Unique Caithness Accommodation on the NC500

As we are getting to know Caithness, I've been learning lots about how we can enjoy this lovely county. As well as places to eat, shop and visit, I've seen that there are many distinctive places to stay in Caithness, so I've created a little round-up/wishlist of unique Caithness accommodations to consider if you are visiting the north of Scotland. All of the accommodations featured have given permission to be featured in this guide.

All information is correct at the time of writing.

MACKAYS HOTEL – Union Street, Wick, KW1 5ED (Thanks to Mackays who kindly permitted the use of their own photos for this post)

Located centrally in Wick, and within very easy walking distance of the historic Pulteneytown harbour, which in its heyday was the busiest herring port in Europe, Mackays is a family-run hotel, with a variety of hotel and self-catering apartments, including golf and whisky package offers.

Endeavouring to lead the way in all things eco-friendly, the hotel has recently received a gold award in its first green tourism assessment and an added bonus for TESLA drivers who stay or dine at Mackays is that the use of a charging point is complimentary.

Mackays aims for excellence across all aspects of accommodation and dining. The No1 Bistro showcases the best of Caithness produce and is a true record breaker, being located at No1 Ebenezer Place – the shortest street in the world! Back to the food though, and we can personally recommend the Mackays Afternoon Tea, with the bistro also offering delicious options for lunch and dinner. So it's possible to stay at this Caithness accommodation without even leaving the premises!

However, if whisky is your tipple, owner and whisky ambassador Murray Lamont can educate guests on the 105 (!) whiskies in the Mackays bar, which sit alongside other local liquid delicacies - Rock Rose Gin and John O’Groats Brewery beer. Mackays Hotel is also within close walking distance of Pulteneytown Distillery which offers tours and tastings, Wick Heritage Centre (open May-October) and Caithness Seacoast which takes visitors out along the Caithness coastline. See my post on a recent trip.

Prices for a one night B&B stay at Mackays start from £108 (£90 for single occupancy) per night  - take a look at accommodation options here!


FORSE OF NATURE, Forse House, Latheron, Caithness, KW5 6DG (With thanks to the Forse of Nature Team for providing photos for this post)

We’re out in the Caithness countryside now,  to a place where I have actually had the good fortune of staying at earlier in the year for writers residential. Forse House, near Latheron, is home to a range of accommodation options, a café, a craft centre and twenty-four acres of landscaped grounds.

As you approach the property along the tree-lined driveway, it’s hard not to be impressed by the grandeur of the house – originally built in the 1700s and comprising many rooms for families and groups to stay.

The bedrooms are comfortable – while not flashy or minimal, the beds are comfy and the furnishings are in keeping with the style of the country house. Rooms each have a private (but not ensuite) bathroom.  Canine companions are welcome too, with towels and even dog beds provided.

The Forse of Nature team is a friendly family team, and with a qualified countryside ranger who offers activities for children’s groups, this could be the ideal place for those with kids to take a break.

The café and craft centre is also definitely worth a visit to support local makers and producers who sell art, gifts and homewares, and if you are a resident then you can take your baking to one of the house's many lounges.

Prices for a one-night stay at Forse of Nature on a room-only basis start at £60 (£40 for single occupancy). A full-cooked Scottish breakfast with bottomless hot drinks is an additional £8 and lighter option breakfasts range from £1.50-£3.00 - find them on booking.com!


THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S COTTAGE, Noss Head, Wick, KW1 4QT (With thanks to the owners of the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage for providing photos for this post)

To the east coast, we now head, and this is unique Caithness accommodation that is new for the 2018/19 season opening in September. Your stay possibly couldn't get any closer to the cliffs, being next to the working Noss Head lighthouse on the east Caithness coastline!

With two bedrooms that can be set up as doubles or as twins and a bunk bed, the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage offers mid-week, weekend and week-long breaks for visitors wanting a base to explore Caithness over several days.

The cottage was built about 60 years ago as a separate family home for the Principal Lightkeeper. The compound is also home to Noss Head lighthouse itself (which while you are not permitted to visit inside, you are welcome to walk around), as well as other functional buildings to support its use.

The cottage comes complete with the standard bedding and towels supplied, as well as heating and lighting included, and the usual household equipment you might expect from self-catering accommodation. To help, the owners provide a checklist and a useful FAQ for the cottage and wider area.

With a unique east-facing location, the sunrises across the north sea are nothing less than fantastic, and guests are also a very short walk from the spectacular Sinclair Girnigoe Castle, accessible on the John O’Groats trail. A photographer's dream!

Stays at the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage range from £359 to £719 for a weekly stay in 2018, and £399 to £799 for a weekly stay in 2019, weekend and mid-week stays are also possible.. You can view availability and book here.


THE HIGHLAND HAVEN, St Johns, East Mey, Caithness KW14 8XL (With thanks to the owners of The Highland Haven for providing photos for this post)

For groups of visitors, hostels are not too common as you wind up the east coasts of Caithness and Sutherland, but The Highland Haven, with a view of Dunnet Head surely wins the accolade of the most northerly hostel on the UK mainland!

This old agricultural building, transformed into a bunkhouse looks positively luxurious, and it’s full of useful touches, with individual custom-made bunk pods with chargers and reading lights, giving a nod to Scandinavian design. It's a truly unique Caithness accommodation option!

The living areas are stylish and facilitate communal dining, with plenty of storage space for those who bring their own food for a self-catered stay.

The Castle of Mey (holiday residence to the late Queen Mother) is within a 20-minute walk along the coast, and the bunkhouse is just a few miles down the road from Dunnet Bay Distillery (see my post detailing their tour and tasting here). The Bunkhouse has serious eco-credentials too, so you can stay rest assured that your stay will be an eco-friendly one.

Nightly rates with continental breakfast start from £30 per person per night. You can view availability and book here.


Finally on my list of unique Caithness accommodation options we have...

THRUMSTER HOUSE, Thrumster, Caithness, KW1 5TX (Thanks to Thrumster House who kindly permitted the use of their own photos for this post)

For fishing, field sports and links to Neolithic history, Thrumster House has it all. A Victorian property, Thrumster House used to belong to a Laird (Lord) and has an Iron Age Broch structure in the grounds along with a walled garden and pond with a summerhouse.

The house was designed to host parties of friends who would meet to enjoy all the activities associated with a family-run country estate, and guests can still enjoy these activities today.

There are two rooms in Thrumster house available on a B&B basis, and there are also multiple properties across the estate which can be hired on a 2-night minimum stay basis, enabling you (and any four-legged friends) to roam free across the rugged Caithness countryside.

During high season, Thrumster Estate hosts events for children and families, and this year saw the return of Thrumster Game and Countryside Fair.

One-night B&B stays at Thrumster House start from £95 per room, and prices vary across the self-catering properties. See availability and book here.


DISCLAIMER: All information is correct at the time of being published. A Highland Blend takes no responsibility for bookings at these Caithness accommodation options made on the basis of information provided in this post and readers should contact accommodation providers directly with queries or bookings.