The finest Scottish scenery and the finest Scottish dining
In all of the UK some of the most spectacular scenery is found in Scotland, and among that scenery some of the most dramatic and beautiful is found around the lochs. Although only one claims to be home to a monster, many lochs can lay claim to an AA-Rosetted restaurant somewhere on its banks. Here's a list of those establishments, in alphabetical order by loch name.
Loch Awe is the third largest freshwater loch in Scotland and also the longest in the country. It's renowned for its trout fishing and also has a number of ruined castles on islands. There's also Cruachan Power Station, which has a visitor centre.
Faodail at Taychreggan Hotel, Kilchrenan, Argyll & Bute - 2 AA Rosettes
Faodail means 'lucky find' and your dining experience may be just that when you discover this 17th-century former coaching inn nestled in its own private bay on the shores of Loch Awe. The kitchen delivers set dinner menus and there's always a friendly team waiting to welcome you.
Loch Broom is a sea loch fed by the River Broom. It's about 9 miles long, and Ullapool sits about a third of the way down on its north-eastern bank.
The Dipping Lugger, Ullapool, Highland - 3 AA Rosettes
The Dipping Lugger is an 18th-century former manse transformed into a luxurious venue by local distillers. Ullapool’s famous seafood is a focus of the menu, and whether it’s lunch or dinner, tasting menus are the way to go, the choice changing with the seasons.
Loch Dhùn Bheagain is its actual Scottish Gaelic name, and it's a sea loch on the west coast of the island of Skye which is part of the Inner Hebrides. On the shore of the Loch sits Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, which was the stronghold of the chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years.
The Three Chimneys & The House Over-By, Colbost, Highland - 3 AA Rosettes
This remote whitewashed cottage restaurant with rooms is the definition of destination dining. Foodies have been making pilgrimage here for nearly forty years, and it's still well worth the effort. A warren of small rooms with low ceilings, the restaurant’s polished dark wood floors and tables are offset by exposed stone walls. Service is professional and fine-tuned, while food is firmly rooted in its island environment, particularly seafood from nearby waters.
The Scottish Gaelic name for this loch is Loch Éireann, meaning 'Loch of Ireland', implying it may be a remnant of Gaelic expansion well over a thousand years ago. The Loch has a few claims to fame; the first being that even though it's not a sea loch it has its own tides, and a second is that The Beatles enjoyed a holiday here at the height of their fame in 1964. It's also well stocked with brown and rainbow trout.
Seasons View, The Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans, Perth & Kinross - 1 AA Rosette
The Four Seasons Hotel sits in the tiny village of St Fillans, at the eastern end of Loch Earn where it meets the River Earn. Its restaurant is Seasons View, and as you’d expect from the name, there are breathtaking views over the water and the wooded hills, complementing the modern menu which is built on spectacular Scottish ingredients.
Lochview Restaurant, Achray House, St Fillans, Perth & Kinross - 2 AA Rosettes
Another restaurant that's wisely named, enjoying a stunning 180-degree view of Loch Earn and the mountains beyond. The Lochview Restaurant is a cosy and beautifully decorated space with leather upholstery, bespoke wallpaper and recovered wooden flooring. There's a contemporary and adventurous tasting menu on offer, as well as satisfyingly traditional quality dishes like burgers, pie, salmon, and beef fillet Rossini.
Unlike most Scottish lochs, Faskally is a man-made reservoir fed by the River Tummel. It's kept in place by the Pitlochry Dam, which was built in the late 1940s as part of a hydro-electric scheme. The dam incorporates a salmon ladder, which makes the loch very popular with anglers.
Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa, Pitlochry, Perth & Kinross - 3 AA Rosettes
Located on the edge of Loch Faskally, right by Pitlochry Dam, Fonab Castle is home to the fine dining Sandemans Restaurant. The castle is late Victorian, and was built for a member of the Sandeman port-shipping family. It's a pretty impressive building, and the restaurant enjoys some amazing panoramic views of the water, as well as elegant design and decoration. As you'd expect, local produce is very much in evidence.
Coming in from the Firth of Clyde, Loch Fyne is the longest sea loch in Scotland, inland by about 40 miles. The loch is connected to the Sound of Jura by the Crinan Canal, built around the end of the 18th century.
Inver Restaurant, Strachur, Argyll & Bute - 3 AA Rosettes
This small, rather basic building on the shores of Loch Fyne is in perfect keeping with its surroundings, but isn’t necessarily the kind of place you’d expect to find food of this calibre. Enjoying an idyllic, almost wild setting with stunning views, it has open fires and simple, comfortable furnishings, highlighting the down-to-earth nature of the place. A record player provides the tunes and staff are friendly and knowledgeable - no airs or graces. Seafood comes direct from the loch.
Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa, Inverary, Argyll & Bute - 1 AA Rosette
The Cladach Mòr Bistro, from the Gaelic for ‘great shore’, takes its inspiration from both land and sea. Open fires, rich tones and stone walls set the scene. Food is proudly seasonal and local wherever possible, and you can enjoy beautiful loch views as you indulge in the carefully crafted dishes.
Part of Loch Long, this small sea loch is on the coast of the Cowal peninsula, and sits entirely within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The village of Lochgoilhead sits at the head of Loch Goil (where else?), and is reached by a single track road that goes through the Rest & Be Thankful pass. On the shore there’s the 14th-century Carrick Castle, which was ruined in a 16th-century uprising.
Woodside Lodge, Lochgoilhead, Argyll & Bute - 2 AA Rosettes
At the head of the loch, this beautifully restored lodge offers the Orangery and the lochside Arts and Crafts restaurant. Scottish produce leads the menu, and a lot of it doesn't have to come far, as many ingredients are grown in the lodge’s gardens or at least locally foraged. With the sea so close, you can expect excellent seafood.
