When you step through the front doors of Kinloch, you are walking into Isabella Macdonald’s childhood home. “There used to be a door from where the bar is now into our family sitting room.” Guests would often wander in, where they might have been greeted by Isabella or one of her three siblings if her parents, Godfrey and Claire, were busy seeing to other guests. “Once, my sister Merial took a booking at age 4. She got everything right. Apart from the date!”
After years working in Edinburgh and London, she found that the pull back home to Skye was too great to ignore and returned, taking over the day-to-day running of the hotel from her parents. The history of Kinloch and that of the Macdonald family is intertwined, something Isabella is very grateful for: she can chart her family history back to the 9th century. The hotel is full of “family memorabilia” that tell the stories of clan members past, like Isabella’s favourite, Sir James Macdonald, whose portrait hangs on the dining room wall. “In the drawing room, you’ll find a lock of his hair. His life was incredible. When he died in Rome at just 25, they reported that he was fluent in seven languages, but no one in Europe could identify the seventh: it was Gaelic.”
The family spirit remains strong at Kinloch – you might spy Isabella’s parents enjoying a bowl of fresh mussels al fresco on warm day, or her sons working at the hotel on their school holidays. “I love sharing Kinloch with others. It is truly such a special place, and I have so much pride: in our uniqueness, the sense of belonging we create, our history and the warmth of our team.”
Favourite Skye Spot: "Wild swimming from “Pirate’s Cove,” which is what my children call the beach in front of the hotel."
Top Tip: "Read mum’s cookbooks, especially Seasonal Cooking. They’re all my favourites, but the awareness of the seasons, which was always mum’s ethos, is what we’re continuing to evolve with Jordan in the kitchen. What’s amazing is how many producers we have on the island now. Mum will reminisce about how excited she was to get a tin of tomatoes delivered every other week!"