NC500 – Places to Stay Along the Way

 Scotland's NC500 is a spectacular 500 km touring route around northern coast, starting in Inverness.

We spent 10 days driving this epic route, and while many people choose to travel using a camper van, there is a wide variety of accommodation along the way.

North coast 500 accommodation

Where to Stay on the NC500

We stayed in everything from castles to farm houses. If you decide to explore Scotland's answer to Route 66, we suggest you try all the different types of accommodation there is; so, to make that easy, we're breaking down the pros and cons of where we stayed.

Our Route along the NC500

nc500 route

The entire North Coast 500 route

NC500 Accommodation

Inverness: Kingsmills Hotel

We started our NC500 road trip in Inverness. You should allow at least two days to explore this picturesque town. It's the capital of the Highlands and there is a lot of Highlander history in Inverness.

It also makes a perfect home base from which to explore Loch Ness, where you may be one of the lucky ones who spy Nessie on the misty water.

kingsmills hotel Inverness

Entrance to Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness

The Kingsmills Hotel is located on a golf course just outside the downtown core. The hotel is exactly what you'd expect and want when visiting Scotland.

Set in a large historic mansion on a massive treed property, you will feel as if you've stepped back in time.

Another great road trip to check out is the Wild Atlantic Way – see our recommendations of where to stay!

kingsmills hotel golf course inverness

The Golf Course

We stayed in the newer spa portion of the hotel and the rooms were spacious, comfortable, and offered great views of the golf course.

Start off with a massage to loosen those muscles before you hit the road and relax by the pool, or take advantage of the sauna before your 500 mile journey.

Going for a long drive? Stock up your tunes with our list of Our Favourite Road Trip Songs

Kingsmills Hotel and Spa Inverness

The Kingsmills Spa

 

Parking is free and breakfasts are included.

Find dates and prices for Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness

The Kingsmills Hotel & Kingsclub
Culcabock Road, Inverness,
Scotland, IV2 3LP
Tel: +44 (0) 1463 237 166

Dornoch Castle: Dornoch

Just an hour north of Inverness, our next accommodation was at Dornoch Castle, located right in the market square of Dornoch. This was our first castle stay in Scotland and it did not disappoint.

Dornoch Castle is home to one of the best whisky bars on earth. It was voted the #1 Whisky Hotel of the Year by whiskybase.com.

dornoch castle dornoch

Beautiful Dornoch Castle

It was here that we ordered a flight of whisky to taste. The bartender asks you a few questions to decide the taste you will like and then offers you your choice of whiskeys in a wide range of prices. There's something to suit any budget.

This is a hotel you won't want to leave. The set dinner menu is divine with friendly and helpful staff, the rooms make you feel like royalty, and the bar makes you feel like you are sitting in a 17th century tavern as the fire roars and the whiskey pours.

dornoch castle whisky bar

Award-winning Whisky Bar at Dornoch Castle

Find dates and prices for Dornoch Castle

Dornoch Castle
Castle Street, Dornoch Sutherland IV253SD
T: 01862 810216

Ackergill Tower: Wick

Ackergill Tower was the perfect base for exploring the northernmost point of Scotland.  John O'Groats is the spot where you see all those beautiful sea cliffs and stacks that make the NC500 so spectacular.

Spend the day exploring the wildlife and scenery, then head back to Ackergill Tower for a night of pure decadence.

Ackergill Tower Scotland

Ackergill Tower

We stayed in the large Nun's room, which even has an old prayer nook in the corner where the inhabitants used to pray. This is the castle that will remind you most of Downton Abbey.

We dressed in our rooms for dinner, where we joined other guests in the main hall for a four course meal. Once we dined, we all retired to various rooms for after dinner drinks and conversation.

north cost 500 accommodation ackergill tower

Our suite at Ackergill Tower

This 16th century tower has a lot of history, and you can sit by the fire reading about its checkered past as you enjoy a dram of whiskey.

The hotel was in ruins from the 1890s to 1986 and changed hands a couple of times before it was finally renovated in 2012 and opened for business.

Find dates and prices for Ackergill Tower

Ackergill Tower
Nr Wick, KW1 4RG
+44 (0)1955698389

We love road trips! Enjoy we included the NC500 in our best road trips we've ever taken. 

Tongue Hotel: Sutherland

As you make your way around the North Tip of the NC500, you'll find that the Tongue Hotel is a very popular place to stay.

Tongue was a former sporting lodge that once again made me think of Downton Abby. I remember an episode where the Crawley family visited relatives in the Scottish Highlands to hunt for bucks, and this could have been that lodge.

north coast 500 accommodation tongue hotel

Our room at the Tongue Hotel

 

It has a cozy atmosphere with large rooms, and there's always someone offering a drop of sherry when you arrive.

Castle Varrich is a good hike from the hotel. It was closed and hidden under scaffolding during our visit as they were excavating some bones found on the grounds, but the landscape around the cottage was one of the most beautiful sights we saw in all of Scotland.

tongue hotel scotland sitting room

Sitting room at Tongue Hotel

 

Ask for directions for the scenic view at the hotel rather than driving directly to Durness. We took the old road that looped around incredible mountains and glassy lakes and had the road all to ourselves.

Don't worry, you come out of the loop at the Kyle of Tongue Bridge so you'll still be able to drive across picturesque 600 foot long bridge.

Find dates and prices for The Tongue Hotel

The Tongue Hotel
Sutherland, IV27 4XD
Phone: 01847611206

Smoo Cave Hotel: Durness

One of our favourite spots along the North Coast 500 was the village of Smoo, where we explored the Smoo Caves and Balnakeil Bay and its beautiful beach.

