Article Published In The Herald Newspaper

The following is from an article published in The Herald on 29 May 1999: Time for the human touch

The Good Night Guide:
For those seeking a spot of Highland hospitality, Cameron Simpson believes he has the perfect candidate.

B&B in Scotland

My first thought after our car had burrowed its way through a tunnel of trees and lit on the Victorian splendour of Glendruidh House Hotel was 'Yes, this is it!'

Some time later over a restorative real ale in the hotel's snug bar with a welcoming coal fire, which is only outshone by owner/host/raconteur Michael Smith in his rather natty tartan waistcoat, I found that my first impression was far from original.

Michael and Christine Smith bought the house from Lord Russell Johnston, the then Liberal MP for the area, in 1983. They had exhausted the Highlands looking for a suitable property before finding themselves in an Inverness launderette on Christmas Eve with no place to call home. A spin through the local paper, however, produced a chance candidate.

But it was Christmas Eve. Would the owners find room and let them in?

Lady Joan Johnston could not have been more welcoming. As the Smiths saw the house for the first time they looked at each other and exclaimed 'Yes, this is it!'

Lady Joan showed them round and over tea, taken standing round the Aga, they agreed to meet the day after Boxing Day to conclude the deal.

Sixteen years later Glendruidh House sits on the periphery of Inverness at the heart of Highland hospitality. Small, warm, comfortable, it specialises in peace and quiet, good food, fine wines and superb malt whiskys.

Christine is a fully trained and enthusiastic cook and loves working with fresh local produce such as venison, beef, salmon and game.

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Christine specialises in very traditional cuisine and leaves the fashionable food to others.

The menu is small - for example, cock-a-leekie, grilled fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef with a marinade of mustard cream sauce, wild raspberry meringue with homemade Drambuie ice cream - and changes daily. To complement it, the house carries 70 wines from 20 premier wine producing regions.

One of the unusual features is that it's non-smoking throughout the house and three-acre gardens. The Smiths took the decision 10 years ago and have found it extremely popular with guests.

Although mainly Victorian, Glendruidh has been advertising on the Internet for five years, and for the past three this has been their largest single source of business.

But ultimately hotels still depend on the human touch, which is where Michael Smith comes into his own.

A Liverpudlian by birth - which makes him an honourary Glaswegian - he is the heart and lungs of Highland hospitality.

Get him to tell you about Fawlty Towers training videos, or just have a chat about politics in the house that belonged to one of the most famous Liberals of all.

I am still chuckling at one of his anecdotes, told him by one of his guests in the run-up to the Holyrood election.

'No matter who I vote for, the government always gets in', the chap noted, echoing a universal sentiment.

But if you have to vote for one hotel, I know where I would put my X.

Glendruidh House, Druid Glen, Old Edinburgh Road South, Inverness IV2 6AR

Telephone: +44 (0) 1463 226499 Fax: +44 (0) 1463 710745 Email: info@coZZee-neSSie-bed.co.uk

Mobile Number: 07527 373247

It's easier to book online at milford.co.uk

This hotel and many more can be booked quickly, simply and securely online at www.milford.co.uk. This page was printed on Tuesday 22 July 2014, and may now be out of date. Please check out our website for the latest prices and availability.