The historic Kings House Hotel, situated in Glen Coe and in existence for over 250 years, has recently undergone substantial renovations. The first buildings on the current site were built in the 17th century. The hotel itself dates from c.1750 in the aftermath of the Jacobite Uprising when it was used as accommodation for government troops as well as for travellers in the area.
After the defeat of the Jacobite forces at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 there arose a general anti-Scottish, and more particular anti-Highland, feeling among the establishment in London. They were deemed both uncivilised and disloyal subjects and government officials felt it necessary to try and ‘civilise’ the population.
Traditional Highland dress was banned, as was the carrying of arms and even bagpipes. An increased military presence was also evident as the government embarked on violently pacifying the Highlands. The use of the hotel as a barracks for government troops resulted in it becoming known as the King’s House, a place where the King’s men could be accommodated.
Travellers to the Highlands used the hotel as a stopping-off point on their journey and Dorothy Wordsworth, the sister of the poet William Wordsworth, stayed there in 1803. She, however, wrote quite disparagingly about her visit: 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.
Located in a remote location in Glen Coe, the Kings House Hotel has more recently been associated with providing accommodation for hill-walkers and those travelling along the West Highland Way. Indeed, it is the only place providing accommodation between Inveroran and Kinlochleven and is therefore extremely popular. The hotel sits in the shadow of Buachaille Etive Mor (the Great Herdsman), a mountain at the head of Glen Etive. Glen Coe itself is a majestic location and there is little to beat it for beautiful mountain scenery.
Today a transformation has taken place at the hotel and a new wing has increased the number of bedrooms available. An extension to the hotel which was added in the 1960s has also been demolished. Objections to these proposals were received from the conservation charity the John Muir Trust, the National Trust for Scotland and others. For example, Mountaineering Scotland, who represent the interests of those who get involved in outdoor pursuits, referred to the new extension as “industrial” and claimed it was not sympathetic either to its surroundings or to the existing historic hotel building.
The hotel is not currently a listed building, although it was listed in 1963. By the mid-1980s it had been removed from the list. The hotel has now been reopened after refurbishment.