This post is an advertised post. I received two nights of complimentary accommodation in exchange for an impartial review of the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage.
There's a definite rise in people looking for unique self-catering accommodation for their holidays, whether that's by way of dramatic location, timeless features of the property, or proximity to experiencing life like a local. There's a growing trend of folk looking for connection, rather than the relative anonymity that you can get from a hotel stay. Off the back of my 'Unique Accommodation in Caithness post' way back in 2018, and their recent accolade of finalist in the Highlands and Islands 2019 Tourism Awards (for best self-catering experience/alternative accommodation category) within their first year of business, I was invited to stay at the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage, near Wick in the far north of Scotland.
The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage can sleep up to six people and has a bathroom, a kitchen which adjoins a dining room, and separate lounge space. A minimum stay is 3 nights at any time of year, and during the darker winter months of November - February, guests can have early check-in from 2 pm so that they can get their bearings in the daylight. Entry is via a key stored in a lockbox, the code is provided before your arrival.
The master bedroom has a very comfortable king-size bed, which can also be set up as a twin bed.
Each bedroom has some lovely touches of art or books relating to the natural environment of the local area, the lighthouse, or wildlife and nature.
The bunk bedroom also had lovely editions of Treasure Island and Kidnapped. The lighthouse has its very own connection to the author of these famous tales, as R L Stevenson's uncle, Alan designed Noss Head Lighthouse way back in the 1800s. A final third bedroom completes the set. All bedding and towels are provided.
The self-catering kitchen was one of the best we've ever experienced, with everything we think you could ever need to make a range of meals. The fact that we could see most items of equipment, cutlery and crockery on open shelves meant that we didn't go on hunts through cupboards to find what we needed.
The team at the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage take their commitment to the environment to a high level, with guests asked to use the specific recycling and composting bins. Due to this and other eco-conscious decisions taken throughout the property, the cottage has been awarded a silver member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
A welcome pack was left for our arrival - with supplies to make hot drinks, local jam and oatcakes, and a souvenir fridge magnet with a discount code for a return booking. A pint of milk was also left for us and this was perfect to get us started. For longer stays, the team are currently looking at what products would be most helpful for guests, and which showcase the local larder of Caithness goodies. The local Tesco does deliver to Noss Head, so organised folks can order food supplies to their door!
The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage is pooch friendly. Bartie sniffed out his bag of treats as soon as we arrived! Dogs are very welcome in the cottage but are not allowed in the bedrooms. We're in the habit of taking Bartie's things with us, but if you forget, the team have you covered with food and water bowls, and a supply of dog poop bags. (There is a small surcharge to cover the extra cost of cleaning if you have dogs with you).
Children are also well catered for, with a box of activities, and a wide range of books, games and DVDs. We loved these framed prints in the bathroom which has a shower over bath and plenty of storage for your bathroom items.
The dining room is light and airy, and this is where guests will also find a well-curated selection of books, a set of binoculars, shelves bulging with games, and a small honesty shop with items made by local artists, so guests can take home a little piece of Caithness with them.
There's loads of tourist information available, including notice of collaborations with Lisa Weller and Penny Irvine, who are available to run painting and fibre-art workshops in the comfort of the cottage, for those who want to take home their own-made souvenirs of their stay (it's worth checking availability with Lisa or Penny once you've booked your stay at the cottage).
There's also an opportunity for guests to leave their own mark by way of noting down bird and wildlife sightings and of course comments and feedback in the cottage's visitor book. The reviews are glowingly positive and I was happy to add our own review to the mix. Reviews on online platforms also maintain a positive rating (Airbnb, and TripAdvisor are both 5*, and 9.8 on Booking.com) so there are some obviously happy guests who leave the cottage after their break!
The cosy lounge has comfy seating and a huge DVD collection. If we had been very unlucky with the Caithness weather, we would have easily had enough DVDs, books and games to keep us occupied for days! That said, for all that the cottage supplies, it does not seem cluttered, everything seems to have been very carefully chosen to keep on the theme of lighthouses and the natural environment.
I would say that if you were a party of 6 adults, the lounge might seem overcrowded, but for a mix of children and adults, the space is a good size.
The lounge is also where you will find a comprehensive folder of information about the cottage, local area, history of the lighthouse, and tips of things to do, eat and see. A really nice touch is a list of contact details of all the artists who are featured throughout the cottage, so if you want to take home a larger piece of artwork, or treat yourself later, the details are all there for you to remember. The information is also accessible online once you have made your booking. And, if you need to get your bearings for the county of Caithness, then you can just consult a cushion for directions!
The lighthouse keeper's cottage has a unique position on the coastline, looking out onto both sides of the Noss headland. You can look east from the comfort of the cottage porch, but I'd recommend venturing outside, even if it might be "bracing" in the colder months.
Within a 20-second walk of the cottage is the Noss Head Lighthouse. It's still a working lighthouse, so there's no public access inside, but you can walk all the way around for a 360-degree view.
The cottage was home to Alexander Campbell Dishon, Lighthouse Keeper, and his family for a time, and the hallway of the cottage showcases black and white photos from the time that he lived there.
The original lamp used in the Lighthouse is now on display at the Wick Heritage Centre, which is well worth a visit to see the history of Wick and the wider area of Caithness. This is open from April - October.
Just beyond the lighthouse are stunning cliffs where you can see the waves crashing, and sea birds nesting.
Behind the cottage looking inland, on a clear day you can see across to Morven, Caithness's biggest hill, as well as north along the coast towards Ackergill, Keiss and even the Duncansby Head lighthouse.
An easy walk from the Lighthouse Keepers cottage is Castle Sinclair Girnigoe (you can just see the lighthouse in the picture below.) It's a stunning place in any weather, just take care when exploring the castle and the grounds.
There's also a coastal walk in which you can get a different viewpoint of the castle and Sinclair's Bay, before reaching Sandigoe beach, a tiny hidden beach.
You can also walk on the road that approaches the lighthouse from Wick, as you get a great view of the lighthouse against the big Caithness skies.
We absolutely loved our stay at the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage. It was a home-from-home stay, very clean, warm and cosy, with enough things to enjoy inside for a restful stay, as well as being in a great location to explore Caithness. A definite 5* recommendation!
Many thanks to Ben and the team at the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage for ensuring such a lovely stay. All opinions stated in this post are our own.