As one of the longest-standing hotels in the Scottish Highlands, the history of the Dunalastair Hotel Suites is in many ways the very history of Kinloch Rannoch itself.
Dating back all the way to the late 1700s, this ancient and historic venue has stood at the heart of one of Scotland’s most picturesque regions for over 200 years, during which it has grown and developed to meet the ever-evolving landscape which surrounds it.
Below, the current Dunalastair Hotel Suites’ team head back to the past to explore the unique history of the hotel, the estate, and the surrounding areas.
To begin our story of the area, we must go all the way back to the Jacobite Rising of 1745, when Charles Edward Stuart (often known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) attempted to reclaim the British throne.
With the majority of the British army fighting abroad in Europe, Charles made his way to Scotland where he raised the Jacobite Standard and recruited Highland clansmen to begin his march towards the South.
Although history shows initial victories on the march across the border to England, he was eventually driven back to Inverness where in 1746 the Jacobites were roundly defeated at the Battle of Culloden, near Inverness.
Though this put an end to the Jacobite Rising, it is only the beginning of our story.
At the time, Dùn Alastair (meaning “fort of Alexander”) was home to Alexander Robertson, chieftain of the infamous Clan Donnachaidh. A staunch Jacobite, he built himself a grand property known as The Hermitage, which, unfortunately was destroyed during the 1745 uprising. Another house built on the same site was burnt down accidentally in 1854.
In the years that followed the defeat at Culloden, the defeated soldiers began to slowly but surely regroup, resettle, and rebuild their lives. A number of surviving soldiers began making their way back towards the original home of Alexander Robertson, hoping to settle and begin building a new village which would go on to become Kinloch Rannoch.
In 1788, an inn was built at the entrance of this community, on the very site where the Dunalastair Hotel Suites stands today.
Of course, Loch Rannoch looks very different today than it did in the wake of the Jacobite Rising, and for that, we have to thank one General Sir John Macdonald.
By the 1850s, around the time of the Highland Clearances, the Clan Donnachaidh were no longer living in the area. It was at this time that General MacDonald took over the Dunalastair estate and began to develop Kinloch Rannoch with new buildings, many of which were designed by famous Scottish architect, Andrew Heiton.
Sir John Macdonald was responsible for adding many of the estate features that are still recognisable today, including the Episcopal Church and Kinloch Rannoch Square.
During the development of Kinloch Rannoch, General Macdonald took the inn originally built in 1788, and redeveloped it into an inn and hotel which opened in the 1860s as the Macdonald Arms Hotel, Dunalastair. The forefather of today’s Dunalastair Hotel Suites.
Further developments carried out by General Macdonald include Dunalastair House, a two story, Baronial mansion believed to have been built on or near the site of Robertson’s Hermitage. Used as a family house only up to World War 1, it was requisitioned during World War II and used as a school thereafter. Dunalastair House stood vacant since the mid-1950s, and has sadly been in a gradual state of decline ever since. Today, the ruins still stand as an example of the beautiful, Victorian era architecture which still remains such a prominent part of the Kinloch Rannoch landscape.
After standing tall and proud in Kinloch Rannoch for well over 50 years, Macdonald Arms Hotel was bought by new owners in the early 1900s. It was at this point that it became known simply as the Dunalastair Hotel, Loch Rannoch.
The name remained throughout the rest of the 20th century, with the hotel serving as the accommodation of choice for several generations of visitors to the Scottish Highlands.
By the turn of the century, the Dunalastair Hotel had already undergone several changes of ownership, and in 2012, was closed altogether.
This however, was far from the end of the story.
The closure was simply temporary, giving the new – and current – owners, enough time to move in, take stock, and begin work on a huge, multi-million pound refurbishment project which would transform this ancient site into a luxury, boutique hotel in the heart of the Perthshire Highlands.
The hard work on that huge renovation project is now complete, with the new owners adding a touch of contemporary design to one of Scotland’s longest-standing hotels, and a timeless style which is sure to serve the venue well as it continues to stand as a hallmark of the Loch Rannoch landscape for an almost unprecedented third century.
Now, the wait is finally over. Over 200 years since it first began life as a small village inn, the new Dunalastair Hotel Suites is finally set to reopen on May 1st 2017, with bookings now being taken for 2017 and beyond.
Explore the fascinating history of Kinloch Rannoch and the Dunalastair Hotel Suites by booking your stay online today. Alternatively, call to speak to our team now on +44 (0)1882 580444.