Doolan Award 2014 - The Inn at John O’Groats

The Inn at John O’Groats

The winners of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Awards 2014 were announced on 18 June. The award-winning projects represent some of the very best of current Scottish architecture and each will go forward to the shortlist for the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, which will be presented on 5 November 2014 at the National Museum of Scotland. The RIAS Doolan Award is supported by the Doolan family and the Scottish Government. Over the coming weeks we will be highlighting each of these projects in our “featured project” section. The fourth of these is: The Inn at John O’Groats by GLM


A collection of vividly-coloured and Nordic-inspired timber pavilions have been employed to inventively extend this restored Victorian hotel and create an attractive, prominent landmark, reversing a process of decline at this important tourist destination.  The decision to restore the hotel rather than demolish and rebuild at lower cost has resulted in a characterful dwelling which both retains an historic legacy of its symbolic location and reflects the proximity and influence of Norway, its nearest neighbouring country across the North Sea.


The Inn at John O’ Groats provides 16 variously sized holiday apartments offering dramatically framed views. The design responds to its harbour-front location facing the Pentland Firth and its inspiration came from Scandinavian fishing villages, expressing the Norse heritage of Caithness, and the traditional British beach hut.  Its interiors were designed in conjunction with interior designers NoChintz. As well as The Inn, GLM has been responsible for the construction of 23 luxury holiday self-catering residences, a completely remodelled co-operative café selling local produce and dishes, as well as an activity centre and retail space.


The Victorian baronial-style John O’ Groats Hotel, occupying a prominent position in this world-famous location, had been derelict for more than 15 years. The landscape by the seafront, with a scattering of low-level houses, was previously dominated by the derelict hotel, which impacted negatively upon the area and provided a disappointing anti-climax for visitors.  The project was conceived and inspired by the client, Natural Retreats.


photo credit: Pip Rustage