Dornoch Castle was built around 1500 as the home of the bishops of Caithness. Bishop Robert Stewart gifted the castle to John Gordon, 11th Earl of Sutherland in 1557. In 1570 the castle was set alight in a feud between the McKays and Murrays. The rebuilding which followed included the addition of the upper part of the tower. The castle decayed during the 18th century, but was restored in 1813–1814 to serve as a school and jail. In 1859-60 it became a court house, and was made the headquarters of the Sheriff of Sutherland.

Further alterations were made around 1880, including the heightening of the south-west block, and the addition of a three-storey east tower. Following the restoration the castle became a hunting lodge for visiting sportsmen. In 1947 it became a hotel. The Dornoch Castle Hotel has 24 rooms, including suites, and garden rooms, which were built in the 1970s. In addition, there are several personalized rooms and a restaurant.



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Founded: c. 1500
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom


4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ian L (2 years ago)
We stayed at the Dornoch Castle Hotel as a 'treat' on our way round the NC500. Though a bit on the expensive side our meal in the restaurant was well prepared, presented and excellent quality. The service was very good though the restaurant itself was not based in the castle but a more recent extension to the back which lacked character. Other aspects of our stay were a disappointment too. We booked two of the standard garden rooms and were told the hotel was dog friendly. When we turned up we were not allowed in the bar to register as we had the dogs. We had to access our room via muddy grass which meant we could not help but dirty the carpet. Down the side of the restaurant was a fire door wedged open with a rock which led to our room. These were supposed to have been 'recently refurbished for the 2021 season'. This apparently meant; marked carpets, plaster filled repairs on the wall, a hole and mark on the wall where it looks like a picture had hung, badly fitted and stiff door handles, no shower curtain, broken shower room mirror light, broken and damaged low level shower screen which meant the shower room floor was soaked when showering, and two single mattresses to make up a double bed. There was little sound insulation which meant every door closing could be felt, bathroom fans next door could be heard, and we could hear every movement of the guests above us as well as when they flushed the toilet. At about midnight the fire alarm went off. We evacuated through the fire door down unlit steps into the garden and waited. No staff were on hand at all to manage the situation. Eventually we went back inside when the alarm stopped and found a member of staff at the fire control panel who told us to wait in the garden where we had been. There was no sign of a fire and no one came so we eventually went back to our rooms. The organisation in an emergency was a shambles. We did complain to the manager when checking out who listened, apologised and reduced our bill for the room as a token gesture but even then it was overpriced for what we experienced. On the positive side, the restaurant again was a highlight with and excellent breakfast. However this hotel is not one to recommend except possibly if you are just using the restaurant.
Glenn Spinks (2 years ago)
Great Castle hotel with a roaring fireplace which to enjoy a a dram or two by. The restaurant food was excellent and the all staff friendly and provide superb service. Breakfast was good and plentiful. Room was pleasant, decor perhaps a little tired but it’s a castle after all! Only negative was the room had quite thin walls so was quite noisy - neighbours/kitchen etc.
Sandra Holden (2 years ago)
Lovely meal, comfy bed although room was dated. Lovely bar area with log fire. Also enjoyed the complimentary sherry in the room. Enjoyed breakfast which was table service. Hotel is stunning from the outside but was disappointed that inside wasnt more traditional. Dornoch is a lovely village, so pretty.
Lawrence Barker (2 years ago)
Stayed a night recently. Hotel is in a great location, very scenic. Car parking easy and convenient. Hotel room reflected the price, perfectly comfortable, clean & tidy, but not exceptional in any way. The restaurant, however, is exceptionally good. Food very accomplished, well presented & decent portions. The staff are hard working & the service is very good. Overall this is a place that deserves to succeed & I wish it every success.
Iain Small (2 years ago)
Great overnight stay in the hotel. Very atmospheric, old castle bar, with lovely rooms and friendly staff. Absolutely amazing meal from the restaurant, which wasn't very cheap (compared to other local restaurants), but really worthwhile as the food was original, varied, well presented, and incredibly tasty.
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Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.

In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.

The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.

From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.

As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).

Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.