An escape to Scottish luxury boutique hotel, Lundies


Exceptional design, vibrant food: creativity shines in every corner of this coastal art hotel in the far north-west

words Natasha Radmehr Photography Fran Mart

My limbs are tingling from a warm day at the beach as the last splash of the
sun slinks off the bedlinen and under the door. “I wonder what time it is back home,” I say to my partner. A perfectly reasonable holiday musing, save for one thing: the clocks haven’t budged, because we’re on home soil.

Lundies House, where we are staying, doesn’t feel very Scottish. Or at least, not the tourist-tinted version of Scotland I have grown accustomed to seeing in hotels, with their tweed-this and tartan that, mounted stag heads and framed Burns verse. 

Given its location in the north-west Highland village of Tongue, this former 19th-century manse could have been forgiven for surrendering to the stereotype. Happily, that’s not the vibe favoured by its parent company, the conservation and hospitality organisation Wildland.

Helmed by Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne, Wildland does a fine line in design-driven accommodation. Lundies House joins stablemates Killiehuntly Farmhouse and Kyle House in encapsulating a Nordic sensibility that celebrates the enduring style of quality art and craftsmanship.

I won’t lie: the five-hour car journey from Glasgow to Tongue is a schlep. But I’d drive it twice over for the opening scene alone. We arrive to a Victorian guesthouse washed in lush, golden light, the scent of its herb garden mingling with the coastal breeze.

Roses climb the courtyard steading; colourful wildflowers sway behind stone walls. Beyond the trees lies the Kyle of Tongue, jade beneath a cloudless sky, and the ancient ruins of Castle Varrich.

“We want you to treat Lundies like your home,” smiles the housekeeper as she ushers us inside. It is the home of an art aficionado, but one who wears it lightly. In the honey-hued sitting room, a Picasso lithograph hangs behind Hans Wegner’s Papa Bear chair. Gebrüder Thonet’s Wagasa lamp illuminates the corner of a Hay sofa.

There are works by Trine Søndergaard and Peter Bonde, hand-thrown pottery by Cara Guthrie. The dining room is a marvel, its walls shimmering with a hand-painted botanical
mural by the French artist Claire Basler that mirrors the heathery greys and moss greens of the surrounding landscape. Every single thing is beautiful, down to the tiny teak Muubs salt spoons.

But not at the expense of comfort. Natural fabrics such as rattan and jute, and cosy touches – soft throws draped over chairs, a log fire that crackles even in June – ground Lundies in warmth.

Our room, a studio in the converted steading beside the main house, has the feel of a Manhattan loft with exposed brick walls and heated concrete floors. Out in the courtyard, guests laugh and chatter around a fire pit, blankets draped over bare knees.

Even if you’re not the kind of person who makes pals on holiday, it’s hard not to here. Lundies is intimate, convivial. There are just seven bedrooms (four in the main house, three in the courtyard like ours) as well as a self-contained apartment, and visitors are encouraged to spend time in the communal spaces.

There are books to read and an honesty bar to dig into. A group of American retirees invite us to play Farkle, explaining the rules of the dice game while chatting about their trip. “This is the nicest place we’ve stayed,” says one, a former construction worker who helped build Paul McCartney’s home in the Hamptons.

By the time dinner rolls around, we’re among friends. Chef David Malcolm’s food is so outrageously delicious it stops conversation in its tracks. Wild sea trout and mussels scattered with foraged herbs and flowers; côte de boeuf barbecued outside then served with candied egg yolk; homemade bread loaded with chive butter.

Every plate is creative, flavourful, properly farm-to-table. It doesn’t need to be this good (food options are limited round here, so Lundies provides all meals). It wants to be.

A sunny forecast the next day coaxes us out. Thick sandwiches wrapped in brown paper and string and flasks of tea are pressed into our hands – very Enid Blyton – before we’re waved off on our travels.

We meander west towards Durness, stopping at Ceannabeinne Beach to wade in its Caribbean-blue waters. The broad stretch of white sand belongs to us, our only company the thrillseekers brave enough to whiz by overhead on the Golden Eagle Zipline. We could be half a world away, but we’re not. How lucky we are to call this home.

Prices start at £495 for a double room, full board. Book at lundies.scot

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