Enjoy a mid-week break in Inverness
A mid-week break
I've travelled to Inverness, capital of the Scottish Highlands, for work for a few months now, and albeit some of my trips have been longer than others, staying in the city with an intention to explore and relax with my partner was a welcome break. Those scheduled trips often included a stay in a characterless hotel chain, in which breakfast is questionably over-cooked by the time any non-working person arrives to the restaurant, and in which the vegetarian meal options are countable with one hand.
Don't take me wrong, it's good that the city can cater for everyone. But I like that this time, I got to experience something different. Our two night getaway started at the city's bus and train station - I arrived from a work trip in Fort William, and my partner from Glasgow by train. Inverness is well connected to not only these two places, but also further away, with the Caledonian Sleeper trains rolling in daily from London. And once you're at the location, it's easy to get around on foot or on bikes.
We were booked into Glen Mhor, a hotel built into a cluster of Victorian houses on the banks of River Ness. Tartan was a dominant pattern both in the reception but also in our room, making the stay feel even more Scottish. The suite room was located on the ground floor, boasting with grand views of the River Ness (and of everyone walking past) from the bay window. The bed was so large I could've slept on it horizontally, and everything was neat and tidy - until we'd unpacked...
Before heading for dinner at the hotel's own Riverside restaurant, we went to explore some of the great views outside. The sun was just about to set, so we grabbed the city's electric bike share Hi-Bikes from the train station, and took them for a ride around the Ness Island and finished at the Inverness Castle, which was crowded by other sunset watchers.
After the fresh air we were ready for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. In the last couple of years, we've really come accustomed to ordering food in, and eating it whilst watching telly. But it's much more special to sit down and actually enjoy not only the food that someone else has prepared for you, but also the company, in a great setting.
Our breakfast was served at the Riverside Restaurant where we had our dinner as well. The morning light really showed how great the location is. While tucking into our cooked breakfasts, crunchy toast and mugful of coffee we could watch River Ness flow pass. Although a buffet breakfast is convenient time-wise, as you can get your appetite fulfilled at your own pace, it's hardly ever as good quality as a table-served one, and Glen Mhor's breakfast was no exception.
It's amazing to have these small holidays with your friends, partner or even by yourself. It's great to have a break from the normal routines, and explore and share some new memories in places which we might already know. I've visited Inverness plenty of times, but the city always has something new to offer and it feels special to start having favourite "go-to" places in a town that is not your home.
One of these is now going to be Tiger on the Wall, an Indian restaurant we chose for dinner for our second night was almost directly across from Glen Mhor. They serve lovely, belly-hugging and not too spicy dishes that were a nice change to all of the modern Scottish food we'd predominantly been enjoying before. It was a great way to end the rainy day that we had been mostly strolling around the main streets of the city, window-shopping.
As the weather slowed down our plans on the second day, we squeezed in a planned visit to Dores before catching our train home. We picked up another two Hi-Bikes from the train station and started the journey towards Loch Ness and the beautiful Dores Beach. The route that is almost a fully traffic free cycling path takes you through Inverness neighbourhoods into the beautiful countryside hills. It was a windy day, but with the electric assistance the bikes had, the 9 mile journey to Dores felt effortless. The loch was splashing in the wind with little foamy waves, and plenty of dogs were having fun in the water on the pebbled beach (no masters were seen), making it seem like a lovely place for a picnic - but perhaps the weather in early March is not the most suitable for that.
We fed some ducks, and soaked in the beautiful view of the loch, sheltered by the hills that looked so tranquil in contrast to the splashing waves, and then headed into Dores Inn, the cosy bar-restaurant that is nestled right next to the beach. The dining room was filled with a faint smell of smoke as at the far back, a real fie was crackling away and regularly tended by the staff. We enjoyed a hearty lunch in the inn, where a faint smell of smoke lingered as at the far back a live fire cackled away. And then headed back out to our bikes and returned to the city. After returning them to the train station we had time to grab train snacks and then sit down and enjoy yet another beautiful sunset on the hills, this time witnessed through the train windows.
Although it was only a few midweek days long - which might not suit everyone's schedules - our wee holiday proved that Inverness has a lot to offer whether it's the height of summer, or the very early spring.