In Autumn 2018 we took ourselves off west at the kind invitation of the Melvich Hotel, for a little one-night dinner, bed and breakfast stay! The drive from Wick is about 45 minutes, the perfect distance to feel like that you're getting away from it all in the knowledge that home is not too far away on the return leg, but it's also a brilliant base for visitors exploring the north coast!
Disclaimer: We were guests in exchange for this post and so this post is marked as an AD.
On entering the reception area, there are some serious beach vibes which continue their way along most of the public areas of the hotel. Think distressed wood with gathered shells and pebbles scattered on shelves and in displays!
The calm bluey-white walls herald the close proximity to the waves at Melvich beach (less than a 20-minute walk, and signposted from the main road which is also the NC500 route, you can also go and drive down a track to the beach car park, or you can go to Portskerra for a nice coastal wak). Our check-in took slightly longer than expected as the front-of-house staff were away from the desk on our arrival, but once we met, check-in was a breeze - we reserved our table for dinner and were shown to our room.
The rooms are all situated along a corridor which I think must be an extension to the original building, which was welcoming guests back in the 1800s! Some of the rooms have a spectacular view east of the cliffs and bay, but if you aren't lucky in bagging a room with a coastal view, it's an easy walk into the hotel garden to enjoy it in the open air.
Being one of only a few guests checking in for the night, we did enjoy the view from the comfort of our room, which was spacious, and had more than enough room for us and our Labrador's bed too! In our room, there was also a pull-out futon along with the comfiest king bed - ideal for families staying.
Our L-shaped en-suite bathroom was no less spacious, having both a bath and shower, and complimentary Scottish toiletries.
Our tea tray was standard with the added extra of delicious shortbread, baked just over the county border in Caithness.
Before sunset closed in on us, we took our walk down to the beach, the access for this is up and over the dunes once you reach the car park.
A group of surfers were like little pins bobbing in the water until they took the chance to catch a wave and we enjoyed watching them!
On our return, we freshened up and enjoyed a pre-dinner drink with our books in the resident's lounge which has a little more formal atmosphere than the other areas in the Melvich hotel. I can imagine that the visiting fishermen from yesteryear returning from a day's fishing on the nearby rivers and lochs would have been overjoyed to sink into one of these comfy sofas.
We hadn't partaken in any such pursuits but sank into the sofas with our drinks all the same! As well as magazines, and books there is also a small selection of games should you want to challenge any of the other residents. We however had booked our table for dinner, so headed back with our drinks into the restaurant.
Before we get onto the food, one of the talking points of the Melvich Hotel is this gorgeous mural of the north coastline, which stretches the entire length of the restaurant. If you are travelling the way of the North Coast 500, you can see how far you've come, and where you will be heading next!
When you get up close to the wall, it is quite staggering how much detail artist Tamara Hicks has gone to - every jagged bit of the coast, rivers and lochs have been painstakingly detailed.
Onto the food, and in our mind there's one thing that you come for - pizza! The menu does offer non-dough main courses too, but the pizza is the real deal, with their names reflected by the nearby areas of Caithness and Sutherland, and these vintage pictures are dotted around the reception and entrance to the restaurant.
Each pizza (you can choose from a small or large size) comes served on a wooden platter with just enough room to also hold a side order of crisp potato fries or sweet potato fries, and as well as the pizza combos offered, you can also create your own. Being a meat feast fiend, Mr B chose a Torrisdale (chicken, red onion, chorizo, bacon) and added some meatballs for good measure!
Not being one to shy away from red meat either, I chose to create my own, with my chosen toppings being Dexter meatballs, black pudding, mozzarella and roasted red peppers. The pizza itself is so light, and not heavy in the slightest.
I also added a starter size Chicken Caesar salad alongside, which was huge serving, but possibly a little over-croutoned for our liking. Maybe that was our error for ordering alongside our pizza carb fest! As a result, we both ate half our pizzas and the rest was boxed up for our planned adventures the following day.
This all meant that we had room to sample pudding, and I chose a selection of Capaldi's of Brora ice cream which was delicious, especially the new Halkirk tablet flavour which is just about perfect (I also had raspberry ripple and honeycomb).
Mr B had the homemade fudgy brownie and a scoop of ice cream, followed by an espresso to round things off nicely! It's worth noting that for whisky enthusiasts, the Melvich Hotel has a whisky menu with over 90 whiskies, and also a smaller gin selection of around 10 varieties to sample.
With only 9 tables in the restaurant (although takeaway is available on Fridays and Saturday nights during high season and on other special dates in the year), fairy lights galore and a really good playlist, there was a really relaxing atmosphere and we felt completely at home! Before long though, it was time to retire to our room, where we used the reliable WiFi to stream our new favourite boxset, although the bed was so comfy my eyelids were definitely dropping before the end!
Our night's sleep was really peaceful, we had our window open so could hear a gentle breeze accompanied by the occasional cow mooing! The only disturbance we had was our own dog who decided he really wanted to have his breakfast at 6 am, so that was the only unwelcome wake-up call, but fortunately, I was able to drift off back to sleep!
Breakfast is served at the Melvich Hotel between 8 am-9.30 am, so we ventured on back to the restaurant, where we reclaimed the same table as we had enjoyed dinner the previous night. The difference was that we now had a view of the garden and cliffs as we pondered how to start our day. As well as a good selection of cereals, and juices, our toast could be accompanied by local jams from Caithness Summer Fruits. I love businesses that support other local businesses, so that's a big plus-point in my book.
We both had the Scottish breakfast, which was the perfect way to set us up for our day - good quality produce and the runniest of egg yolks - perfect!
With Breakfast done, it was time for us to start our day's exploration and head west, with our pizza leftovers in hand! We totally recommend a stay/meal (or both!) at the Melvich Hotel. The staff are so relaxed and friendly and have loads of knowledge of the local area. While decorated in keeping with the local area, it's not a stuffy place and you can feel very much at home with both kids and dogs. It's a perfect base for a one-nighter or a longer stay if you are exploring Caithness and Sutherland. And the pizzas are absolutely the best for miles around!
The Melvich Hotel closes over the autumn/winter period so if you are planning your North Coast 500 break, get your booking in quick! You can keep up to date with restaurant openings over the low season here.
Thanks to Jo, Rob and the team at the Melvich Hotel for such a great stay. I was invited to stay at the Melvich Hotel in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.