Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Discover Scotland’s Hidden Haven

piprustage.jpg
interior.jpg

John O’Groats is almost as far as you can go North in Britain, but, as Stylist’s Anna Hart discovers, a stylish new inn makes it well worth the trip.

I can never resist visiting a place that captured my imagination as a child. I still have a list I made, aged eight, marking the places I’d love to visit including the Jordanian city of Petra (thanks to Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom), Salzburg (ditto The Sound Of Music) and both John O’Groats and Land’s End,which every child assumes to bethe top and the toe of Great Britain(although Dunnet Head is officiallymainland Britain’s northernmostpoint). I imagined them to be grand ports, teeming with exotic travellers. In fact, both are tiny, remote settlements, Land’s End in western Cornwall, and John O’Groats, 876 miles away on thenortheastern tip of Scotland. And until recently both were considered famous by accident and entirely underwhelming for travellers.

John O’Groats had a lovely19th-Century hotel but it fell derelict in the Nineties and Lonely Planet labelled the area ‘a seedy tourist trap’ but happily this has now changed,thanks to the stylish makeover of The Inn at John O’Groats by travel company Natural Retreats.

When I arrive (via Inverness Airport and a two-and-a-half-hour drive) it’s a bleak, windy day, but the sight of the hotel is unmistakably cheery with its row of red, blue, yellowand green ‘tufts’ or Scandinavian-style fisherman huts, hugging the side of the gabled, whitewashed original inn. John O’Groats has done well; rather than conventional hotel rooms, The Inn offers 16 open-plan apartments, with between one and four bedrooms, in addition to 23 three-bedroom eco-lodges.

John O’Groats is a prime spot to glimpse the northern lights and see killer whales

Interiors throughout are Scandi-influenced– think copper pendant lights, Scottish Larch timber and neat, Ercol-style sofas topped with cosy tartan rugs and chic cushions. The idea behind the development isthat visitors will be tempted to lingerin John O’Groats longer than the time it takes to Instagram themselves next to the famous signpost.

And there are some truly spectacular sights. John O’Groats is a prime spot to glimpse the northern lights and see killer whales in their natural habitat. So on our firstmorning, after a breakfast of fresh eggs on toast courtesy of our welcome hamper, we clamber into a 12-seater inflatable rib for a sea safari. The sun is shining and we’re soon photographing seals basking in thewarmth, before we speed past uninhabited islands and rugged cliffs. When we slow down to snap the ‘The Stacks’, three towering rock formations at Duncansby Head, they’re so breathtaking no filter is required.

For lunch, we head to The Storehouse, The Inn’s inviting cafe-bar serving locally-brewed beer, organic wines and a well-judged menu of sandwiches and platters (I went for the local speciality Caithness Salmon Taster Plate). The one snag is the 8pm closingtime, but the Seaview Hotel halfa mile up the road has a whiskyshelf that’s worth the walk.

I made my trip to John O’Groats over a weekend, but given the journey time from London next time I’ll makeit part of a dream Scottish road tripfrom Inverness to Orkney. Crossing Land’s End off my list of travels might have to wait.

A one-bedroom apartment at The Inn at John O’Groats costs from £90 per night, naturalretreats.co.uk. Easyjet flies from London Gatwick to Inverness from £60 return; visitscotland.com

Related

PoolatNight_V2_rt.jpg

Sip poolside cocktails in North Yorkshire

hero-BeachHuts_rt.jpg

Recharge On The Cornish Coast

More

Revealed: the world’s best cities to live in

London didn't even make the top 50...

by Sarah Biddlecombe
16 Aug 2017

Discover an unspoilt corner of Sicily

With miles of wild, sandy beaches, a rich history and even richer cuisine, Stylist falls for south-east Sicily

by The Stylist web team
15 Aug 2017

You could rent a private Caribbean island for under £500

All your holiday dreams are about to come true

by Megan Murray
09 Aug 2017

8 Disney castles you can actually visit in real life

08 Aug 2017

Swim off Shetland's secret beaches

Wild swimming doesn't get much wilder than Scotland's shores; Stylist leaps in

by Anna Hart
08 Aug 2017

Is the ‘wanderlust gene’ the reason why you can’t stop travelling?

Some research suggests that thrill-seekers share a certain gene. But that isn’t the whole story

by Moya Crockett
04 Aug 2017

The world’s best sleeper train routes

Time to bunk up, from the UK to Europe and beyond

by Anna Brech
02 Aug 2017

This is how to find the cheapest flights on the internet

Less money spent on flights equals more money for the aperol spritz budget

by Sarah Biddlecombe
02 Aug 2017

Grab some friends and escape to a Balearic paradise

Stylist heads to a Mallorcan villa in search of sun, seclusion and stunning views

by Stylist
01 Aug 2017

Retreat to a fantasy pad in northern Cornwall

Stylist is one of the first to stay at the UK's coolest self-catering bolthole

by Susan Riley
25 Jul 2017