IT was once the site of a hotel said to have been used by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Now plans have been lodged to entice travellers to follow in his footsteps and spend a night by the side of the A9 at a multi-million pound hotel and retail complex.


Well, it's very much still on the drawing board at this point, but developers hope to bring it to life close to Highland village Tomatin.

The plot chosen, at the Tomatin junction, is currently disused but was previously occupied by the Freeburn Hotel. Built in 1745, it was reputed used by the Jacobite leader as he travelled to defeat at Culloden.

According to Canmore, the national record of the historic environment, it was rebuilt and refurbished in 1895 and acted as the headquarters of the Cyclists Touring Club.

However, all things must pass, and the Freeburn Hotel did too, closing in the 1960s to become a Little Chef, which shut its kitchen for good with demolition in 2008.

The National:

Artist's impression


We certainly are not.

The very contemporary scheme includes a 97 bedroom hotel, restaurant, petrol station and "drive-through bakery and food outlet". You'd have been hard pressed to find one of them in Charlie's day.


Designated as a brownfield site, the land is already subject to mixed-use live consent for hotel, restaurant and retail purposes.

This permission was granted in 2007 and the new blueprint, drawn up by the Tomatin Trading Company, will have to go through planning approval at Highland Council.

However, the applicants think they are on to a winner, claiming a green-light from officials will help "bring a much-needed economic boost" to the area and create a new "retail and food destination" on Scotland's longest road.

William Frame, managing director of Tomatin Trading Company, has held the site since 2005.


According to Frame, this is "the right time" – in part, because of the multi-billion pound dualling of the A9.

The project, billed as the largest transport scheme in the country's history, is already two years in and is aimed at improving road safety between Perth and Inverness. It is expected to complete in 2025, but Frame hopes to open his facilities in late summer or autumn next year.


Revealing artist's impressions, Frame said: "The dualling of the A9 will include the stretch in close proximity to the site of the proposed development and the Highlands are an increasingly popular tourist destination.

“There is high demand for quality, affordable hotel rooms within easy reach of both Aviemore and Inverness as well as the many attractions of the area from the North Coast 500, Loch Ness and Cairngorm National Park through to many of Scotland’s renowned distilleries.

“The development will showcase the best of the Highland region, from the products in the retail outlets to the locally sourced produce in the restaurant and farm shop, which will represent the best of Scottish food and drink. This offering will be supported by a leading hotel which will tie into the Highland landscape while providing quality, affordable accommodation.”