“Among the heathy hills and ragged woods
The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods;
Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds,
Where, thro’ a shapeless breach, his stream resounds.
As high in air the bursting torrents flow,
As deep recoiling surges foam below,
Prone down the rock the whitening sheet descends,
And viewles Echo’s ear, astonished, rends.
Dim-seen, through rising mists and ceaseless show’rs,
The hoary cavern, wide surrounding lours:
Still thro’ the gap the struggling river toils,
And still, below, the horrid cauldron boils-“
Robert Burns writes about the Falls of Foyers, 1787
Nestled against the southeast shores of Loch Ness, Scotland, is a small village called Foyers known primarily for its waterfall. Outside of that small village is quite possibly one of the most idyllic, thoughtfully and tastefully renovated guest houses you’ll find anywhere: Foyers Lodge.
This one has a special place in my heart. I’ll admit it’s taken me three stays since 2018 to attempt the right words to capture the essence of Foyers Lodge, and the magic that owners Anna and Phil have somehow breathed into the place, room by room during their self-renovation that began in 2016. And I often think how luck (or fate, if you want to get poetic) intervened when I was scouring Airbnb for what seemed like the 1000th time for a unique one-night stay while we drove point A to point B, and came across Foyers Lodge. And then, at the last minute, I decided we should change our plans and stay two nights instead.
I should mention, before we dive in, that booking direct is now the way to go.
Above: Inn at Foyers, 1860’s (image courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery)
Since the mid-1600s, an inn of some sort has been present on the property. Centuries ago, it was used mostly by cattle drovers. The building was extended in 1863 and was formally known as “The Foyers Hotel” which you can still see as you cross over the threshold.
There are some places where you can feel the residual energy of its history. But, oftentimes, the more renovation that’s done to a place, the more it depletes this energy. Interiors can become unimaginative, predictable, and too contemporary for the history and architecture of the building. This isn’t the case here. Every time we go back, Anna and Phil have brought more and more dignity into the building, modernizing it for luxury comfort and stripping away years of outdated decor choices.
Foyers Lodge feels uniquely Scottish, but not contrived or cheesy. It’s rich and lush, with hints of the various decades the building has seen along the way. The mix of Victorian with Art Deco in the drawing room simply works, and the new and the vintage meld together throughout to feel like every bit of the beloved home it is.
The bed and breakfast has 8 guest rooms available, all with ensuite bathrooms and two with roll top tubs, as well as a lavish separate self-catering apartment.
We were meant to experience the self-catering apartment Feb 2021, and take updated images of the new bedrooms and other improvements, but at the time of me writing this, COVID-19 still reigns over much of the globe, and we were forced to cancel our trip until travel is allowed to Scotland again. So, this blog will be updated then.
Back in 2018 during our first stay (if I remember right, we were the only guests in the building one night), we somehow managed to convince Anna and Phil to give us a tour of the areas that weren’t renovated yet.
They invited us into what would become the sitting room pictured below. At that time, it was closed off to guests, waiting for the next stage of renovations. We sat on red sofas that came with the house when Anna and Phil purchased it. As we drank a glass of whatever it was, I was preoccupied by envisioning what it would be once Anna got her hands on decorating the room. They also showed us where an old pub had been, and talked about having a grand drawing room and a separate apartment. Anna had acquired a beautiful piano that was hiding underneath a blanket, waiting for the day it could be showcased in all its glory. I was hooked. I had to come back and see the finished work.
Low and behold, within less than two years since that private little tour: they’ve done it. The sitting room and room 5 were finished by our second trip in May 2019, and the drawing room and room 6 were revealed on our January 2020 trip (and, with a full house). Phil and his loyal builder Barry, who had become a staple to us as repeat guests by that time and felt like a friend, were working steadily on the self-catering apartment and nearing completion on it, to be available by March 2020.
Well, you know what had happened by then.
Our plans to return in the summer of 2020 were cancelled, then fall, and then winter 2021. But what Anna and Phil continue to achieve, even during a global pandemic and several government lockdowns, shows you their tenacity and love for the place.
And it’s paid off: guests flocked to Foyers Lodge the first chance they could during the summer and fall 2020 re-opening before the winter lockdown shuttered all of Scotland once again. And no doubt, the place will flourish again once travel to Scotland is safe again.
But all that renovation inspiration aside, one can know nothing about all of this and still fall in love the moment they step into Foyers Lodge. The building wraps itself around you with the enthusiasm and comfort of a long lost relative welcoming you home. Scotland is known for its friendly hospitality and spirit, and Foyers Lodge is the epitome.
