The village of Ullapool has just upped its food destination status with the launch of The Dipping Lugger.
This new restaurant with rooms, named after a type of boat, is owned by Robert Hicks and Helen Chalmers, who are also behind other local ventures, The Highland Liquor Company and The Arch Inn.
It’s housed in what was previously the parish manse, which dates back to 1789. This was partly rebuilt in 1829 by civil engineer Thomas Telford, who designed and built much of the town in the eighteenth century, as a port for the herring fleets.
The couple took it over in 2018 and, through lockdown, have restored and transformed the building into a personality-filled retreat, which features a scallop shell knocker on its red door and idyllic views over Loch Broom and across to the mountains.
Along with a top team that includes general manager Calum Robertson, formerly of The Ubiquitous Chip and Killiecrankie House, they’ve employed chef, David Smith, to create a menu for their 18-cover dining room. Smith’s previous experience at four-star Boath House and Ullinish Country Lodge Hotel has informed a seven-course dinner menu and four-course lunch offering, with a matching wine list available. Dishes on th menu are simply listed as Loch Broom oyster, spiced carrot, langoustine or roe deer, with no other information. This was part of an effort to retain some mystery.
“In this age, everything is out there, and there’s no sense of discovery”, says Mr Hicks. “Menus can be overly descriptive. We want diners to wonder where the menu will take them and just have an inkling of what they might be getting”.
The dishes look magnificent, served on plates by local company Highland Stoneware, and erring on the fine-dining side of eating out.
The venue also offers The Tasting Room - a two table dining room that doubles as a gin sampling room, where guests can sample wares from the couple’s other business, including their Seven Crofts gin. There’s also a first-floor honesty bar, the Sweet Shop, which will include old-school sweeties, the full Tunnock’s range, and “liquid treats” for hotel guests.
Along with the hotel’s public rooms, which boast velvet and leather soft furnishings and parquet floors, their three bedrooms were designed by Eve Cullen-Cornes, who was responsible for The Padstow Townhouse by Paul Ainsworth and Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers.
All have roll-top baths and open fires, but they also variously feature whale patterned wallpaper - a pattern called Melville by Cole & Son - upcycled furniture and Roberts radios. These might offer clues into the house’s previous occupants, as each bedroom is named after those who previously held stewardship of the building. You can stay in Melville - inspired by Robert Melville, who built the house - Telford or MacInnes, which is named for the family who last owned the property.
In a similar vein to the menu, they’re sharing just a few choice pictures. Visit for the full view.