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The Dipping Lugger in Ullapool offers a Highland experience like no other

The Dipping Lugger, Ullapool.
The Dipping Lugger, Ullapool.

Ullapool may be relatively close to home, but it feels like half a world away.

The visually rewarding scenery alone has a vast part to play in this.

And there’s something about the crisp air that feels as though it’s doing your mind and body a great deal of good.

The harbour town had always been on my “must-visit” list, and even more so following the grand opening of the restaurant with rooms, The Dipping Lugger, last September.

The exterior of The Dipping Lugger.

But it wasn’t until spring this year that I found myself face-to-face with the establishment, which stands majestically overlooking the Loch Broom shores.

I hadn’t experienced anything quite like it from the get-go.

The Dipping Lugger

Ullapool itself was distinctly quiet with few people wandering along the pebbly seafront. The aromas of food from neighbouring independent eateries were in the air.

That aside, my boyfriend and I shifted our attention to The Dipping Lugger’s eye-catching piece of external decor – a brass clam shell secured to the front door. You can’t miss it.

Before we knew it, we were welcomed by front-of-house general manager, Calum Robertson.

From left: Calum Robertson and David Smith, who runs the kitchen.

Could we have been provided with a finer tour of the restaurant and rooms, educated more on the history of the home itself, or assisted any better regarding queries we had?

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

Calum knows all there is to know about The Dipping Lugger. But more importantly, he excels in making guests feel right at home – something I feel is lacking in a lot of places.

My boyfriend and I stayed in the Melville room.

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

The longer we spent inside our room alone, the more we discovered to admire.

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

Soft tartan wool blankets were among the lovely touches in our room.

Not a hair was out of place.

Crisp linen, soft tartan wool blankets, bold wallpaper, a dressing area for pampering, and various artworks could be spotted inside.

The bathroom was of a substantial size, as was the stand-alone roll-top bathtub.

A scurry over to the window revealed breathtaking views over the loch and nearby mountains. It was paradise.

Our bathroom featured a stand-alone roll-top bathtub.

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

The unusual nooks and crannies didn’t stop there.

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

Well-loved Scottish sweets, including all things Tunnocks, could be found inside.

A look inside the Sweet Shop.

Dining in the 18-cover restaurant

Our stay also included dinner and breakfast.

Later on the day of our arrival, we discovered the impressive facilities don’t end at the accommodation.

The Dipping Lugger houses an 18-cover restaurant, situated in what was previously the parish manse, dating back to 1789. It also carries an intimate two-table tasting room.

Inside the 18-cover restaurant.

The dining room is overseen by head chef, David Smith, formerly of Boath House, Nairn, and dinner is served Thursday to Sunday, 7pm for 7.30pm.

We were equally as intrigued as we were excited to sample the seasonal seven-course menu with paired wines.

Joined by four fellow diners, the room was welcoming and comfortable. Our window table allowed us to soak in the views that we oh so loved even more.

Freshly baked bread – referred to as Hay on the menu.

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

After tucking into snacks, the courses – as appeared on the menu – were named Hay, Oyster, Wild Garlic, Scallop, Deer, Crofton and Manjari.

The standouts? Deer and Manjari, the chocolatey dessert.

The menu provided little detail about what exact ingredients were featured in each dish, but this added to the magic of the experience.

We enjoyed paired wines alongside our dinner.

You’re pushed to focus on the textures and flavours coming through. And with so much going on, the pair of us conversed about little other than each course with its accompanying wine.

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

Breakfast came in the form of a three-course menu.

We received apple juice and natural yoghurt with apricot and granola to start, before being met with a selection of cured salmon – the smoked was a triumph, and we later discovered, with the help of Calum, that it was caught in Ullapool waters.

A muffin topped with chorizo and a poached egg.

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

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, I can say this remains the best start to any day I have experienced.

In terms of both dinner and breakfast, we were left more than impressed. And one thing to note is that there was a perfect interval between each course.

Uninterrupted sleeps and some of the highest quality food we’ve had the pleasure of tucking into made for a memorable experience at The Dipping Lugger.

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

I applaud the team and those who brought it to life.

Travel facts

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

Tel: 01854 613344


Room prices start at £430 for Dinner, Bed & Breakfast, based on two people sharing. Rooms are currently open for booking Thursday to Sunday.

Dinner is served Thursday to Sunday, 7 for 7.30pm. £75pp, with optional wine pairing for £50pp.

Lunch is served Friday to Sunday, 12.30 for 1pm. £35pp, with optional wine pairing for £25pp.