Tanja Lister and Sonja Virechauveix, owners and directors at Kylesku Hotel, North West Scotland

Tanja Lister & Sonia Virechauveix

OWNERS & DIRECTORS

French-trained hospitality professional Sonia Virechauveix and business manager Tanja Lister took over Kylesku Hotel in 2009, and together have taken this historic Highland coaching inn to new heights as an award-winning restaurant. Their vision? An informal dining experience where you can enjoy wonderful seasonal food, exceptional ultra-local produce and warm hospitality on the banks of Loch Glendhu.


Tanja Lister, co-owner and co-director at Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland, Scotland

Tanja lived in Paris for two years age at the age of six, giving her an early appreciation of French cuisine. Her grandparents come from the south of Germany, so she also speaks fluent German and knows her wine. After studying psychology and philosophy at Oxford, she had a brief spell with the Metropolitan Police, then joined the graduate training scheme at Waitrose.

She spent 13 years with Waitrose, running branches and ultimately working at head office as a general manager, specializing in store formats, branch management structures and human resources – all skills which have proved useful at Kylesku Hotel. She loves bird watching and wildlife photography, and can often be found out in the wilds with her bins looking for what’s flown in.


Kylesku in three words

Elemental, soulful, addictive.

Favourite place near Kylesku Hotel

Polin Beach. Small, perfect golden sands, turquoise water and chance of seeing seals, otters, divers.

Favourite free-time activity

Seabird-watching in May-July. I love following the extraordinary lives of these birds. They are solitary – out at sea on their own and yet pair for life, meeting up just for a few months of the year to lay a single egg.

Favourite food at Kylesku Hotel

The hand-dived scallops.

Favourite drink at Kylesku Hotel

Spätburgunder Meyer-Näkel – cracking wine, reminds me of my grandparents, who lived in southern Germany.

Favourite season

Autumn. Colours are amazing; sound of the stags rutting.

Insider tip

Make the most of your time here, both at the hotel and in the surrounding area. It’s a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Sonia Virechauveix, co-owner and co-director at Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland, Scotland

Sonia grew up in Brive La Gaillard, near Limoges, in France. She knew she wanted to work in hospitality from the age of six, after a fateful encounter with a dessert trolley. She went on to study hospitality in Brittany, then moved to London in 1996 to work as a restaurant manager for the Café Flo chain of restaurants. She also spent a couple of years working for Waitrose, and her UK years are now longer than her life in France. Sonia is fascinated by anything botanical, and loves pottering in her garden. She regularly goes missing and can be found out foraging for mushrooms and herbs, some of which make their way onto the specials’ menu.


Kylesku in three words
Wild, fun, soulful
Favourite place near Kylesku Hotel

Old Shoremore. Love the beach in winter. Great picking of wild free food!

Favourite free-time activity

Walking the dogs, listening to a podcast, or to the Rolling Stones Walking the Dogs song!

Favourite food at Kylesku Hotel

Spineys – fiddly and buttery treasures only found on the west coast of Scotland.

Favourite drink at Kylesku Hotel

Seedlip spice.

Favourite season

Spring for bluebells and primrose blossoms. Arrival of migratory birds, longer days, no midges.

What’s special for you about Kylesku Hotel?

It’s my “family”.

Insider tip

Buy long trousers with zips so you can shorten them on a walk, as you can get four seasons in a day!


It’s a busy place with a homely feel, but you’re immersed in a landscape barely touched by humans. The place has a way of putting things in perspective.
Tanja

Tanja Lister of Kylesku Hotel, Sutherland
Lobster fishing on Loch Glendhu (just in front of the hotel) with our suppliers Dun Canna Shelfish, aboard Freebird.
Belgian Shepherds in the north west highlands of Scotland
Out with the dogs on the machair.