One of Scotland’s most unique restaurants with rooms, Mingary Castle is perched on a picturesque promontory on the fringes of the west coast of Scotland in Ardnamurchan Estate. The 13th century castle was restored to its former glory in 2016 and in 2021 its drawbridge dropped and reopened as a stunning restaurant with rooms. It was awarded 5 gold stars by AA in 2022 and recognised in The Times Top 100 places to stay in Britain’s list; this year it won Best Restaurant Newcomer at the Scottish Excellence Awards and winners of the Good Hotel Guide Editor’s Choice 2024 awards for Restaurants with Rooms. At the helm are two seasoned hospitality professionals, chef Colin Nicholson and his business partner, Jessica Thompson, who are focused on putting the castle on Scotland’s culinary map. The castle boasts majestic views of the Atlantic Ocean from its original battlements with 360-degree views of the peninsula, four beautifully designed suites and an intimate dining room. With its dramatic exterior and windswept location, Mingary offers a truly one-of-a-kind luxurious experience within a fortress steeped in Scottish history.
Chef Patron, Colin Nicholson
Award-winning chef Colin, formally Head chef at Albert and Michel Roux Jnr Restaurant at Inverlochy Castle re-opened Mingary Castle with his business partner, Jessica as a restaurant with rooms in May 2021. Colin’s passion for local, seasonal, and foraged ingredients helps him showcase Scotland’s natural larder. He works closely with producers, fishermen and farmers to create a sublime daily changing six-course tasting menu served in Mingary’s intimate dining room.
33-year-old Colin’s passion for hospitality stemmed from his first part-time job in his teens on the Isle of North Uist. He went to Strathclyde University to undertake a Maths and Physics degree before switching last minute to Hotel & Hospitality Management. After a year, his passion for cooking flourished and he decided to return to North Uist to take a full-time job at the place where he first began his hospitality career, Langass Lodge under the watchful eye of John Buchanan. Here he learned a range of skills from fish preparation to butchery, and classical cookery while studying Professional Cookery at Inverness College.
He then went onto work at Loch Lomond Golf Club under Darren Harrison for a season before joining the newly built cruise ship, Seabourn Sojourn. Here he travelled from Hong Kong to Europe, experiencing new ingredients from many different countries that helped shape his style of cooking.
Colin returned to Langass Lodge as Sous Chef for three years. He helped maintain Langass Lodge’s long reputation as being one of the best restaurants in the Western Isles. With a keen interest in travel, he decided to pack his bags and head to, Australia. He found himself working in one of Australia’s top and long-standing restaurants The Lakehouse in Daylesford. After a short stint in New Zealand, he returned home, with a wealth of new knowledge and skills.
Colin took on the role of Head Chef at Arisaig House in 2018, working with local suppliers and produce grown within the kitchen garden he achieved 2 AA Rosettes within six months and maintained the Rosettes the following year.
Within Colin’s first year as Head Chef at Albert and Michel Roux Jnr’ Restaurant he achieved 3 AA Rosettes.
General Manager and co-owner, Jessica Thomspon
At 24 years old, Jessica made the decision to take the reins at Mingary Castle and re-open it as a restaurant with rooms in May 2021 with her business partner Colin. Jessica oversees all aspects of front of house while Colin leads the kitchen team. Jessica began her hospitality career in the kitchen at just 14 years old on her home island of North Uist. Her versatility makes her a well-rounded hospitality professional that stands out from the crowd. Jessica received the Pioneer Awards in the Code 30 under 30 list this year for breaking new ground in hospitality and establishing a creative and flourishing business.
Whilst studying for an SVQ in Hospitality she decided to move to front of house. Jessica was a
natural in a customer facing role. She then headed for sunnier climes to Australia. Jessica worked her way through a few of Australia’s top destinations including Qualia on Hamilton Island, Queensland, and The Lake House in Daylesford, Victoria. Hopping over to New Zealand, she furthered her experience by working as senior waiter at Craggy Range Winery in Hawkes Bay and as Restaurant Supervisor at the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, in the Bay of Islands.
When she returned to Scotland in 2018, Jessica took up the position of Assistant Restaurant Manager of Albert and Michel Roux Jnr Restaurant in the much esteemed Inverlochy Castle. After six months Jessica received a promotion to Restaurant Manager, where she continued to learn and work hard for just over two years.
Jessica enjoyed making all guests welcome and delivering world class service in the 3 AA rosette restaurant, always looking to enhance her knowledge. While working full time at Inverlochy Castle the WSET Level one and two was attained.
Jessica is passionate about, creating a memorable experience for her guests through warm and welcoming hospitality. She is also a firm believer that a happy and valued workforce provides the best experience for guests.