Built in the 17th century, Kings House is believed to be one of Scotland’s oldest licensed inns. The building was used after the Battle of Culloden (1745), as a barracks for troops of George III, hence the name Kings House. It was the task to keep the Highlanders under subjection and to capture their elusive champion Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Its history is colourful and varied. Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in 1803: “Never did I see such a miserable, such wretched place, – long rooms with ranges of beds, no other furniture except benches, or perhaps one or two crazy chairs, the floors far dirtier than an ordinary house could be if it were never washed. With length of time the fire was kindled and after another hour of waiting, supper came, a shoulder of mutton so hard that it was impossible to chew the little flesh that might have been scraped off the bones.”
Over a century later and things had improved. Alexander Wilkie wrote in 1903: “Arriving at Kings House Inn I have a hearty welcome. Tea, my clothes and shoes dried. Next morning after a walk round I go in for breakfast. What shall I have? -grapefruit? What! can I have grapefruit in Kings House; of course I can; and so I have grapefruit, and porridge and cream, and fish, and everything just like a west end city hotel. I tell you I am well looked after and at a charge so moderate that I am almost ashamed of my appetite.”
In spite of its isolation, King’s House, being on the main route between Fort William and Glasgow, received its fair share of passing traffic, such as it was. The drive road from Skye to the ‘Falkirk Tryst’ came down were the Black Water Reservoir is now and crossed over the hill into the King’s House area at Alt Chaliach – two miles up the Black Corries road. At the turn of the century, work began on the Black Water Reservoir, and the King’s House was the last port of call for hundreds of labourers making their way to the dam via the Devils Staircase at Alt-na-Feidh. Many who had imbibed too freely were lost and perished on the hills, while others used to fill the byre and stables only too pleased to get a roof over their heads.
A Mr. Angus Montgomery, who was a stalker in the 1930’s wrote of how his uncle has found the remains of three of the poor souls in the hills. There was a tall fir tree outside the tap room door ( the present public bar ) and I can assure you it saved many a man from taking a header in to the river when the fresh air hit him. The tap was notorious and although those old keepers were a hard lot, I was never allowed to touch drink.
THE KINGS HOUSE HOTEL – TODAY
The old building has been altered considerably over the past century and extended to 22 bedrooms, 12 with bathrooms en-suite and 10 with shared facilities.
There is a drying room and laundry ( with washing machine and tumble drier ) for the use of the residents.
King’s House Hotel is in a very remote situation, with magnificent views of the hills. The owners together with their staff assure you of a warm welcome.
The hotel is an ideal place for the traveller as well as for those interested in walking, climbing, canoeing, skiing, fishing and sight-seeing. The 3,345 ft. Buchaille Etive Mhor and the ski slopes of Meall a Bhuiridh provide a spectacular view from the picture windows of the residents lounge and a number of the south and west facing bedrooms.
Breakfast is served in the dining room and bar meals, made with local produce such as salmon, venison, grouse and pheasant are available all day.
The closeness of the ski slopes makes it an ideal resting place during the Ski season. Walkers and climbers will find the area of interest while rivers are within easy reach for the canoe enthusiast. As a centre for local sightseeing it is unsurpassed with Glen Etive, Glen Orchy and the villages of Glencoe and Ballachulish only ten miles away. The towns of Oban and Fort William can be reached by car or for many, by foot, and are home to many of the transport mechanisms including ferries and trains, which allow you to further your experience of the Scottish Highlands or simply return home.
The keen walker will find us on the West Highland Way and will be made welcome in all weathers.