And beyond its walls, the mystery and beauty of the famous Loch Ness does not disappoint in its ability to coax you back again and again, any time of year (Fall being my personal favorite).
A few area notes:
Foyers Lodge is on the less-traveled side of Loch Ness. It’s a single-lane road with passing places. For those of you unfamiliar with single-track rules: if the passing place is to your right, stop where you’re at and let the other car veer to their left to use the passing place to pass by. If the passing place is to your left, then you veer left to pass the other on-coming car. This may require you to back up, too, in order to use the passing places correctly. Don’t drive off the pavement, in other words. Locals drive fast and expect you to react just as quickly, so be ready.
Foyers has great local cafes and pubs. I highly recommend the Waterfall Cafe. It’s just a few minutes down the road from Foyers Lodge and across the road from the trailhead to the Falls of Foyer (2 min drive, 18 min walk). The Waterfall Cafe is beautiful, quaint, and a non-intimidating atmosphere with delicious feel-good food. The chefs at the cafe are also Foyers Lodge’s go-to for their Saturday evening dinners at the lodge (which will happen again after COVID buggers off).
We also enjoy taking an evening walk down to the pub at the Craigdarroch Inn for some pub food and drinks (2 min drive, 13 min walk).
A bit further drive, and still convenient, are Dores Inn to the north (20 min drive), and Whitebridge to the south (10 min drive).
Foyers is convenient to Inverness and anything you might need (35 mins to city centre). But, Drumnadrochit is a great hub for that Loch Ness vibe and local shops (it’s about a 45 min drive around the loch). There’s great restaurants (Fiddlers!) and also the fun Loch Ness Centre that’s worth visiting (if you’re reading this during COVID, obviously some of these places may not be open or have limited services). Urquhart Castle is also a must see.
More in the area: a drive south from Foyers will put you in Fort Augustus (26 min drive). And if you keep going, you can also take a nice little day trip through Fort William (a great view of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak) and then into iconic Glencoe and Glen Etive. We love driving to Glen Etive from Foyers, and it usually takes about 1hr 40 mins, or a bit more if we stop to take photos.
Another great day trip is going to the Glen Affric area via Beauly (1hr 36 mins). Beauly Priory, as Google tells you, is the ruin of an ancient 1230 church & graveyard founded by a little-known order of monks. So, there’s that. Glen Affric has loads of highland nature to explore. We especially love Plodda Falls (1hr 15 mins straight from Foyers Lodge via the south). Along the way is The Tomich Hotel, where we’ve stopped for food and they had great staff. Along the road to the falls, you may even sneak a peak at the ruins of Guisachan House. You’re going to want to research this area more if you’re a golden retriever fan, fun fact.
Of course, the options aren’t limited to those routes. Anywhere you can throw a stone has something worth looking at, even if you just take a walk down the road to the Boleskine Cemetery. And, if that name sounds familiar to you, well, you already might gather the Boleskine history in the area. If you don’t, you can google it.
But honestly, when we go to Foyers Lodge, we typically park ourselves in one cosy nook after the next, drinking local gin and whisky, relaxing, and enjoying the lodge. It’s a destination in itself. One could watch the ever-changing weather across Loch Ness and always wonder what’s next. There’s also plenty of walks right out the door; ask Anna for some suggestions.
I’ll leave it at that for now. We hope to be back at Foyers Lodge as soon as it’s safe again, and I can’t wait to update you all with more images and stories. Thank you, Anna and Phil, for opening your home to the world to enjoy.
Tons of images below showcasing Foyers Lodge and the area Fall 2018-Jan 2020 from my own photos.
Also testimonials from my lovely followers who stayed there.
And at the end: before and after images!
If you’d like to see images of the self-catering apartments, recent dining room changes since COVID, before and afters, and other updates, visit Foyers Lodge’s website and instagram:
This blog is not sponsored and is not a paid ad. Book directly at https://www.foyerslodge.co.uk.
And some lovely testimonial comments via my instagram.
Lastly. I am a sucker for before and afters. So, feast your eyes on a few examples of the way Foyers Lodge looked when Anna and Phil bought it, and how they’ve turned it into their own vision (you can click on each image if it’s cropped in the thumbnail).
*After images are my own. Before images are either courtesy of Foyers Lodge, or by Aaron Moorhead via Flickr, who is credited on each photo.