Loch Linnhe is about 30 miles long, and opens onto the Firth of Lorne at its southwestern end. Fort William is at the northeast end of the loch, at the mouth of the River Lochy. Legend has it that this is the home of the water horse (‘each-uisge’) which would ride away with any children that tried to ride it, in order to drown and eat them.
The Pierhouse Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin, Argyll & Bute - 2 AA Rosettes
The Pierhouse enjoys a wonderful location at the edge of Loch Linnhe, opposite the ferry pier to Lismore, and used to be the home of the local piermaster. There are whitewashed walls inside and out with some fantastic artwork. Warmth is provided by wood-burning stoves and the main restaurant looks out onto the water.
Restaurant at Isle of Eriska, Eriska, Argyll & Bute - 3 AA Rosettes
Built in high Victorian Baronial style in 1884, this lovely building has a truly gorgeous setting, with acres of grounds, woods and shoreline enjoying glorious views across Loch Linnhe. A proper country retreat, it's got spa and leisure facilities and all kinds of outdoor pursuits. The restaurant is traditional, with oak panelling and comfortable seating. Menus change with the seasons with ingredients from the local larder well to the fore.
Just about 15 miles to the northwest of Glasgow, Loch Lomond is the largest of Scotland's lochs by surface area. It's also the second largest by volume, after Loch Ness. This is the loch with the 'bonnie bonnie banks' according to the song. It's also home to Inchmurrin, the largest fresh-water island in the British Isles.
The Cameron Grill, Balloch, West Dunbartonshire - 2 AA Rosettes
After a catastrophic fire in 2017, the Cameron House resort fully re-opened in September 2021 following a spectacular renovation that combines Scottish country-house finery with contemporary style. The intimate Cameron Grill enjoys stunning views across Loch Lomond and offers precise grill room cooking in wholesome natural dishes.
Tamburrini & Wishart, Balloch, West Dunbartonshire - 3 AA Rosettes
Paul Tamburrini and Martin Wishart's presentation at Cameron House is an exciting mix of Scottish and Italian traditions. The thought and imagination put into the food served here is first class as is the quality of the provenance, while the accuracy of cooking is displayed in the flavours and technical skills showcased. The tasting menu is stunning, and vegetarians have their own dedicated menu.
Cryptozoology aside, Loch Ness has plenty of remarkable attributes. It may only be the second-largest loch by surface area, but its depth makes it the largest by volume. In fact, it contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. At its southwestern end there is an artificial island, Cherry Island, which is believed to date back to the Iron Age. Loch Ness also has two lighthouses, an RNLI lifeboat station and a hydro-electric plant. Fort Augustus is on the south-west shore, and is home to less than a thousand people.
The Inch, Fort Augustus, Highland - 2 AA Rosettes
The Inch (or Inchnacardoch Country House Hotel, to give it its full name) is a 150-year-old former hunting lodge set on the hillside looking over the south end of Loch Ness. The restaurant comes in two sections with charming character features such as plaster coving and wood panelling. The wildlife photos and tartan high-back chairs really add to the atmosphere.
Part of the Caledonian Canal, Loch OIch is a freshwater loch between Loch Ness and Loch Lochy. Fans of the more grisly elements of Scottish clan history may be interested in the lochside monument at the Well of the Seven Heads.
Glengarry Castle Hotel, Invergarry, Highland - 1 AA Rosette
This slice of Victorian Scottish baronial was built in the 1860s and is set in 50 acres on the shores of the loch. Spotless white linen and quality glassware glow beneath the chandelier in the opulent dining room, where lightly modernised, traditional fare is the order of the day.
This is the fourth longest loch in Scotland, which makes it sound like an also-ran, but when you're standing by the Glenfinnan Monument looking across the water and up to the hills, it hardly matters.
The Prince's House, Glenfinnan, Highland - 2 AA Rosettes
The Prince’s House was constructed in the 17th century as a coaching inn, but the Stage House Bistro and bar were built in the 1980s. It’s all traditional Highland style with plenty of character. The bistro is bright and spacious, enjoying views of the nearby burn. Cooking is classic French with innovative and novel concept touches.
A sea loch on the west coast that is a Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area (NCMPA) due to the presence of certain very rare clams and other marine invertebrates. For a number of years, during the mid-19th century, the loch was also home to a floating church.
Kilcamb Lodge Hotel, Strontian, Highland - 3 AA Rosettes
Right on the shore of Loch Sunart, remote Kilcamb Lodge Hotel sits in 22 acres of private grounds and woodland. This historic house was one of the first stone buildings in the area and was used as military barracks around the time of the Jacobite uprising. These days it's a comfortable proprietor-run hotel with views guaranteed to wow first-time visitors or returning regulars. The light and airy restaurant looks out across the grounds towards the loch and the one window table is highly prized.
Upper Loch Torridon
Loch Torridon comes in two parts, Upper Loch Torridon and Loch Torridon proper, with Loch Sheildaig in between. The town of Torridon is on the shore of the far eastern end of Upper Loch Torridon.
The Torridon 1887 Restaurant, Torridon, Highland - 3 AA Rosettes
Innovative Scottish cooking is the hallmark at The Torridon 1887 Restaurant, part of the Victorian Earl of Lovelace’s turreted former shooting lodge. The drive to it requires a little determination, but its remoteness, wildness and scenery are worth it. The surrounding land, lochs and the sea play a major role in the kitchen, with vegetables and herbs coming from the two-acre kitchen garden, meats and game from the estate, and shellfish and fish from Loch Torridon and beyond.