We didn't stay in this town, but if we did, we would have chosen the Smoo Cave Hotel. It's a basic hotel, but the location is a perfect stop after driving from Tongue, giving you the chance to spend a day or two in Smoo. There's a good bar and they have some of the best Haggis around.

Smoo Cave Hotel
Durness Sutherland IV27 4QB
T: 01971 511227

Kylesku Hotel: Sutherland

It was a big day of driving for us after exploring Smoo, and there was still a lot more to see. If we weren't on such a strict schedule, we would have stayed at the Kylesku Hotel.

It's the current Scottish Hotel of the Year and an excellent base for exploring northwest Scotland. The scenery here was spectacular and we saw many bucks along the way.

kylesku hotel scotland

The Kylesku Hotel

To us, it seemed the perfect location for exploring the mountains and lochs of the area. If we go back, we'll definitely stay here.

Find dates and prices for Kylesku Hotel

Kylesku Hotel
Kylesku, Sutherland, IV27 4HW

Croft 338 B&B

Our drive took us forward, however, to the town of Croft.

The drive before and after Croft is probably one of the most beautiful drives along the way, with narrow winding roads through the mountains of Assynt.

bnb on the nc500

The Croft 338 B&B

 

The Croft 338 B&B is very basic with two bedrooms located in a farmer's house. Our bedroom had its own private bath and we spent the night taking advantage of the wifi and cable TV. T

he hosts are friendly and welcoming and prepare a delicious breakfast.

Head farther south for another great road trip in Bosnia & Herzegovina

This was a long day of driving, and Croft is a good stop for breaking off the long kilometers you'll be covering along the North Coast.

Our fellow patrons of the hotel had spent several days in Croft, making it their home base for several hikes in the area.

Westlea House Boutique B&B: Ullapool

ullapool hotel westlea

The Westlea BnB

 

This was by far our favourite NC500 Accommodation and we wish we had had two nights here. We could have spent more time exploring the scenic drive from Clachtoll to Lochinver.

There are incredible hikes and scenic views in the area, and you should give yourself time to stay in Ullapool.

ullapool hotels westlea interior

Our room at the Westlea B&B

 

Westlea House was a chic boutique hotel that was carefully decorated with a modern design. The sitting area is filled with books to read and there's even a vinyl room where you can listen to classic music in a private nook.

boutique hotel north coast 500

Common area at the Westlea Boutique Hotel

 

It was pouring rain when we arrived and we were more than happy to spend the afternoon relaxing in our large room with an old fashioned tub, enjoying tea, biscuits, and a little nap while wrapped in our cozy duvet.

Find dates and prices for Westlea House

Westlea House Boutique B&B
2 Market St, Ullapool, Ross-shire, IV26 2XE
T: 01854 612594

The Old Inn: Gairloch

During our time in Gairloch, we covered a lot of ground. The weather was spectacular and we drove far and wide to take in the views. We found it a good base for checking out all the sites from Gairloch to Applecross.

We spent two nights at the Old Inn, an old Coaching Inn that is warm and inviting. There are plenty of sights around the area, some that are mere minutes away and others that are an hour plus drive.

However, each stop is worth it and Gairloch makes for a good home base.

old inn gairloch scotland

The Old in outside Gariloch

The Old Inn is located a few miles outside of downtown so meal choices are limited, but they do have a good seafood menu that is reasonably priced.

There's pub in the hotel that attracts many locals and has won Pub of the Year. It's an ideal setting to unwind and relax.

Each room has pamphlets and books explaining the clan history of the area, and you can sign out DVDs if you can't find what you want on the telly.

old in room gairloch scotland

Our room at the Old Inn

 

Find dates and prices for The Old Inn

The Old Inn
Flowerdale Glen, Gairloch Ross-shire
T: 01445 712006

Plockton Hotel

Located on the waterfront of Plockton, the Plockton Hotel is the most popular spot in town. With a Michelin rated pub, it has some of the best pub food and atmosphere in Scotland.

We ate there each night, enjoying local seafood with whiskey and wine.

plocton hotel scotland

Downtown Plockton Hotel

The rooms were modern and warm with elegant bathrooms and comfortable bedding, where we slept inside a fluffy duvet.

There's even an outdoor terrace to take in the sunset and enjoy a cocktail before dinner.

interior plockton hotel

Rooms in the Plockton Hotel

 

Plockton is another good town for exploring everywhere, from the scenic Bealach na Ba Pass and the towns of Appleton and Torridon to the Isle of Skye and the Reraig Forest. If you have just a short amount of time in Northern Scotland, this could be the place to choose.

There is so much to do within a short drive and the family owned Plockton Hotel's friendly staff will make you feel right at home.

northern scotland views

Looking at another beautiful NC500 View

Find dates and prices for The Plockton Hotel

The Plockton Hotel
41 Harbour Street – Plockton – IV52 8TN
T: 01599 544 274

The NC500 will soon be known as one of the greatest drives in the world. The single track roads may be turned to double lane highways in the future and more hotels will be popping up everywhere.

But if you get there quick, you'll enjoy old Scottish hospitality with some extraordinary scenic views. So what are you waiting for? Book your North Coast 500 Accommodation now, rooms fill up fast and you may miss out if you wait!

Our trip to Scotland was in partnership with British Tourism. To find out about more travel through the UK, visit their website  VisitBritain.com


Read More:

Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way

The Essential Guide to the North Coast 500

8 Things to do in Inverness

16 of the Best Road Trips in the World


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