Behind the Door | 19th October 2023
Behind the Door: Living remote yet staying connected with Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow, owners of The Torridon
We talk about life at the UK's most northerly five-star hotel
Tucked away at the foot of the Torridon peaks, The Torridon's 58-acre parkland estate is full of Scottish character.
As the most northerly five-star hotel in the UK, living here can feel remote - we chat to owners Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow about what life is like in Torridon, and how they stay connected.
Prior to running an independent hotel, you had careers in the corporate world, what made you take the leap?
We met at university in Leeds and then moved to London. I became a Bond trader in the City and Rohaise started a career as a corporate event organiser. We married in 1998 and had many conversations about where to live, what future we wanted and then kids meant a re-evaluation. Rohaise’s parents wanted to retire and were looking for manager. In February 1998 we were at an event in Torridon and sat down late at night and looked at where we were. Rohaise said she did not want to work in hotels having watched her parents do it for years, and I confirmed I did not want to live in Torridon coming from London. By March 1999 we had moved to Torridon to learn how to run The Torridon. We were both driven by the opportunity to run our own business and by the opportunity to create incredible memories for people in a such a special place.
The Torridon is quite a special place, how do you want guests to feel when they stay with you in the highlands?
At The Torridon we believe that focusing on exceptional levels of service which is friendly and faultless allows us to offer great hospitality. We inspire the team to create memorable experiences for our guests, with service from passionate and creative people that allows the guest to feel looked after in a very personable and independent way. As a destination resort, we provide the perfect opportunity to go off grid from daily life and to rest and reinvigorate their lives. An adventurous day in the hills or on the loch, followed by a chilled afternoon relaxing with your boots kicked off and your feet up on the sofa, finished with a superb dining experience of local produce, means the guest will have full immersed themselves in Torridon.
Guests come to disconnect and switch off from busy lives, but as resident owners how do you stay connected to the outside world?
We have worked hard at staying connected to our industry and this has meant committing to travel all around the country. While some London hoteliers baulk at the idea of crossing south of the Thames, we think nothing of flying to London on the redeye and then last flight back to Inverness on the same day. Our success would not have been possible without the networking and understanding of what others are doing. The opportunity to benchmark has always been top of our list to make sure that we are not missing out any opportunities that benefit the business. Through our ‘extra’ work commitments with PoB Hotels or Master Innholders over the years, we have stayed up to date the industry trends, design, and changes. To put it into perspective we have to travel two hours round trip to the nearest supermarket… Going to London might only be another couple of hours!
How does remote life vary through the seasons?
The changing seasons are magnificent. Working here for us it does not make a difference, and even when we close in January every year, Rohaise and I are at their most busy with refurbishment and planning for the year ahead. The daylight in the summer can last for 20 hours and the skies might not even get very dark. In the winter, the contrast means that while it can be dark from 3pm to 10am, the skies are so dark that stargazing is easily done and can be amazing.
What is your favourite thing about The Torridon’s unique setting?
Considered to embody the North Highland landscape of Scotland, Torridon is an ancient and enchanting wilderness of water and rock. The rugged mountains, many of which are Munros over 3000ft, are incredibly old and the bulk of which are made up of Torridonian sandstone that dates back 750 million years. Where the mountains rise from the sea is a place like no other.
Can you describe the guests’ journey to arrive at The Torridon? Do you find many guests are travelling through Scotland following, for example, the NC500?
We get a good mix. Some guests will fly into Inverness and be collected by our local guide Donald Macdonald, while some will be travelling on by road from elsewhere in Scotland, perhaps having been driving the North Coast 500! The drive from Inverness is particularly enjoyable, passing some of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes including the famous Glen Docherty where you can enjoy views across Loch Maree and the West coast on fine days.
For a guest visiting you for the first time, what are 3 things they must do during their stay?
Escape really is different for every guest, so my suggestion would be to relax and enjoy the resort! For me, the 3 must do things during a stay would be Fly Fishing, Whisky Tasting and Stargazing. Rohaise would say that she’d prefer to enjoy Afternoon Tea, visit the Kitchen Garden and Kayak on Loch Torridon.