BACK in the day, long, long ago, when we went camping, we would pitch a tent, unroll our sleeping bags, fire up the primus stove, cremate some sausages and add a dollop of lukewarm beans. At night, we would sleep fitfully or soundly depending on ambient temperature and volume of alcohol consumed. The following day, rise, rinse and repeat. I only tried it the once, and it was an aeon ago. But it's safe to say I wasn't much of a fan.

Then came the advent of glamping – literally, "glamorous camping". Suddenly it was possible to enjoy the beauty of nature without enduring the privations. Actual beds and plumbing. Call me a softie, but that's the life for me.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Mrs A and I began opting for self-catering holidays. Electric cooker, grill, toaster, microwave, proper crockery and utensils, a fridge and a corkscrew. What more could we want?

Well, now we have been spoiled. We have discovered the upgrade to self-catering. Self-glatering, if you will.

We recently spent a couple of days at Black Sheep Hotels' Whispering Pine Lodge on the shores of Loch Lochy in Lochaber. Step into one of their cabins – they have six (and 25 rooms) and you have the trappings of a luxury hotel, plus all the kitchen comforts of home. Ours had three en suite bedrooms, two with king-size beds, one with twin beds. There was also a balcony with a superb lochside view.

The lounge had ceramic hob, fan oven, toaster, microwave, dishwasher, plush sofa and armchairs, large flat screen TV, and – nice touch – an extensive selection of board games. Just the thing for a family stuck indoors on a rainy day.

On this occasion, it was just Mrs A and me, and the weather was fine, so we were able to get out and about once we'd unpacked. We didn't have to go far to begin with; the hotel has its own lochside beach. OK, it's stony, so no point in packing bucket and spade, but there are several picnic tables dotted around, and a few kayakers were taking to the water on our first day there. We even spotted a couple of hardy souls taking a dip. Wild, as they say.

Back indoors, hotel manager Puneet Asawa had plenty of suggestions for things to do. He had been in the post for three months, having been headhunted after 10 years working for Black Sheep's Mumbai-based parent group, and he clearly loves his new home patch. And why wouldn't he? Ben Nevis is 15 minutes away, Mallaig an hour's drive, where the thought of taking the Jacobite steam train to Fort William was appealing, although difficult to arrange at short notice – booking is essential these days.

Mrs A opted for a relaxing Swedish massage at the hotel spa, whilst yours truly enjoyed an equally soothing pint of the local IPA (Glean Spean Highbridge) before we decided to check out the Whispering Pine's restaurant; when you're feeling that laid-back, self-catering can wait.

The menu paid tribute to the hotel's Scots/Indian heritage, with starters ranging from steamed mussels to paneer tikka, and haggis, neeps and tatties, stovies, dal makhani and chicken Amritsari listed among the mains. I got into the spirit of things with Cullen skink followed by Hyderabadi lamb shank. The soup was creamy but perhaps not as full-bodied as it could be; the lamb, however, was meltingly soft and served in a rich, deep sauce with just the right amount of heat. Mrs A's cod tikka starter received a rave review; her chicken Amritsari was tender with subtle spicing.

It's a mix I might even think of trying at home; why not lentil soup followed by tikka masala?

Next day, a trip to Ben Nevis was tempting; four hours up, three hours down. Perhaps explore a bit of Fort William, too?

For those who don't know, there are two main routes up the mountain: a tourist track used by most walkers, or the Carn Mor Dearg Arête route, a more challenging climb for more experienced hikers – which we are not.

In the end, we decided to leave the mountain for another day and opted for a short trip to Fort Augustus, on the southern tip of Loch Ness, passing the famous Roy Bridge Commando Memorial on the way. We also made a quick detour to Spean Bridge, where the ubiquitous Woollen Mill was mercifully free of the huge coach parties that blight many others of that ilk. And just like sofa warehouses, I don't think I've ever been in one that didn't have a sale on. Hey, this is Scotland – you can never have too many fleeces.

Fort Augustus may not be the most glamorous name on the roster of Highland villages, but it deserves a more starry reputation. It boats superb views down Loch Ness – it's right on the southern tip – and is an ideal base for some lovely strolls. It lies on the Caledonian Canal halfway between Fort William and Inverness; the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre offers a fascinating insight into its history. There is good sport to be had watching boats negotiate the six locks here.

Speaking of boats, you can take a Loch Ness cruise from Fort Augustus. At £18 per adult with a knowledgeable and entertaining tour guide, it's a great way to while away a relaxing hour or two while revelling in the beauty and heritage of this part of the world.

We headed back to the Whispering Pine, and the beauty of Loch Lochy. It may not have a monster, but it has a charm all of its own. The fact that it has a luxury cabin right alongside – complete with a fridge – definitely helps. Now, time to break out the chilled Prosecco and contemplate the end of cremated sausages and lukewarm beans.

Whispering Pine Lodge, Loch Lochy, Spean Bridge PH34 4DZ. Rooms at the time of writing start at £150 per night, cabins from £350 per night, depending on season and availability. or phone +44 1397 713966, email