Hotels in Inverness

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Best Inverness Hotels

It may lie within the lush, green, seemingly untouched splendor of the Scottish Highlands, but Inverness is a busy, bustling city break destination – complete with a huge shopping center, restaurants of every kind, and pumping nightclubs. Of course, many will come because of its closeness to Loch Ness, the largest Scottish loch by volume, whose unfathomable depths inspired the story of one of the world's most famous mythical creatures: the Loch Ness Monster. Keep your eyes peeled for Nessie – that's if you can look away from the dramatic, hilly landscape all around.

Things to see

The best place to monster-watch when visiting Loch Ness? That has to be Urquhart Castle. The ruins of this once major fortress date right back to the 13th Century and over the centuries have been the site of many a bloody battle. Climb the Grant Tower for fine views of the loch and surrounding grandeur. For more information on the area and the infamous Nessie, visit the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre – it's located at the nearby Drumnadrochit Hotel and tells the whole history of the loch using immersive animation, lasers, and other special effects. It's an experience that appeals to all ages and you'll actually learn a few things about Loch Ness beyond the fact it's supposedly a home for dinosaurs. Back in Inverness, be sure to check out Inverness Castle: a strikingly red sandstone structure that now serves as a courthouse.

Hotels in Inverness

Despite being far-removed from the other cosmopolitan centers of the UK, there are plenty of luxury hotels in Inverness to make your stay utterly memorable. Think Egyptian cotton sheets, fine velvet bathrobes, hot tubs, split-level suites, the works. Many Inverness hotels are found right on the banks of the glittering River Ness: quite a sight to wake up to in the morning. This is not to say you have to spend a lot to have an enjoyable stay, with many cheaper hotels and bed and breakfasts also available featuring mod-cons like gyms and free WiFi.

Where to stay

If you're staying in the city itself, you'll want to book your Inverness hotel as close to the center as possible. This will put you within wandering distance of the modern Eastgate Centre shopping mall, as well as the some of the older landmarks – especially the grand Neo-Gothic buildings dotted around the Old Town. Look out as well for the Victorian Market: beneath its vaulted roof are crammed traditional old shops selling sweets, jewellery, and kilts. Alternatively, you could also opt to stay near Loch Ness, where plenty of inns and bed and breakfasts cater to the legions of tourists flocking here every year.

How to get to

If you're heading over from the other end of the UK, there's one classic, rather atmospheric way to get to Inverness station, and that's by sleeper train. These run frequently from London – board in the evening, and wake up in Inverness! If you don't fancy such an epic ride by rail, however, you can also choose to hop on a plane. Inverness Airport is only around 20 minutes from the city center (taxis are readily available) and flights land here from London as well as Bristol, Belfast, and Birmingham, not to mention mainland Europe.

When are the best times to travel to Inverness?

Go to Inverness in the high summer and you’ll be treated to an extraordinary 18 hours of daylight at the summer solstice in June, with sunset well after 10pm. The other side of that coin is that daylight hours are limited to as little as 6.5 hours in mid-winter. Winters can be very pretty when the snow falls, leaving a white dust over the city’s sights. If you plan to book a hotel in Inverness in summer or over the festive season, book well in advance.

What are the top must-see attractions in Inverness?

Overlooking the River Ness as it flows through the city, towering Inverness Castle is a fine example of Scottish Baronial style and was built in 1836, although the site it stands on has had a castle since the 11th century. The 1869 St Andrews Cathedral sits just across the river from the castle, and like it, is built with pink sandstone. Step inside the cathedral to see some fine stonework and the soaring, vaulted roof. The town centre, meanwhile, boasts many historic buildings such as the 1539 Abertarff House.

What are the best types of food and restaurants in Inverness?

Try haggis, Scotland’s national dish, while you’re in Inverness. It’s a kind of plump, spicy sausage made with sheep’s pluck and oatmeal. Traditionally, you should wash it down with a generous measure of whisky. Inverness also offers plenty of international dining experiences with Italian, Indian and Chinese all available. You’ll find upmarket restaurants with menus featuring modern Scottish cuisine, taking the fine game and produce of the Highlands and preparing them with a contemporary twist.

What are the top things to do in Inverness?

Take a stroll along the river and cross one of the iron footbridges to the wooded islands that interrupt its flow. There, you could easily imagine that you’re in deep countryside rather than in the heart of a modern city. Visit the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, set just below the castle. Exhibits there trace the history of the Highlands and Inverness. After, experience the stark beauty of Loch Ness. It’s just a 15-minute drive from the city and there’s always the chance that you might spot the fabled monster.

What are some fun facts about Inverness?

Inverness is a stronghold of one of the world’s most esoteric, and arguably dangerous, sports, shinty. It’s played with a small hard ball and a hockey stick-like blade called a caman which is brandished freely, and participants are allowed to shoulder charge each other. The Legend of the Loch Ness Monster, which some believe is a mythical creature, started as recently as 1933 with a report in the Inverness Courier. Known as the gateway to the Highlands, Inverness is the UK’s most northerly city.

What kinds of public transport are there in Inverness?

You can fly to Inverness, but the train is also a good option with the city’s main station enjoying a central location. There’s a taxi rank outside the station and local buses are also available. The compact town centre can easily be explored on foot. There are also bus services available to destinations in southern Scotland and to some Highland towns to the north.