Stay At A Historic 200-Year-Old inn On The NC500: The Golspie Inn (AD)

(I was invited by the Golspie Inn for a complimentary overnight stay in exchange for a feature on A Highland Blend)

Travelling regularly from Caithness to Inverness, we pass through the Sutherland town of Golspie and while we regularly grab a coffee-to-go from the Coffee Bothy, we haven’t managed to explore Golspie previously. In October, I was invited by owner Alan Berwick for an overnight stay to experience the charm of the Golspie Inn.

Golspie is neatly located just under halfway between Inverness and John O’Groats, on the popular route for travelling the North Coast 500. It's easy to spot if approaching from the north, as part of the walls are covered in eye-catching ivy. The location of the hotel on the northern side of the town lends itself handily for either a walk to the Big Burn waterfalls, Ben Bhraggie, or a flat section of the John O’Groats Trail overlooking the east coast shoreline. Golspie’s star attraction, Dunrobin Castle is less than a 20-minute easy walk from the Golspie Inn.

Formerly known as the Sutherland Arms, the Golspie Inn is a sister hotel of the Altnaharra Hotel (read the review of my recent stay here). With over 200 years of history as an inn, the Golspie Inn was extensively refurbished during the Covid-19 pandemic and reopened in May 2021.

The main public space is a huge room for people to enjoy either a drink on a sofa or bar table or for a meal. A nice addition is a wood-burning stove, which keeps the space nice and warm for the autumn and winter months. Along with some nice decor including some drawings, there was a nice buzz with some upbeat music playing, it felt like a cool and relaxing bar space to spend time in.

For those dining with their dogs, there is a separate area but we didn’t find this as an appealing space, so Bartie went in the car (sorry pup!) so we could enjoy a few drinks before dinner. There is also a separate traditional tartan bar which was closed due to staff shortages but it also looked like a comfortable place to enjoy a pint or a dram.

There's a lovely section of outdoor decking, which I imagine would be an amazing place to enjoy an al-fresco meal or drink (and of course dogs would be welcome here!).

There's a good selection of beer and cider on tap, and a small cocktail and mocktail menu to choose from.

Generally, as visitors travel around the north of Scotland, an observation I often hear is that the food is limited to very traditional meals. At the Golspie Inn, there is a nice mix of traditional dishes (Mac n cheese, burgers, and homemade pies) coupled with some more creative small plates like lamb kofte and venison haggis bonbons - which we chose for our starters.

We also ate:

  • Lamb with clapshot and greens, and a 28-day matured ribeye steak, with all the traditional trimmings.
  • Lemon Posset, and a chocolate brownie served with local ice cream from Capaldis of Brora.

We were so impressed with the food - every course was well cooked, generously portioned, nicely presented and full of flavour. It was obvious that the ingredients had been carefully sourced from local suppliers which was nice to see.

Breakfast the next morning was served in a separate room, and we had a choice of cooked breakfast options along with juices, hot drinks and toast brought to the table. One thing to improve would be for any non-cooked breakfast options like cereal or fruit to be available, but it may have been because it was a quieter time in the visitor season. We were still very happy with our breakfast, particularly the eggs which were delicious.

Our room was really nicely decorated in a muted grey. It was warm and comfortable, with a nice range of lighting choices which made it feel homely and relaxing. Our room was dog friendly and there was plenty of floor space for Bartie's bed.

The bathroom was small but nicely fitted and the shower was very powerful - always a good thing! 

The staff we dealt with were locals and were chatty, friendly and happy to share their knowledge of the local area.

As it’s only just over an hour’s drive from Wick or Thurso, we’d definitely be happy to stay at the Golspie Inn for a weekend getaway. We had a lovely time and would return during the summer to take advantage of sitting outside for a meal on the decking. And. there’s certainly plenty to do, either if you are spending one or two nights here on leisure or business, or to use as a longer-term comfortable base for exploring the whole of the east coast and central Sutherland.

To stay at the Golspie Inn or to make enquiries, visit: Golspie Inn Hotel for B&B, Bar, Restaurant Hotel Accommodation NC500