‘We’ve always been a farm,’ says Tom. ‘We’re really farmers who have diversified. Sourcing our food seasonally and locally is just how we eat – lamb off the hill, venison from the stalkers next door, our own beef, pork, chickens, duck and chook eggs, and organic vegetables and herbs, too, plus wild foraged treats like wood sorrel and chanterelles. And when we need fish, we get it from sustainable Scottish sources.’
Monachyle Mhor hotel and restaurant sits in its own 2,000-acre estate, overlooking Lochs Voil and Doine. The family moved here in 1983, when Tom, Dick and Melanie’s parents bought the hill farm, signing on the back of a cigarette packet to clinch the deal. Rob farmed sheep and cattle, while Jean offered B&B in the farmhouse, and the business and farm evolved from there.
Tractor-loving Dick now runs the farm with his step-son Johnny. His aim is to maintain this stunning estate, and provide the finest food as directly from the land as possible. It’s now stocked with hefted Scottish black-face sheep, Highland Cattle which we have started to cross breed with a Simmental Bull; the pigs are a mix of Tamworth, Landrace and Large Blacks, and our chooks are Rhode Island Reds – happily laying the hotel’s breakfast eggs. We also have bee hives, looked after by our friends at Plan Bee.
The farm informs the laid-back atmosphere in the hotel, too. The old farmhouse may now be a chic bolthole, the stables luxury suites, but ducks still waddle across the cobbled courtyard and escaped sheep occasionally provide the floorshow from the conservatory during dinner. If you don’t bring your own dog (three of the rooms can take pets) farm dwellers labrador Betty and terrier Tinker, Tom and Lisa May’s dogs, are always happy to take guests for a walk.
We also have a fantastic kitchen garden, supplying vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and fruit to the hotel. John Titterington, our talented & passionate gardener, tends to it lovingly.