History of Kylesku Hotel

Jun 2, 2023

Kylesku Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Scotland. It dates back to at least 1883 and is a former coaching inn and much-loved stopover for generations of Highland travellers.

The iconic Kylesku Bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1984, bringing to an end the era of the famous Kylesku-Kylestrome ferry. Although it had its charms and saved travellers a 100-mile round trip via Lairg, the ferry service was a traffic bottleneck, and the beautiful new bridge much welcomed and admired.

Like many an old hotel, Kylesku Hotel has a colourful history, with famous past visitors including the notorious Red Army Faction members, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. Mysteriously, they appear to have signed the visitors’ book while they were on the run from the German secret service.

Kylesku Hotel in the first half of the 20th century

Kylesku Hotel in the first half of the 20th century. The ferry worked the stretch of water between the hotel and Kylestrome, on the other side of Loch Glendhu.

A car waiting for the Kylesku ferry in 1966

Looking north to Kylestrome: Kylesku Ferry in 1966. The ferry was replaced by Kylesku Bridge, which opened in 1984.

Leafing through our old guest books, many visitors have found friends and relatives dating all the way back to the 1920s and 1930s.The guest books also show visitors during World War II, when X-Craft midget submarines were stationed here for training in Loch Glendhu and Glencoul.

When Kylesku Hotel was taken over by the previous owners in 2009, they set out to fully modernise the hotel, especially as the buildings had seen piecemeal development over the years.

Helen Lucas Architects came up with plans for an integrated layout, retaining the historic original building and extending the complex with thoughtful additions to improve flow, space and practicality. In particular, the renovation makes the most of the panoramic view, with fantastic views across the loch and hills from almost anywhere in the bar and restaurant.

A list of names in a guest book
A page in our register from the 1970s appears to show the signatures of Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof.
Building works being done on Kylesku Hotel
Building works underway in the winter of 2014/15.

In addition, the beautiful wooden walkway was added, linking the hotel to Willie’s Hoose and created a timber deck for outdoor seating – a wonderful connection to the landscape.

Willie’s Hoose annex was opened in 2015, providing extra hotel rooms with loch-facing views. The building was officially opened by Willie Elliott on 1st April and is named after him.

Born and bred at the end of the loch, Willie and his family were some of the very few people who have lived their whole lives in Kylesku and have seen the most dramatic changes to the area that came with 20th century. For many years, Willie would entertain the guests with his many colourful stories, providing a rich history of the area. Sadly, Willie passed away in 2018 but his memory lives on through the hotel.

The outside of Kylesku Hotel after the extension was completed
The hotel transformed after modernisation and extension by Helen Lucas Architects.
The refurbished and extended restaurant and bar at Kylesku Hotel
The refurbished and extended restaurant and bar are full of light and loch views.

This unique building and its spectacular setting still bring us challenges, including frustratingly slow broadband and occasional noisy pipes. But we love its quirks and spirit and are delighted to become part of this independent Scottish hotel’s history.

While the history of Kylesku Hotel is fascinating to read about, it’s even better when you get to feel it in person! So, why not book your stay with us today and embark on an unforgettable Highland adventure!

Willie's Hoose, the annex at Kylesku Hotel
Willie’s Hoose, our annex, opened in 2015.
Kylesku resident Willie Elliott opens the building named after him
Kylesku resident Willie Elliott opens the building named after him – Willie’s Hoose.
Share This