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Issue 34 - Hebridean hospitality

Scotland Magazine Issue 34
August 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Hebridean hospitality

Kinloch Lodge
Isle of Skye
Tel: +44 (0)1471 833 333

This hotel simply couldn’t be in any country other than Scotland – it has an unmatchable sense of place. The whitewashed stone architecture is part up-market country lodge and part farm; the newer South Lodge is just as restrained externally but has an even better view over the loch. Both fit admirably into the Isle of Skye landscape where white-painted properties, set in a mountainous landscape, draw the eye for miles around.

Your hosts here are food writer and cook, Claire Macdonald, and her husband, Lord Macdonald. Lady Claire, with her daughter Isabella and son-in-law Tom and crew, run a delightful country hotel, stuffed with comforts and good taste (in more ways than one).

There is certainly an air of class about the place, as one might expect at base camp of a prestigious clan chief… and there are aristocratic objects everywhere, including letters from Queen Victoria… but nothing’s at all stuffy. Lounges have real log fires.

Accommodation ranges from comfy and plain through deluxe with wonderful sea views to a newer style of room – sassy and stylish, such as room no. 8. The rich green-walled dining room, hung with old oils, serves superb local produce. Visit to visit the ever-cheerful lady’s shop, from where you might be able to select a gift or two with a real taste of Skye – one of Scotland’s greatest natural assets. It’s a star turn, as they say.

Highland Cottage
Isle of Mull
Tel: +44 (0)1688 302 030

Tobermory is the colourful capital of Mull, one of the largest of the Hebridean islands. Yellow, blue and pink houses surround the small town’s harbour while wide, quiet streets of cottages line streets leading up the hill. In such an elevated position is Highland Cottage – itself painted a smart terracotta shade – a compact, deluxe four-star hotel with a reputation for mouthwatering food. David Currie and his chef-patron wife Jo are clearly much admired by their guests who often write to us or send online reviews about their lively hospitality, attention to detail and sense of fun. Jo won a Médaille d’Or 2007 for her ‘outstanding dinners’ and you can confidently expect top-notch cuisine founded on island and Scottish produce, especially seafood – wonderful hand-dived scallops – Highland beef and game. Guests gather before dinner in a conservatory area for an aperitif and canapés; Dave usually finds some light jazz to play and guests chat and mingle.

Accommodation is in a range of cosy bedrooms which are notably well-equipped with extras and nice little touches to add a homely feel.

Comfy beds and peace and quiet ensure restful nights. Book a bayfacing room and you can see for miles.

Mull is the home of clan Maclean and their seat, Duart Castle, is well worth a visit, as is the centre where magnificent sea-eagles can be studied. And if you get this far, ensure you visit the Island of Iona with its otherworldly abbey.

Coll Hotel
Isle of Coll
Tel: +44 (0)1879 230 334

It’s been a busy year at but one place we especially enjoyed visiting was the Isle of Coll, one of the Inner Hebrides and neighbour island of Tiree, which is perhaps a little better known. But these are two very distinct islands; visitors sense this right away. Coll’s attracted many new residents in recent years and the result is a vibrant community, one with which you soon empathise.

The island’s undeniably beautiful, much of it is a nature reserve, and is unusual in that it has two castles – one medieval, one Victorian – and each with the same name.

Take the ferry from Oban to Arinagour, Coll’s hamlet capital with its single row of pretty cottages making one main street, plus other scattered dwellings. On the hill is the very well-run Coll Hotel where the Oliphant family will take great care of you. The atmosphere is informal and the hotel reeks of lovable character. Bedrooms are clean and, furnished simply in country pine, provide all you’ll need.

Julie leads the kitchen team and the food in the restaurant or The Gannet lounge bar, named after the always-hungry seabird, is as fresh as you can get. Local seafood is popular, plus a range of modern interpretations alongside the classic. Homemade soups get top marks as do home-baked desserts.

There are two bar areas, the smaller of which has a lovely open fire.

And the bathroom names reflect island wit: ‘buoys’ and ‘gulls.’ Some others worth considering...

Scotland’s islands are its jewels. The Hebrides, immortalised in music by Mendelssohn, offer great variety and choice.

Each isle has its own personality. Skye and Mull are famous, of course, and you simply must visit Iona where the Argyll Hotel offers homegrown organic food and is one of our personal favourites.

The Isle of Colonsay is a bit like Coll in that it only has one hotel – but it’s really very good, with flashes of sophistication to surprise... well-chosen, bold matt colours and a cool dining room.

In August 2007 is launched and will mean that you'll be able to find all the independent hotel info and inspiration you’ll need on the misty isle’s many and varied accommodation options 3 more ideas for you

Scarinish Hotel
Isle of Tiree
Tel: +44 (0)1879 220 308

Tiree is a highly photogenic isle renowned for its huge white beaches and often excellent surfing conditions. The Scarinish Hotel is a cheery and informal little hotel down by the eponymous village’s harbour and beach. Clean, simple rooms and fresh, tasty food – including much that’s homemade boost popularity. A first-floor lounge has books, games and binoculars

Dusidale House
Isle of Skye
Tel: +44 (0)1471 833 202

This year newly in the capable hands of Ken and Anne who also run Toravaig House, the Scottish Island Hotel of the Year 2007, Duisdale has a magnificent, elevated position overlooking the Sound of Sleat and is surrounded by woods and gardens. A revamp has freshened all areas and you can expect high quality care and friendly attention

Scarista House
Isle of Harris
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 550 238

World-famous for its tweed, Harris has a remarkable landscape, macho, rugged and surprising. One of the Outer Hebrides it offers an ‘edge of the world’ sense of escape. Tim and Patricia Martin’s superb small hotel, a former manse, is elegant, beautifully furnished, full of charm and quality.

Books, games, a friendly house cat, fine wines and fine cuisine, too