Peter Harrison of Pool House has recently been awarded the "Premier People" Award for 2015 at the Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards ceremony. His laudation has been held by Renata Parolari Fernandez, founder & director of the Five Star Magazine. The "Fellowship for Contribution to the Industry" recognizes his 63 years in hospitality, an accolade which few gain and which reflects his enormous experience in tourism.
From his first job as a waiter with British Transport Hotels at the age of 14, Peter has worked in hotels in London, Manchester, Paris and Scotland. In his career he built up expertise in many areas, from cooking to event-management, from concierge to inventor of cocktails, and he formed close friendships with many people, including celebrities, who stayed in the hotels and who relied on him as a source of information and advice.
In 1991, Peter and his wife, Margaret (whose career was also in hotels), decided to make a major change in their lifestyle and, together with their daughters, Liz and Mhairi, they bought Pool House in the remote North West Highlands of Scotland. In theory, they were to retire to a relaxed life, but in fact they have spent their time transforming an unloved house into one of the best hotels in Scotland.
Pool House in Poolewe was the home of Osgood Mackenzie, founder, in the 19th century, of the beautiful Inverewe Garden, which owes its luxuriant growth to the mild Gulf Stream sweeping up Scotland’s west coast. In the 1950s Pool House became a hotel, but over time the original period features of the house were removed and the rooms were furnished with budget modern furniture rather than antiques sympathetic to the building's age.
Peter and his family embarked on a lengthy restoration project and now, almost twenty-five years later, it is one of the best hotels in the country. With complete dedication they have hunted down materials dating from the 19th century, including beautiful doors and pitch-pine panelling such as would have been used in Highland homes. It took ten years before they found the front door, for example, in the right size in the right wood! Not only that, but they have shown imagination and created suites with particular themes. The most recent has antiques gathered from the Far East to create the Oriental-styled Ashanti suite which is eclectic, exotic and utterly enchanting.
A garden has also been created from what was a tarmac car-park; now apples, pears, soft fruits, damsons and a range of vegetables are grown here, thanks to the imagination and hard work of Liz and Mhairi.
You can stay in Pool House and enjoy the outcome of Peter and Margaret's sixty years of experience and the total dedication of all the family. Superb surroundings, beautiful outlook across the bay, a soft micro-climate in the garden, top-class food.
And perhaps a chat with Peter after dinner, when he tells you stories about his career – such as when the police stopped him and Margaret en route to a wedding, thinking that he was involved in one of the biggest train robberies in the 20th century.