Scotland’s North Coast 500 is a great way to take in the spectacular coastline, but unless you plan to drive the 500-mile route in a day, you’ll need somewhere to stay. Bespoke Hotels has five suggestions.Tulloch Castle is located above the ancient town of Dingwall, about 25 minutes’ drive west of Inverness, where the North Coast 500 begins. The castle, which dates from the 12th century, is now a 20-bedroom hotel, retaining many of its period features, including the 250-year old panelled Great Hall and the painstakingly restored fireplaces and ceilings. From £34 per person per night for two nights, including full Scottish breakfast and dinner on the first night. Just over an hour’s drive west of Dingwall is The Gairloch Hotel on Gairloch Bay. With its mountainous backdrop, panoramic views of the Western Isles and sweeping white-sand beaches, Gairloch is one of the country’s prettiest spots and the hotel is an excellent base from which to explore. It has 70 bedrooms, some of which offer four-poster beds, and can give you all the information you need if you decide to abandon the car for a day or two and do some walking. From £54 per person per night for two nights, including full Scottish breakfast and dinner on one night.Around 55 miles north via a circuitous but extremely scenic route is the Caledonian Hotel, in the picturesque fishing town of Ullapool. Built in the early 1900s, the 83-bedroom Caledonian Hotel overlooks the harbour from where you can take the ferry to the Isle of Lewis for the day. Otherwise, try your hand at some traditional Highland activities, from sea and loch fishing to deer stalking. From £26.50 per person per night for two nights, including full Scottish breakfast and dinner on the first night.The next suggested stop is The Royal Hotel in Thurso, 140 miles away on Scotland’s north coast. Thurso is the gateway to Orkney and offers miles of empty sandy beaches. It’s also within easy reach of John O’Groats and the late Queen Mother’s beloved Castle of Mey, so it's well worth stopping here for a couple of days. From £32.00 per person per night for two nights, including full Scottish breakfast and dinner on the first night.Heading 68 miles south now to Dornoch, where Bespoke Hotels suggests you stop off at The Dornoch Hotel. Surrounded by beaches and forestry walks, the 105-room Dornoch Hotel is ideal for exploring Easter Ross and Ben Armine Forest. And it's only an hour’s drive from here back to the start of the route at Inverness. From £52 per person per night for two nights, including full Scottish breakfast and dinner on one night.
BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN