If you’re touring the western Highlands, don’t miss Eilean Donan Castle, touted as the most romantic castle in the world and a natural backdrop for honeymoon photography. (You might recognize the castle’s fortress-like facade from the James Bond film, “The World is Not Enough.”) Eilean Donan is located in Kyle of Lochalsh, perched on a bluff overlooking three lochs on A97, just before you drive onto the causeway leading to the Isle of Skye.
Kinloch Lodge is nestled on the southern end of Skye, the largest and northernmost island in the inner Hebrides. Yet there are graceful palm trees on the grounds, thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Skye also is a home to white-tailed sea eagles, golden eagles and other birds of prey, making it a favored destination for bird watchers.
The 300-year-old lodge once was the private family home of the owner, Lord Godfrey Macdonald, who is head of the clan, and his wife Claire, a celebrity chef and food writer in the UK.
At Lady Claire’s cookery classes, scheduled several times a year, guests learn to make yummy dishes in a relaxed social setting. A few nibbles from her menu: walnut-and-Parmesan tart with caramelized onions; seared scallops; cauliflower purée and crispy bacon; and butterscotch-and-pear upside down cake. Prices start at $750 per person and include three nights’ lodgings, plus all meals and cooking classes.
Rather eat than cook? Year-round accommodations include both breakfast and dinner in the lodge’s Michelin-star restaurant. Marcello Tully, the resident chef, serves a multi-course menu that changes daily in keeping with local and seasonal produce. Combined with flights of perfectly paired wines, dining becomes an absolute art form.
The intimate dining room exudes the atmosphere of breaking bread in a home that has been in the family for centuries. The walls are lined with impressive oil portraits of Macdonald ancestors.
Guest rooms are simple but elegant, with lovely water views. Americans will appreciate the warm feeling they get in the bathrooms, which are outfitted with heated floors.
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