The Dipping Lugger offers a Highland experience like no other

Ullapool may be relatively close to home, but it feels like the other side of the world.

The visually rewarding landscape alone has a big role to play in this regard.

And there’s something about the fresh air that feels like it does your mind and body a lot of good.

The port city has always been on my “must see” list, and even more so after the opening of the restaurant with rooms, The Dipping Lugger, last September.

The exterior of The Dipping Lugger.

But it wasn’t until the spring of this year that I came face to face with the establishment, which majestically overlooks the shores of Loch Broom.

I hadn’t experienced anything like it from the start.

The diving lugger

Ullapool itself was noticeably quiet with few people wandering along the shingle seafront. The aromas of food from nearby independent restaurants were in the air.

That aside, my boyfriend and I turned our attention to The Dipping Lugger’s eye-catching exterior decor – a brass clam shell affixed to the front door. You can not miss it.

Before we knew it, we were greeted by the general manager of reception, Calum Robertson.

Left to right: Calum Robertson and David Smith, who runs the kitchen.

Could we have benefited from a more granular tour of the restaurant and rooms, better informed about the history of the house itself, or better assisted with any questions we had?

I couldn’t answer “no” quickly enough to all of the above.

Calum knows everything there is to know about The Dipping Lugger. But more importantly, he excels at making guests feel at home – something that I think is lacking in many places.

My boyfriend and I stayed in the Melville room.

The establishment is the first of its kind in the country to have interiors designed by renowned designer Eve Cullen-Cornes. Even the pair of us who (I will say) know very little about interior design were impressed with the attention to detail throughout.

The more time we spent alone in our room, the more we discovered to admire.

Named the Melville – inspired by Robert Melville, appointed the first entrepreneur and merchant by the British Fisheries Society in 1789 to establish Ullapool as a fishing port – our room was one of three elegant and comfortable en-suite bedrooms, all located upstairs.

The soft tartan woolen blankets were among the nice touches in our room.

Not a hair was out of place.

Crisp linens, soft tartan wool blankets, bold wallpaper, a walk-in closet for pampering, and various works of art could be spotted inside.

The bathroom was a substantial size, as was the freestanding roll top bath.

A run to the window revealed stunning views of the loch and nearby mountains. It was paradise.

Our bathroom had a freestanding roll top tub.

I was particularly impressed to learn that the owners, Helen Chalmers and Robert Hicks, work with local artisans to incorporate unique pieces inside The Dipping Lugger, including Highland Stoneware, Simon Eltringham and Charlotte Watters.

The quirky nooks and crannies didn’t stop there.

Calum also informed us that overnight guests can enjoy a nightcap in their very own “Sweet Shop” – a dedicated treasure trove of sweet and liquid treats in the first-floor honesty bar.

Beloved Scottish treats, including all things Tunnocks, could be found inside.

A look inside the Sweet Shop.

Dinner at the 18-seat restaurant

Our stay also included dinner and breakfast.

Later the day we arrived, we discovered that the impressive facilities don’t stop at the accommodation.

The Dipping Lugger is home to an 18-seat restaurant, housed in what was previously the parish rectory, dating back to 1789. It also features an intimate two-table tasting room.

Inside the 18-seat restaurant.

The dining room is overseen by the head chef, David Smith, formerly of Boath House, Nairn, and dinner is served Thursday to Sunday, 7.00pm to 7.30pm.

We were equally intrigued and delighted to sample the seven-course seasonal menu accompanied by matching wines.

Joined by four other guests, the room was welcoming and comfortable. Our window table allowed us to soak up the views which we loved even more.

Freshly baked bread – called Hay on the menu.

The menu featured the fantastic produce the Highlands are famous for, especially Ullapool’s incredible seafood.

After eating snacks, the dishes – as they appeared on the menu – were called Hay, Oyster, Wild Garlic, Scallop, Venison, Crofton and Manjari.

The stars ? Deer and Manjari, the chocolate dessert.

The menu provided little detail on the exact ingredients featured in each dish, but that added to the magic of the experience.

We enjoyed paired wines alongside our dinner.

You are driven to focus on the textures and flavors that emerge. And with so much going on, we both discussed little more than each dish with its accompanying wine.

The dishes were innovative, stunning to look at and delicious.

Breakfast was a three course menu.

We were given apple juice and plain yogurt with apricot and granola to start, before being greeted with a selection of smoked salmon – the smoked was a triumph, and we later discovered, with the help of Calum, that it had been caught in the waters of Ullapool.

A muffin topped with chorizo ​​and a poached egg.

A muffin topped with chorizo ​​and a poached egg concluded the meal.

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, I can say that remains the best start to the day I have had.

As for dinner and breakfast, we were more than impressed. And one thing to note is that there was a perfect interval between each course.

Uninterrupted sleep and the highest quality food we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying made this experience memorable at Dipping Lugger.

A seven-course dinner menu is served Thursday through Sunday.

I congratulate the team and those who made it live.

travel facts

Address: 4 West Shore Street, Ullapool, IV26 2UR

Tel: 01854 613344


Room prices start at £430 for dinner and breakfast, based on two people sharing accommodation. The rooms are currently open for reservation from Thursday to Sunday.

Dinner is served Thursday through Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. £75 per person, with optional food and wine pairing for £50 per person.

Lunch is served from Friday to Sunday, from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. £35 per person, with optional food and wine pairing for £25 per person.

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[The Dipping Lugger offers a Highland experience like no other]