The best hotels in Inverness

Mike MacEacheran
Best Western Palace Hotel: Best Western

For a small Highland city, Inverness sure packs a punch. Primarily, it attracts monster hunters on their way to Loch Ness, but more recently the city has developed an urban swagger, helped by the insanely brilliant (and ridiculously popular) North Coast 500 road trip, which starts and ends in the city. Of course, it oozes with museums and art and is awash with creative chefs and only-in-the-Highlands bars. Beyond that are craggy castles and nostril-tingling distilleries. To help you get to grips with such spirit, here’s our pick of the most fabulous hotels on the Moray Firth.

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Best for foodies: Rocpool Reserve Hotel

Neighbourhood: South of city centre

Rocpool Reserve Hotel has a sought-after restaurant (Rocpool Reserve Hotel)

Refined, chic, sophisticated, decadent, hip, ferociously good – throw any labels at this luxury city centre hotel and you’ll still come up short. The swishest place in town, with a restaurant from snappy TV chef Michel Roux Jr., it comes flooded with River Ness panoramas, individually designed bedrooms and plenty of sunken baths, hot tubs, private balconies and mini saunas. The building itself is a renovated Georgian townhouse and the interior colour scheme smacks of a Thornton’s chocolate box, all red and gold with swishes of hazelnut and vanilla.

Doubles from £140, room only
rocpool.com

Best for quiet luxury: Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel Inverness

Neighbourhood: Ness Bank

Luxury boutique Glenmoriston Townhouse (Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel Inverness)

First, the numbers: this august, centrally located luxury boutique has 30 bedrooms, three apartments, one restaurant and one whisky and piano bar, which is stocked with more than 260 malt whiskies and 50-odd gins. All that adds up to a convivial scene overlooking one of the prettiest stretches of the River Ness, while the rooms are awash with tartan bedspreads and come with shortbread biscuits for bedtime. For a big night out, before strolling to nearby Eden Court Theatre, loosen your belt for one of the best dinners in the city at Contrast Brasserie – the menu brims with North Uist scallops, Perthshire lamb and Ardgay venison.

Doubles from £85, room only
glenmoristontownhouse.com

Best for Outlander fans: Culloden House Hotel

Neighbourhood: East Inverness

Bonnie Prince Charming stayed at Culloden House Hotel (Culloden House Hotel)

This converted, mid-18th-century Palladian manor is now the most atmospheric country hotel in Inverness. It was slept in by Bonnie Prince Charlie while he campaigned to overthrow English rule, and he used it as his battle HQ prior to defeat at nearby Culloden Moor. Today, the drawing room, library bar and 40 acres of grounds draw in Outlander fans on set-hopping Highland tours, while the chandelier ceilings, Royal Stuart tartan drapes and marbled fireplaces whisk you back to the Jacobite era.

Doubles from £158, room only
cullodenhouse.co.uk

Best for quirky design: Pentahotel Inverness

Neighbourhood: City centre

The Pentahotel Inverness is open 24 hours a day (Pentahotel Inverness)

The funky brainchild of the globetrotting Rosewood Hotel Group, this living room concept hotel is designed in the spirit of ‘living like a local’: slouch with a book on the comfy sofas, play computer games, or grab a drink from the 24-hour bar. Decor is straight from the world of click-bait furniture, all crumpet sofas, industrial bar stools and novelty units, but it adds to the hipster, here-and-now vibe of the place. Location-wise, it can’t be beat, only yards from Inverness train station, and the 90 box-size budget rooms come with free pay TV. It’s aimed at a younger crowd and the staff are equally fresh-faced.

Doubles from £54, room only
pentahotels.com

Best for whisky tasting: Glen Mohr Hotel & Apartments

Neighbourhood: Ness Bank

Glen Mohr Hotel & Apartments has a whisky bar (Glen Mohr Hotel & Apartments)

With 100 years of history, this collection of period townhouses sounds worthy, but it’s a wonder – there are 110 bedrooms divided across 10 Victorian buildings, 10 apartments and one river house. As well as the huge variety of functional, if basic, rooms, the perks are the lovely river location, multi-lingual staff and whisky tasting in front of a log fire at Nicky Tam’s Whisky & Wine Bar. The Deluxe River View Rooms are the pick of the bunch.

Doubles from £53, room only
glen-mhor.com

Best for spa and golf: Kingsmills Hotel

Neighbourhood: East Inverness

Indulge in the spa at Kingsmills Hotel (Kingsmills Hotel)

What was built as a private home in 1786 is now a sprawling central hotel with indoor pool, spa facilities, bells-and-whistles gym and four acres of grounds beside Inverness Golf Club. Much of the action happens at the two restaurants and whisky bar – there’s Inglis Restaurant for traditional set menus and the light-flooded Conservatory Restaurant for Sunday roasts and Speyside steaks. Rooms vary from garden, family and patio pads to more elegant affairs hinting at late 18th-century design. Cue: heather-pink palettes and, you guessed it, tartan armchairs.

Doubles from £85, room only
kingsmillshotel.com

Best for riverside views: Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa

Neighbourhood: City centre

Best Western Palace Hotel has river views (Best Western)

Castle views, predictable-yet-pleasing rooms, family-friendly restaurants and no-taxi-needed distance to Inverness’ best entertainment and shopping, make it easy to see why this Best Western outpost is so popular. Period rooms are no-frills, but some have recently been upgraded with bright Dulux colour schemes and broad windows. Want a window-wide-open peek at Inverness Castle across the river? Make sure to request a room with a view when booking.

Doubles from £79, room only
invernesspalacehotel.co.uk

Best for style: Mercure Inverness

Neighbourhood: City centre

Mercure Inverness has zesty-coloured features (Mercure)

Outside, the facade of this chain hotel has all the glamour of a multi-storey car park, but looks can be deceiving. Inside, it bristles with Highland charm and personality: spot wall-mounted kilts and sleek furniture in the lobby, banquette booths, funky wallpaper and banana-coloured sofas in the restaurant and bar. Bright and zesty rooms are spacious and the fitted wardrobes and feature walls highlight vivid Highland landscapes and celebrated characters from Scottish history. Views from the river-facing rooms are among the city’s best.

Doubles from £73, B&B
mercureinverness.co.uk

Best for history: Drumdevan Country House

Neighbourhood: South Inverness

Recline on a four-poster at Drumdevan Country House (Drumdevan Country House)

A distinctively different stay beckons at this palatial retreat dating to 1790 and overlooking formal gardens two miles south of the city. A romantic Georgian house, protected by Historic Scotland down to the last tree, it features four-poster, queen-sized and garden rooms where breakfast is exclusively served in bed. As well as airy rooms, there are garden views and Netflix is complimentary. In keeping with such quirks, Drumdevan was, in fact, the first property in Scotland to be placed on the Ordnance Survey map. Who knew?

Doubles from £59, room only
drumdevan.net

Best for bargain chic: Heathmount Hotel

Neighbourhood: City centre

Heathmount Hotel boasts great-value style (Heathmount Hotel)

Eight tarted-up rooms in a rainbow of soft colours, a lively restaurant, two bars (one gin themed) and family-friendly service at every encounter – the slick Heathmount taps into all that’s refreshing about Inverness. There are plenty of nice touches in the loft rooms and doubles (DVD players, free Sky, iPod docs) and the place fizzes with locals on weekends, particularly on the heated terrace with open fire pit. Best not expect an early night.

Doubles from £76, room only
heathmounthotel.com