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Issue 45 - The Scottish Hotel Guide

Scotland Magazine Issue 45
June 2009


This article is 9 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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The Scottish Hotel Guide

It is estimated that Scotland has 790 islands, of which 97 are populated. You can visit many of them and, indeed, some of them make outstanding holiday destinations. More info at:

Island retreats Isle of Coll Coll Hotel Tel: +44 (0)1879 230 334 This is remote living and taken-for-granted occasions like the recent birth of a child when we were there, well, they’re major island events! Kevin and Julie Oliphant run the truly charming three-star inn style hotel which sits up on a hillside overlooking Arinagour Bay.

Bedrooms are simple and clean – it is the cooking that delights.

Informal in atmosphere, with a splash of bistro élan, the Gannet Restaurant serves prime fish and seafood plus home baking. Island painting experiences with Kip Poulson are offered, too.

Isle of Iona Argyll Hotel Tel: +44 (0)1681 700 334 Iona is one of the most famous Scots islands – certainly it has some of longest recorded history. It is a true retreat and refuge from the neuroses of the world. Blue-green waters lap against white sand; at 9pm the sonorous chime of the ancient abbey’s bell gives a gentle call to ecumenical worship. The Argyll Hotel is a perfect fit for the isle: a touch sophisticated, yet informal still. Cosy three-star bedrooms; inviting lounges; nice pictures; in cooler months a real fire.

Interesting, often organic, cooking.

Isle of Skye Ullinish Country Lodge Tel: +44 (0)1470 572 214 The Ullinish peninsula is a wild and beautiful area, elevated a little, with outstanding views to sea, sky and mountains. Years ago this was a rather run down old inn; today the efforts of owners Pat and Brian with their acclaimed clef Bruce Morrison have revivified the hotel no end. The whitewashed old building houses smart bedrooms, some with huge carved beds; there’s an elegant lounge with open fire. The dining room serves highly contemporary, exciting cuisine.

Isle of Arran Kilmichael Tel: +44 (0)1770 302 219 The reigning Scottish Country House Hotel of 2009, Kilmichael is the height of island elegance, charm and wit. A romantic old house – the oldest on Arran, they say – gives guests a wonderful experience of island hospitality. Sumptuous lounges, open fires, art and tranquility, too.

Anthony Butterworth is a fine cook (he prefers that term) and in the Italianate dining room his delightful meals earned the hotel four gold Foodstars. Peacocks roam the extensive grounds: all about, Arran – ‘Scotland in miniature’ – awaits exploration.

Isle of Harris Scarista House Tel: +44 (0)1859 550 238 Harris is on the fringe of Europe. Gaze out from vast, white sand beaches – like the one beside this former manse – knowing that the next Westerly landfall would be Canada. Tweed comes from here of course, infused (literally) with the natural colours of the wild island. Scarista House is a relaxing, handsome and pretty place in a sublime location. The elements may lash in winter but that’s part of the appeal: if you can’t get back in touch with nature here, give up. Books, CDs, art, rich colours and elegance await you, as does fine care and good food.

Shetland Isles Busta House Tel: +44 (0)1806 522 506 The Shetland Isles are the northernmost part of the kingdom, a wedding present of sorts to Scotland from Norway in the middle ages.

Valuable, too, as it transpired: oil! But the many islands of the archipelago have individual appeal and any trip repays advance research. The main settlement is Lerwick but if you are naturewatching then try somewhere like this, popular Busta House which dates back to 1588.

Accommodation includes four-poster rooms.

Food includes sweet Shetland hill lamb and fresh seafood.

Isle of Skye Toravaig House Tel: +44 (0)1471 820 200 Acclaimed in The Scottish Hotel Awards over recent years, Toravaig unveils new-look, stylish rooms this season. It sits in a beautiful area known as ‘the garden of Skye’ and offers hospitality we heartily recommend, led by Anne Gracie and Ken Gunn – former captain of the fivestar Hebridean Princess. The hotel’s fab luxury yacht takes guests on unforgettable trips, often with picnics and bubbly. Chef Andrew Lipp, who won a Médaille d’Or 2009, prepares outstanding cuisine: in some ways this is a restaurant-withrooms as food is at the heart.

Isle of Skye Kinloch Lodge Tel: +44 (0)1471 833 33 With a lawn leading down to the quiet waters’ edge, this heritage-rich hotel offers a wide range of accommodation and several utterly charming, plush lounges with log fires. This is the home of Lord and Lady Macdonald but the food is quite the opposite of what has become associated with the historic clan name. Chef Marcello Tully, who holds the top six Foodstars rating from, offers classy, skilled but not overwrought cuisine founded on the on local and natural. The wine list is exemplary: try a ‘wine flight’.

Isle of Islay Harbour Inn & Restaurant Tel: +44 (0)1496 810 330 We finish this month’s nine recommendations with an apt entry: the 2009 Scottish Island Hotel of the Year. Neil and Carol Scott are the welcoming hosts at this captivating little hotel, the hub of the village of Port Charlotte. Islay is a large island and has a varied topography, however many know it best as the producer of some of the world’s most celebrated whiskies, characterised by a smoky, peaty flavour. Back at the inn, the seven fresh, bright rooms have free wi-fi. The blue and white restaurant, with big sea views, serves vibrantly fresh local food.


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