What does the Highlands capital’s newest AC by Marriott hotel look like?

The breakfast buffet in the lounge.

Since Friar’s Bridge is on my commute to and from home almost daily, I was quite curious about the building that has been slowly shooting up next to the river over the past year.

Curiosity grew as the bar’s neon lights began to show off the tranquil backdrop of the River Ness after dark.

Add to that the promise of tapas and a focus on cocktails. So expectations and curiosity were high when I entered the new AC by Marriott on Glebe Street, not for the first time but for the first time as a guest.

The bar of the new AC by Marriott.  Photo by: JF Wiens.
The bar of the new AC by Marriott. Photo by: JF Wiens.


First to highlight the location and how the building is nestled in a corner between the bridge and the streets leading into the town centre: architects have done an excellent job of shielding the main entrance from the busy A82.

One cannot help but appreciate the attention to detail when entering: a small hairy cow next to the reception, small details in the decor and a neat and clean design for the rest of the interior, which serves as a lounge, tapas restaurant, café, breakfast area and work space for anyone who needs a comfortable place to write away from home. With a variety of illustrated books and newspapers scattered around the tables, it feels like a great place for ideas and inspiration.

Bright and airy during the day, the lounge changes to warmer and softer lights at night, making for a beautiful nighttime view of the river. There is a lovely terrace just outside which will serve guests well in the warmer months.

The bar and dining area.
The bar and dining area.

With 60 seats in the all-day dining restaurant, there is good space between tables, some of which are fitted with chargers – very practical for both those who want to work here during the day and tourists who have been away for the day and that need to charge a smartphone at the last minute.

The atmosphere is very soft, and during dinner with a soft volume of music in the background and dim lighting makes it a very relaxing experience. A place that feels great for long after-dinner conversations that lead to intriguing business ideas or the script of a new play. A great setting to try some of the cocktails on the menu.

Our choice fell on mint and smoke: a classic mojito and a smoky Manhattan did not disappoint, a good balance of flavors and alcohol content – you can feel it in the background, but it mixes with other ingredients.

The hotel’s menu has a curated selection of tapas and main dishes that combine the Scottish tradition (haggis, fish and chips) with more European flavours, a short but quite extensive selection that falls between comfort food and fine dining.

My favorite bite of the night is the crispy and salty potatos: definitely a comfort food, but with a good amount of flavors and textures. The baba ghanoush was nice and creamy and served with some delicious warm flatbread slices.

The haggis&tatties bonbons tasted good although they lacked a bit of the typical haggis spiciness, flavors were more towards a nice potato croquette, but still very tasty.

For the record, we also tried one of the mains, and the fish and chips – both – had a good crunch (albeit a little too salty). Thumbs up for the tartar sauce which seemed freshly made and added a wonderful freshness to the dish.

One aspect I think needs some work on is desserts: the options were cranachan, cheesecake, macarons and cheese platter and therefore lacked a hot or non-fruity dessert. A bit of a missed opportunity when we think of all the delicious options on the European dessert menus, but we’ll see if there are any new additions in the future. Sweet lovers, however, can get a fill at breakfast: the selection is quite wide, from British staples to continental, and the pastry section is well stocked.

There is a rather drastic separation between the atmosphere of the living room and the corridors leading to the bedrooms, which are 191 in all. It actually feels a bit like a maze once you’re in the hallways, but once we’re inside everything feels pleasantly quiet.

Before entering the lift, a nice standard hand out sachets of lavander to put under the pillow to help you have a better night’s sleep (which, along with the raw honey list at breakfast and the books scattered around the lounge, is one of the small but beautiful highlights of the night).

Viewfinder - AC by Marriott, Glebe Street, Inverness.
Viewfinder – AC by Marriott, Glebe Street, Inverness.

The rooms usually come with a king size bed (apart from twins) and a nice wide screen TV. The design and spaces are minimal but cosy, clean and functional. A place where you can relax and linger for a while, but which is not intended for a long stay.

Despite being right next to Friar’s Bridge the night was quiet and peaceful, the dark curtains did their job well (just a minor disturbance from the smoke detector’s flashing light if you’re very sensitive to lights in the room).

The beds are extremely comfortable, with plenty of pillow support (which was especially appreciated by someone who likes to read at night and had a bad cough that night) – it was hard not to fall asleep right away.

A good sized walk-in shower was fitted with fresh and citrusy toiletries from dispensers, for good measures to avoid single use plastic bottles.

We left after breakfast to go to the Eden Court Christmas markets fresh from a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast.

I can see how this new hotel will easily become popular among tourists (for the quality of stay, price and location) as well as a place where locals go for a coffee and just in a really relaxing and charming space can sit.

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