Ben Nevis Summit Hotel

The Observatory Hotel (also known as The Temperance Hotel)
Photo of Observatory hotel and Observatory (left), taken 1910.
Crown Copyright

Around 1894, probably in response to the arrival of the West Highland Railway in Fort William and the subsequent rush of tourists to the area, an enterprising local hotelier decided to open a small hotel on the summit of Ben Nevis. The Temperance Hotel as it would generally come to be called, was annexed to the main observatory building and was run on behalf of the hotelier by two sisters who kept it open throughout the summer months.

Ben Nevis summit hotel
Postcard art showing Observatory and Hotel (right)

The sum of 3 shillings would buy you lunch and for 10 shillings you could get a bed for the night in one of the four highest bedrooms in the British Isles, as well as dinner, bed and breakfast. A popular choice of the more well-to-do was to hire a pony and guide for 21 shillings to make the ascent of Ben Nevis followed by an overnight stay in Britain's highest hotel in the hope of catching a clear morning and a glorious sunrise.

The hotel later took over the keeper's room at the abandoned observatory to serve refreshments and continued operating until just after the first world war although it's wooden structure suffered over subsequent years from disrepair and the observatory buildings also from fire and the attentions of climbers in the 1950's who stripped the lead from the roof, said to have been as a means of funding an Everest expedition.