Iconic Highlands hotel announces it is set to walk away from Michelin awards

A luxury country house hotel in the Highlands is the latest restaurant to announce that it could be turning its back on the Michelin Guide.

Published 28th Sep 2017
Updated 31 st Oct 2023

Boath House, which is located close to the cities of Inverness and Elgin, on Scotland's north-east coast, has four rosettes from the AA and one Michelin star but the family behind the business have announced they could follow in the footsteps of French chef Sebastien Bras in changing the way it interacts with the globally renowned awards.

• Read more: French chef asks to be stripped of three Michelin stars

Husband and wife team Don and Wendy Matheson, along with son Sam and head chef Charlie Lockey, who run the business have decided to completely overhaul their brand and experience to reflect what they believe today’s clientele is really looking for.

"We believe that the expectations from Michelin are at odds with achievable profit margins and put an enormous stress on a small family run business like ours."

Boath House

Head chef Charlie Lockey. Picture: contributed

The decision comes ahead of the hotly anticipated announcement of those fine dining institutions to make it into the 2018 Michelin Guide, due to be announced 2nd October.

Wendy Matheson explained: “Whilst we are extremely proud of the Michelin star we gained ten years ago and it undoubtedly enhanced our reputation, our restaurant has consistently made a loss.

"We believe that the expectations from Michelin are at odds with achievable profit margins and put an enormous stress on a small family run business like ours.

"The feedback we are hearing time and time again from our customers is that they want an experience that is more informal and relaxed and this extends to the restaurant, the food and even how it is served.”

The Boath House team have now said they are planning major changes across their whole operation.

Moving away from the fine dining approach of the past, the changes, which have already begun in the main dining room which now offers more approachable, better value options on its menu, will see a new café open in 2018 in the historic walled garden in the grounds of the picturesque Regency house.

With a casual and rustic aesthetic, the café will offer a selection of simply made but good quality food cooked in a wood fired oven, showcasing local, garden to plate dishes.

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A major refurbishment of the rooms at Boath House is already well underway and will be completed this winter.

Wendy Matheson added: “The aim is to provide a warm, comfortable touch of contemporary luxury combined with homely charm.

"Using local artisanal suppliers, the interiors of this design led restaurant with rooms intends to deliver a Highland experience without undue formality.

"We are confident that this is where the accommodation and dining market is going and that we will have a more sustainable product. It will be interesting to see whether this will be reflected in subsequent reviews of our restaurant with rooms by industry bodies in the hospitality sector.”

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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