Located in the converted and extended grain store, this luxury offering is a restful escape in rugged Caithness. Run and managed by His Royal Highness’ charity, The Prince’s Foundation, the quirky accommodation is handily situated on the NC500 route, and I was honoured to be invited to attend the opening.
Backstory of The Granary Lodge, Castle of Mey
Firstly, The Granary Lodge is hugely different from your average B&B. HRH The Queen Mother bought the Castle of Mey in 1952, shortly after her husband King George VI, passed away. It was a place of solace and a retreat for her. HRH Prince Charles was reportedly very close to his grandmother, and since her passing in 2002 he still regularly holidays at the castle every summer.
By investing in The Granary Lodge, The Prince’s Foundation is investing in the local community, into local attractions and tourism, and into the Castle of Mey itself. But from a guest’s point of view, after a typically windswept day in Caithness, the Granary Lodge is simply heavenly!
Check In at The Granary Lodge, Castle of Mey
The Granary Lodge makes quite an impression. Perched on a clifftop, crafted from Caithness stone with vivid blue paintwork, it appears smart, yet rural and homely. Three sides of the building have sea views, and these stretch right across the Pentland Firth to Orkney. It’s said if you’re lucky you may even spot the Northern Lights.
As I was on a press trip I didn’t experience a standard check-in, but in this intimate venue I can say that the staff are friendly, welcoming, extremely helpful and personable. Unsurprisingly, the Prince’s Foundation attracts good staff!
My Room at The Granary Lodge, Castle of Mey
The bedrooms are really quite floral, tapping into the Queen Mother’s tastes at the Castle of Mey, but it’s beautifully done. I was booked into Room 2 with its signature green leaf and white flower textiles gracing the curtains, cushions, headboard and bed coverings. With framed prints of ferns and a few rural landscapes I found the decor remarkably calming. Every other bedroom I visited (on a tour, not just being nosy) had the same effect – nature, flora and fauna combined to create restful interiors. I don’t usually comment on beds, unless they’re particularly excellent or poor, but the Glencraft beds (famously made in Aberdeen) were wonderful!
The ensuite bathrooms may be brand new but they feature Heritage suites, complemented by bold wallpaper in calming hues of blues and greens – again, colour schemes that I spotted within the Castle of Mey.
The Granary Lodge doesn’t boast a long list of facilities, it offers relaxation and escape. To this end the Drawing Room is a haven. The armchairs, booths and sofas, in dusky pinks and blues, were sectioned off allowing different groups to share the same space comfortably.
I was travelling childfree, which admittedly made things quieter and more relaxed, but I can picture children playing boardgames at the table or reading books by the fire (until they fight about something or need the toilet, of course). The coastal theme echoed the all encompassing sea views.
A licensed honesty bar means adults can quaff a glass of wine once the tots are asleep.
Food & Drink
The Granary Lodge plans to start serving evening meals in Summer 2019, and the aim is to provide quality homely dishes featuring local produce. In terms of the breakfast, I had the Vegan Breakfast Bowl and it was an excellent choice – sliced avocado, scrambled tofu, quinoa and mushrooms. A more traditional Scottish breakfast, or Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Eggs also graced the menu.
The Dining Room is a smart place to start the day. Dark wood furniture, grandfather clocks, images of around eighty clans, and great views out to sea.
A few metres from the Castle of Mey, the Granary Lodge is wonderfully situated if you’re seeking an unspoiled corner of Scotland. It’s quite remote but that’s its charm. But considering it’s on the NC500, it’s not that remote really.
The Castle tours are hugely informative, providing insight and anecdotes about the Queen Mother’s time here. It also offers a Walled Garden, Visitor Centre and Animal Centre, which should appeal to the kids. Nearby you can visit John O Groats, Dunnet Head and its lighthouse (the most northerly point in mainland Britain), the Duncansby Stacks and (if you’re childfree) head off gin-tasting at Dunnet Bay Distillery, famous for Rock Rose Gin.
I flew direct from Aberdeen to Wick (flights also depart from Edinburgh), then caught a cab to the castle (about £30-£40). On the return leg I caught the train – Wick and Thurso both have railway stations. Private transport or a hire car is recommended for sight-seeing.
And if you’re wondering if I met His Royal Highness then the answer is yes. Do I have any proof? No, it wasn’t really a selfie moment!