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NC500 hotel’s bid to double in size recommended for approval

Highland councillor and hotelier of the Smoo Cave Hotel, Hugh Morrison.
Highland councillor and hotelier of the Smoo Cave Hotel, Hugh Morrison.

Planners have recommended that one of the country’s most remote hotels can double in size.

The iconic Smoo Cave Hotel at Durness in Sutherland is a popular pit stop on the North Coast 500 route – Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66.

It has been run for the past 16 years by Highland Councillor Hugh Morrison and his wife Frances and is near the famous Smoo Cave, which attracts around 90,000 visitors a year.

The Morrisons are seeking permission for a six room accommodation annex.

In a report to go before Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee on Tuesday, officers are recommending that approval be granted.

There have been no objections.

Contemporary meets tradition

The report gives a vision of “a contemporary take on the traditional longhouse… with the addition of more modern features”.

Council official Gillian Pearson writes: “Overall there are no concerns in terms of the proposed design when assessed against the general policies of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan.”

Approval is being recommended subject to a number of conditions including that prior to the first occupation of the development, nine car parking spaces shall be provided within the application site.

The Morrisons want to attract more visitors to what is mainland Britain’s most north westerly village – which is also near the Cape Wrath military range.

LONG READ: The complex, fearful challenge of re-opening the Highlands to tourism

Mrs Morrison said: “The last season saw us booked out through to November and this year looks equally busy.

“Staycations have increased while the number of B and Bs in Durness have declined because of covid worries and people retiring.

“At the moment we have six bedrooms but the demand is very high.

“We hope that this new development will help cater for the demand and shows our faith in the future of tourism in the area.”

If Highland Council approve the application, it is hoped to have the annex ready for next season.

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