The UK’s northernmost city, Inverness, is the capital of the Scottish Highlands. Located at the junction of the River Ness and the Moray Firth, it has long been a transport hub for northern Scotland and now, according to some sources, it is Europe’s fastest growing city.
Once home to a thriving distilling industry, the city’s economy is now driven by the technology, manufacturing, healthcare, education and tourism sectors, while agriculture and fisheries play a key role in the wider Highland economy.
A glut of new meeting venues have opened in recent years, while a series of new projects – among them a new university campus, a 200-acre business park and the addition of an iconic hotel development in the harbour area – will be sure to further diversify the city’s venue portfolio.
Name: Culloden House
Address: Milton Culloden, Inverness, IV2 7BZ
Tel: 01463 790461
Over 250 years ago Culloden House had sufficient ‘wow’ factor for it to become the chosen headquarters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the famous Battle of Culloden. These days it’s available for somewhat less bloody corporate meetings and events, and remains prestigious enough to have made it on to Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s 2010 Gold List. Set in 40 acres of grounds and featuring marble fireplaces, exposed beams and sparkling chandeliers, the House’s meeting facilities range from boardrooms for 12 through to theatre-style set-ups for 70 delegates. There’s also a long list of country sports and activities on offer too.
Name: Urquhart Castle
Address: North and Grampian, IV63 6XJ
Tel: 0131 668 8600
When it comes to impressive settings for meetings and events, Urquhart Castle is hard to beat. Located on a rocky promontory on the banks of Loch Ness, 30 minutes from Inverness city centre, the castle is well equipped to host corporate events despite its apparent state of ruin. An auditorium has capacity for up to 80 guests and there are adjoining meeting rooms for smaller groups. A restaurant can be booked for dinners for up to 75 guests and drinks receptions for up to 150, plus there’s an adjacent terraced area for making the most of the views over majestic Loch Ness.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Name: Kingsmills Hotel
Address: Kingsmills Hotel, Culcabock Road, Inverness, IV2 3LP
Tel: 01463 237166
The city’s four-star Kingsmill Hotel will grow in size and stature this spring with the creation of the Kingsclub, adding 38 rooms, a new bar and restaurant and spa facilities. The hotel was until recently the Inverness Marriott but its return to private ownership has heralded a new era for the property. Its meeting facilities include three rooms ranging in capacity from 20 to 40 guests for dinners or 35 to 60 delegates theatre style, while the significantly larger Burns room can host up to 100. There’s also two syndicate rooms for groups of up to six people. Eight-hour day delegate rates include tea and coffee, two-course buffet lunch, hire of flip chart, screen and LCD projector, use of hotel leisure facilities and car parking. The 24-hour rate features, in addition, a three-course dinner, overnight accommodation, and full Scottish breakfast.
<p">Those looking for meetings space at the budget end of the scale need look no further than Inverness’ Netley Education and Conference Centre at the Highland Hospice organisation. The purpose-built facility is comprised of the Brahan Lecture Theatre – for 20 delegates boardroom style through to 45 in theatre-style – and the Moidart and Duncansby rooms which can be opened into a single larger space for groups of 15 to 25 delegates. Hire rates are from £40 per half day or evening and from £80 per day. There’s free wireless internet access throughout, but equipment rental is from £20 (plus VAT) per item and coffee and biscuits is priced at £1.50 (plus VAT) per person.
Name: Eden Court
Address: Bishops Road, Inverness, IV3 5SA
Tel: 01463 239841
Eden Court is one of the city’s – and the Scottish Highland’s – principal conference and event venues, hosting a series of high profile concerts, shows and events throughout the year. Located on the banks of the River Ness, the venue underwent a £23million redevelopment and refurbishment programme that was completed in 2007 and saw the addition of another theatre, two studios and two cinemas. The building’s main auditorium has capacity for over 850 delegates, while the second theatre can host up to 260. The smaller cinema spaces have seating for 86 and 138 guests and the venue has the latest in audio-visual, lighting and communications technology throughout – plus an inhouse technical team to help out. A 75-seat restaurant and three bars add further options for event managers. The venue occupies a fine site on the banks of the River Ness and has ample adjacent parking.
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED
Name: The Rocpool Reserve
Address: Culduthel Road, Inverness, IV2 4AG
Tel: 01463 240089
The Rocpool Reserve hotel had the honour of being voted Scotland’s best small luxury hotel last year. In its own words, the hotel is “about elegance, not exhibitionism; glow, not glitter; quality, not quantity.” There’s just 11 guestrooms in four categories – Hip, Chic, Decadent and Extra Decadent – plus the highly-regarded Chez Roux gourmet restaurant and ‘r bar’. For small-group meetings, the White Room has capacity for 20 people. Day delegate rates at the city centre hotel are £40 per head (for a minimum of six people) and include coffee breaks and a light lunch; 24-hour delegate rates are £225 per person (for a minimum of four people) and additionally include dinner, breakfast and single occupancy accommodation.