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Unique Dining Experiences

If you’re looking for something a little different for your next dining experience in the Scottish Highlands, why not consider a unique restaurant venue?  The Scottish Highlands are full of surprises, and there are some truly delightful places where you can experience a wonderful meal that is a little out of the ordinary.  Imagine travelling back in time on a steam train and supping on an elegant dinner in the dining car.  Or perhaps you would like to dine while cruising the lochs or coastal waters of the beautiful Highlands.  Maybe an outdoors, rustic venue is what you are hoping to experience.  A castle or ruin may offer the perfect setting for your fine dining experience.  There are many special and unique ways to enjoy dining in the Scottish Highlands, so there is no need to limit yourself to a traditional restaurant or hotel venue.

Travellers can relax in style while dining aboard the Royal Scotsman train.  The restaurant is regarded as one of the best in the country.  The Royal Scotsman has an extensive range of fine wines, liqueurs, and malt whiskies along with gourmet menu offerings.  You will enjoy luxurious dining cars complete with mahogany paneling and rich fabrics.  And of course, you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  The Strathspey Steam Railway, which travels between Aviemore, Boat of Garten, and Broomhill, provides a number of options for dining on board.  Full, three-course dinners can be booked for Sunday afternoons, and are catered by the well-known and excellent Cairngorm Hotel, located just across the street from the Aviemore Station.  There is a snack car on board, as well as the elegantly appointed dining car, for those who just wish a light bite while they are enjoying the ride.  The Strathspey Steam Railway also frequently runs special trains including murder mystery dinners, Christmas runs with mince pies and hot chocolate, and afternoon teas complete with sandwiches, cakes, fruit scones, cream and jam, and a pot of tea.  This makes for a wonderful family day out.  Take the Jacobite Steam Train, which travels over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, and enjoy spectacular scenery while visiting the dining car.  This delightful trip on the “road to the isles” is not to be missed!  The Cairngorm Mountain Railway will take you to the top of the Cairngorm Mountain where you can enjoy cosy, casual dining in the Ptarmigan Restaurant.  On a clear day, you can see to Caithness, the far north of Scotland, from the viewing station outside the restaurant.

Explore the Hebridean Isles off the western coast of the Scottish Highlands and enjoy the ultimate in luxury aboard the Hebridean Princess.  Dining is award-winning and you will experience the majesty and awe of cruising around the Western Isles while enjoying fine Scottish cuisine.  The Hebridean Princess serves cordon bleu cuisine complemented by fine wines from the ship’s cellar.  For a shorter cruise and a light bite, consider a sail around Loch Lomond with Sweeney’s Cruises.  You have the option to visit the islands in the afternoon and see the majestic Ben Lomond and Lennox Castle, or take a sunset cruise and relax amidst breath-taking scenery and wildlife.  Snacks and drinks are available for both cruises.  Loch Ness is another short cruise destination, and Jacobite Cruises will delight you with their tours through the Caledonian Canal and down Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle.  Enjoy a hot drink and a light bite while cruising Scotland’s deepest and most mysterious loch. 

If you are looking for a more active dining experience, perhaps Highland Safaris’ “Mountain Safari Trek” is the perfect choice for you.  Imagine a 4-hour Land Rover and walking safari through the Scottish Highlands, starting with some warm Highland shortbread and a tea or coffee with a wee dram of Dewar’s whisky in it to give you warmth and fuel.  Along the way you will enjoy a Ghillies’ picnic with views to Ben Nevis.  If you would prefer to dine indoors, choose a shorter safari and then dine in the Safari Lodge Café.  For those who wish to earn their lunch through a little exercise, try hiking in to Britain’s most remote pub, The Old Forge, on the Knoydart Peninsula.  A seven-mile hike over a few munros will get you there (as will a less strenuous sail to their private pier).  The food is renowned for its excellence, all made fresh daily with an ever-changing menu. 

All throughout the Scottish Highlands you can find a wonderful combination of shopping and dining, all under one roof.  House of Bruar is located off the A9 near Pitlochry has an extensive food hall and very popular restaurant.  A trip to House of Bruar is a great way to spend the day and enjoy fine dining as well.  Brodie Countryfare near Forres is another shop-and-dine experience not to be missed, especially welcoming during the holiday season.  If you would enjoy a tour followed by a hearty meal, then check out Baxters Highland Village along the River Spey near Fochabers.  Here you can learn about the company and see the museum, shop for Highland gifts and food hampers, and enjoy a hearty meal in one of the restaurants.  Many whisky distilleries also offer tours followed by dining, and of course, a chance to sample the wares. 

Some of the most unique dining venues in the world are located in Scotland’s Highland castles.  Whether you desire fine, elegant dining, or just a light bite, you can find a lovely and unique dining experience awaiting you at any number of Highland castles—Dornoch Castle Hotel, Tulloch Castle Hotel, Blair Castle, and Cawdor Castle, to name a few.  Carbisdale Castle, once the home of the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, is now a youth hostel—considered one of the most “opulent” hostels in the world.  You don’t need to be a resident to enjoy dining in the magnificent dining room.  Three-course dinners are served daily. 

The variety of dining experiences in the Scottish Highlands is almost never ending—constantly changing and unique, offering something for everyone, and always a special and memorable event.  Wherever you choose to stay in the Scottish Highlands, ask your hosts or the locals about any unique dining opportunities and venues, or check out a castle, a train, a shopping village, or a cruise.  Whatever you choose, you are sure to leave well satisfied and with plenty of fond memories.