We seem to have a penchant for visiting haunted hotels. This haunted hotel, the Ackergill Tower, is tucked away in the Scottish Highlands and has a history as spectacular as the land it’s built on. With its magnificent castle walls perched on the edge of a tempestuous coastline, Ackergill Tower serves as the perfect backdrop for a family fued between two of Scotland’s most significant clans.
Dating back to 1538, Ackergill Tower was a stronghold of the Clan Keith. But not for long. In 1547, the Sinclairs of Girnigoe successfully besieged the castle. Over the next century, the castle would change hands between the two fueding clans. At one point, Mary of Guise, Regent of Scotland and mother to Mary, Queen of Scots, intervened but to no avail. It wasn’t until 1676 when the castle finally passed out the hands of the Clan Keith to John Campbell, 2nd Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, as a payment of their debts owed to him. Campbell then sold the castle to the Dunbars of Hempriggs, where it remained in their hands until the 1980s when it was sold and renovated into a 5-star hotel.
With such a tumultuous history, Ackergill Tower would not be complete without a ghost story. The castle is said to be haunted by Helen Gunn, the ‘Beauty of Braemore’. On her wedding night, she was was abducted by Dugald Keith. Rather than submit to her captor, Helen Gunn either jumped or fell from the tower trying to escape. Her restless spirit, dressed in a green or red ball gown, is said to haunt the tower.
This rumored ghost story didn’t deter me from indulging in my inner princess. We booked 2 nights but made sure to avoid the tower room, which can be reserved for those with braver hearts than I.
View from the top of the tower. In the top left area of the photo, a tiny speck on the edge of the coastline is the Castle Sinclair Girnigoe. The Clan Keith enemy is within sight.
We stayed in the Princess Royal Suite, named after the above Royal Navy battlecruiser that saw much action (she was even moderately damaged during the Battle of Jutland –more about that in an upcoming post).
The Princess Royal boasts the best view in the castle and the only one that actually juts out over the ocean.
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe can be seen in the distance as a tiny speck.
Ackergill Tower Overview
- Address: Ackergill Tower, Ackergill, Wick KW1 4RG, UK
- Website amazingvenues.co.uk/venue/ackergill-tower/
- Cost: Executive Suites + full Scottish breakfast starting at $230/night