Claire Macdonald’s Monarch of the Glen

314The two hour drive from Inverness to the Isle of Skye is one of the most spectacular journeys in the Scottish Highlands.  Kinloch Lodge is a secluded luxury hotel run by Clare Macdonald and her husband Lord Macdoanld in their family home.  Godfrey Macdonald of Macdonald is High Chief of Clan Donald. Although remote, Kinloch Lodge, positioned on the southern and most beautiful part of Skye, is actually far easier to get to than you might imagine.

A mile off the main road at the foot of a hill and on the edge of a sea loch, Kinloch Lodge is in a magical position and boasts dramatic views. Although the journey from London takes only five hours (by air and road), Kinloch Lodge seems quite literally “a world apart”. Rooms are big and comfortable with piles of pillows, blankets, dressing-gowns and luxurious en suite bathrooms, many of which have freestanding baths. Meals are served in the dining room under the watchful eye of the ancestral portraits, while fires are lit in the drawing room for reading the papers, having tea or evening drinks.

Dining is in the capable hands of Clare Macdonald, a renowned chef. The food at Kinloch is clearly of the utmost importance. The new head chef, previously at La Gavroche, provides food that is fantastic yet straightforward, something that Macdonald feels is important. It’s good, but not over the top.Sourced from local produce and from the icy cold loch, dishes range from the everyday to the slightly more sophisticated, with scallops and langoustines caught on the island.

Claire Macdonald has been living on the Isle of Skye for three decades, and she has accomplished a lot. Her seventeenth book, Fish, was published last year, and she admits there may be more to follow.  When not writing books, she spends the rest of her time doing what she does best: cooking.

Macdonald is quick to admit that cooking has always been her first love. “Motivated by greed,” she describes herself as an ordinary cook who creates ordinary food. “People forget how good brisket can be, or a really good fish pie.I’m sick of disgusting fish pies.”

With their daughter Isabella and her husband now helping to run Kinloch, “It’s so FawltyTowers!” Macdonald now has more time to spend on what she does best:producing delicious food. The hotel now offers residential cookery weekends, where guests spend Saturday and Sunday morning with Macdonald, watching and taking part in her cooking demonstrations. They cover seven recipes a morning, ranging from more simple soups to proper dinner party fare. The combination seems to work brilliantly as the courses bring in guests that Kinloch Lodge might otherwise have missed.

As if that wasn’t enough, Macdonald also runs her ‘Monthly Menu Club’, which has been going for four years. Each month subscribers are sent a shopping list and five or six new recipes to try, usually a couple of starters and main courses and a pudding. “It’s very informal, and I usually include a bit of chat with it,” she says. “Some of my subscribers have been with me from the start so it seems to work.” When not running the hotel, writing cookbooks, giving culinary demonstrations or coming up with new recipes for the club, Macdonald writes for the Scotsman’s Weekend Magazine and the Aberdeen Press. Her excellent cooking, combined with a straightforward approach and humor, has ensured her enduring success. “And at the end of the day, people just love food.”

Kinloch Lodge also offers gardens, heli-pad, venues for weddings, and stalking facilities .

— Lucinda Baring

 Kinloch Lodge Hotel
Isle of Skye
Scotland, IV 43 8QYT
Tel: 01471-833-333

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