A luxury Highland hotel has re-opened a popular country pub after 15 years with diners tempted in with the offer of Rib Eye steak 'seconds'.

The Factor's Inn was built as a home for the previous owners of Inverlochy Castle, the five-star hotel in Lochaber that has welcomed Royalty and celebrities including Robert de Niro, Mel Gibson and Daniel Craig.

General Manager David Robertson said the hotel acknowledged that not all guests wanted fine-dining - Michel Roux Jnr oversee the menu - and it wanted to re-introduce a more casual offering to retain more of the guests who opt to travel into Fort William for an evening meal.

The Inn offers a paired back menu with local Rib-Eye steak and frites, Hebridean salmon and a vegetarian option of halloumi platter with seasonal vegetables.

The Herald:

"Factor's Inn was the previous owner's son's house and it was fully refurbished back in 2002 and then it had closed down shortly after that," said the general manager.

"It did re-open eventually on two different occasions but just seasonally. 

"We decided to re-open it fully for two reasons," he added.

The Herald:

"With the dining offering we do at that castle, we understand and appreciate that it is quite restricted.

"There is a five-course tasting menu and some guests may not be willing to have that cost or may not want to have that much of a meal.

The Herald:

"We were losing out, we feel, on a lot of guests going into town, that annoyed us on two different levels.

One because we were losing out on business so we had to get ourselves into the game.

"Yes there is that affiliation with Inverlochy Castle but it's a pub meal. It's not just for guests, non-residents are very welcome to see what we are doing and hopefully enjoy."

With more marbling, ribeye steaks are better known for their rich flavour and texture.

"We weren't looking to get the most expensive cut because we wanted to keep the price down as much as we could. However, it was a no-brainer that we got locally from Lochaber Larder.

The Herald:

"The Rib Eye was a stand-out,  which does come with a higher price (£38) but we think it's a good choice for a better quality of meat and flavour.

He said there were no plans to expand the menu at this point.

"We want it to be achievable for the kitchen team and we want to make sure that what we offer is done to its highest capabilities," he said.

"I dread going into a restaurant and you have pages of menu - you are not telling me that is freshly made every day," he said.

"We are not for buying in and freezing - we want it done fresh."


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If the Highland air leaves diners with a bigger appetite, he said waiters will be happy to offer seconds and seasonal salad and home-made focaccia is complementary.

"We are putting it out there that it is kind of bottomless, so if you do want to have more meat, more fries, bread salad whatever, we are there ready and waiting to take on the request," he said.

"You aren't going to go away hungry, that's for sure."

Mr Robertson joined Inverlochy Castle in 2002 and recently returned to manage the castle after a number of years overseeing other hotels in the ICMI group.

The Herald: Inverlochy Castle has welcomed celebrities including Robert de Niro and Daniel Craig Inverlochy Castle has welcomed celebrities including Robert de Niro and Daniel Craig (Image: ICMI)

He took over from Jane Watson who has run the hotel for more than 43 years and is taking a step back with a supervisory role.

"It was nice to get the opportunity to come back and continue Jane's story," said the general manager.

"I came back in October and it was a bit of a baptism of fire.

"The director has called it a bumper season, so it's very, very positive.

"I think we have lost diners from the castle to Factor's but that's okay. What we did want to achieve is not losing them to going into town so that's a big tick from that aspect."

Inverlochy Castle was originally built as the home of the third Lord Abinger, William Frederick Scarlett, who first visited the Highlands with his father as a boy of 13 and later became part of the railway company that built the world-famous West Highland Line.

Queen Victoria remarked that she "never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot" after her week-long stay in 1873.