It shouldn’t be any surprise that more and more people are adding the North Coast 500 to their Scotland itinerary. While the popularity of the North Coast 500 grows it is now become difficult to find good accommodation within budget. Even with the wide range of great places to stay like old estates, hostels, B&Bs, luxury hotels, castles, and budget hotels it’s still important to find the right place for you.
Like many travelers enjoying the North Coast 500, we stayed at a wide range of accommodation while we drove the route. These are all the great places we stayed on our drive that started in Inverness and ended in Applecross. Note that every one of these North Coast 500 Accommodation providers include breakfast unless mentioned.
Our North Coast 500 Accommodation
Kingsmills Hotel – Inverness
Pretty much every North Coast 500 road trip starts or ends in the highland capital of Inverness. Accommodation is limited for the demand, but those lucky enough to book in advance can score rooms at the Kingsmills Hotel. The Kingsmill is one of the best places to stay in the city. The hotel offers wonderful service based out of a 17th Century residence. Although we personally found ourselves in their new building adjacent the old hotel with larger rooms and a balcony opening out to a golf course. An activity that is certain to be enjoyed by avid golfers staying at the hotel. Our room here was spacious, comfortable, good for business, and modern making it a great base to explore Inverness.
Old Drynie House – Black Isle
This was actually the first “true” bed and breakfast we have stayed at together (even after 60 countries!). It was a splendid experience and the character of a well run Scottish bed and breakfast makes it a must for anyone traveling the North Coast 500. We had a lovely pink room with a fireplace, sitting lounge, and it was even stocked with a nice selection of DVD’s (Tasha was thrilled when she found Love Actually). The morning’s breakfast was beautifully served on lovely china in a group setting. The selection of fresh fruits, baked goods, and hot breakfast items was splendid. Having smoked Scottish salmon and eggs in the morning is a real treat when in Scotland.
The Old Manse Bed & Breakfast – Invergordon
We were welcomed like family into the Old Manse Bed and Breakfast. The building here dates back to the 1780’s; however, you’d never guess by the well-appointed rooms. The bed and breakfast is perfectly relaxing offering views over the surrounding countryside filled with distilleries and golf courses. The Cromarty Firth close by offer a coastal escape close by. The rooms seemed to preserve all the details of the old home while offering us modern comforts like flat screen TV’s, WiFi, and a tea/coffee bar. If golf, whisky, or just relaxation is what you have this makes for great North Coast 500 accommodation.
Invershin Hotel – Invershin
This guesthouse makes an excellent stopping point and watering hole if you want to break inland and watch salmon jump up the Falls of Shin. The countryside is filled with lovely forests and small towns, perfect for walkers. This is also the area we went mountain biking around a castle with Heaven Bikes! The lively pub has live music and a warm atmosphere that’s perfect for getting to relax and enjoy a wee bit of Scottish culture. Our room here was comfortable, modern, and offered castle views across the river. Check it out on Airbnb!
Natural Retreats – John O’ Groats
This is probably one of the coolest places to stay when it comes to North Coast 5oo accommodation. These glass faced self-catering apartments are located in the most Northernly town in Scotland, John O’ Groats, on the British Isle. The modern apartments offer massive glass windows that provide plenty of light in the spacious layouts. They come equipped with awesome features like a mud room, media hub, a large kitchen, a front porch, coffee machine, wood stove, and three full bedrooms making it perfect for families. Waking up to mesmerizing views of the Orkney islands is one of the best ways to start your day on the route. We also loved being able to get cozy next to our wood stove after dinner.
Kyle of Tongue Hostel – Tongue
When you start reaching deep into the highlands of Scotland accommodation becomes pretty scarce. We got lucky and found this cozy hostel as the perfect place to hide from the dramatic weather of Northern Scotland. The hostel sits right on the banks of the Kyle of Tongue. They have a kitchen if you want to cook your own meal (as food is not provided) and a living room with a fireplace to warm up after a wet day in the highlands or a long day on the North Coast 500. You don’t have to book shared accommodation either, they have private rooms!
Glencanisp Lodge – Lochinver
If you’re looking for the perfect gateway into the Assynt then look no further than the Glencanisp lodge. The b&b is the headquarters for hikers looking to explore the Assynt, famed for its mountains, rugged landscapes, and wildlife. It has a large living room with a fire place to get cozy up next to after a long day of hiking. The chefs here also provide amazing food for guests in their recently opened kitchen. We were actually the first patrons of the season and highly suggest you enjoy a meal here!
Poolewe Hotel – Poolewe
This simple guest house is a classic rest stop along the route. They have a no non-sense pub serving up the classic hits at an affordable price. The pub keeps up a lively atmosphere as it’s one of the few watering holes in town. Rooms here were clean and comfortable and the WiFi worked well. It’s not a luxury property, but offers everything a traveler needs on the road.
The Torridon Inn – Wester Ross
The Torridon Inn and Pub are built to serve those looking to explore the area. The rooms inside are cozy and modern with all of the amenities you could need after exploring the Torridon Mountains. The inn and pub and located on grounds right along Loch Torridon and work as the perfect base for a long walk into the region. The pub also serves up some classic Scottish dishes with a modern touch making that makes for a great evening.
These are the hotels, guesthouses, lodges, and B&Bs we stayed at on the North Coast 500. We were there during the middle of September and for the most part they were booked up, which we found was the case for many locations in Scotland. North Coast 500 accommodation books up fast as the route rises in popularity so it’s best to book well in advance especially if you are traveling between May-October. You can search more places to stay along the NC500 here.
If booking traditional accommodation is not your cup of tea you can also try Airbnb. We use AirBnb all the time because we prefer staying in homes instead of traditional hotels. If it’s your first time using the service click here for $40 off your first booking!
What to Pack for Scotland
It should go without saying after all the talk of weather that this is the most important item in your suitcase. You have two options for style of rain jackets. The first one we recommend is a classic outdoor rain jacket that is a solid choice for outdoor adventurers. The second option being a trench coat for those looking to maintain style while dodging puddles. One of the best raincoats for travel is the North Face Resolve.
The fleece sweater is a perfect layer when combined with an outer shell to keep you warm. We purchased wool sweaters from independent retailers in Scotland, but good ones weren’t easy to find. For those with less time a little bit of online shopping for wool sweaters will suffice. Start here!
Hiking PantsTechnical pants like these are water resistant and dry quickly, not to mention they’re comfortable on long walks. These pants can be pretty ugly, but if you’re serious about exploring the highlands of Scotland I would suggest picking up a pair.
It’s wet in Scotland and you can expect a lot of boggy weather so packing a pair of good waterproof boots for hikes is crucial for protecting your feet. Good Boots or hiking shoes for Scotland are essential.
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem everywhere so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps in Scotland is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well. However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.
Remember that Scotland uses the three-prong British plug. Make sure you have one for visiting!
Transport around Scotland
Most trips to Scotland will start and end in Edinburgh Airport. The best way to travel around Scotland is with a rental car, especially if you’re traveling with a group. Driving in Scotland is no joke and it’s important to realize that before you rent a vehicle. For starters, the Scots drive on the left side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right.
Second, instead of stop lights and signs to idle at most of the roads in Scotland run smoothly because of roundabouts. Yes, roundabouts. Those are the circle streets you may get a wee bit nervous about driving on if you’re not used to them.
Third and most important – the roads on the North Coast 5oo are often small single track roads fit for just one vehicle at a time. There are passing points every 400 meters or so to let oncoming traffic get through. The car closest to a passing point should be the one to yield. Our best car rental experiences have been with SiXT. Check car rental prices here.
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