Scarista House, Harris
(Sgarasta Bheag, Isle of Harris, HS3 3HX, 01859 550238)
This well-proportioned Georgian manse has a long history of hospitality, which has continued right into to the present day, thanks to its proprietors, Tim and Patricia Martin. The building is Grade B listed, but it’s the location that’s truly remarkable. From every room, there is a spectacular view of the beach, and behind the house, you can see the majestic purple mountains.
The owners strive to maintain the manse’s 18th century character, by finding beautiful, period-appropriate furniture and fabrics to furnish the rooms. The walls are painted in serene creams, blues and greens which echo the landscape outside. In keeping with the homey feel, the rooms have old-fashioned girls’ names, such as Dot, Flora and Lily.
The drawing room and the library are just as inviting as the guest rooms, with open fires in the grate and frequent visits from the owners’ cat and two dogs, named Misty, Maud and Tess.
The star role is played by the restaurant, which has received many accolades over the years, including a place in the Michelin guide, the Good Food guide and Scotland the Best. Guests can peruse menus full of dishes featuring the island’s best produce, such as Harris Minch languoustines with garlic and herb butter, and Dijon mayonnaise.
If you want to venture outside the hotel, you can visit the famed Harris Tweed weavers, or you can take advantage of the many and varied outdoor activities the island has to offer.
The cost of double rooms begin at £235.
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island
(Benderloch, Argyll, PA37 1SD, 01631 720 371)
Ever dreamed of having your own private island? Well, your dream can come true. The Isle of Eriska’s exclusive estate stretches over 300 acres, meaning that guests have the island all to themselves. The name ‘Eriska’ is derived from the name of a Viking king, ‘Erik the Red’, who led invasions of Scotland’s west coast in the 10th century.
The hotel’s five stars are most certainly well earned, considering the number of services and activities that the estate offers. The ESPA spa has all the treatments you could wish for, including different types of massages and detoxes. You can even take a bit of the spa home with you, by visiting the ESPA shop. If you fancy a more active day in the great outdoors, you can partake in golfing, clay pigeon shooting, fishing, archery or mountain biking. There’s even an indoor sports hall, so when if it rains you won’t be stuck with nothing to do.
Exploring the estate’s 300 acres will keep you occupied for days, with a spectacular rift valley and Bronze Age crannog to discover.
If you want to take your stay up a notch, you can book one of the luxury spa suites, which includes your own private garden and hot tub.
Standard rooms start at a cost of £370.
Auchrannie Resort, Arran
(Auchrannie Rd, Brodick, Isle of Arran, KA27 8BZ, 01770 302234)
If just one hotel is not enough for you, Auchrannie Resort has two, each with four stars! The House Hotel has incredible suites, with super-king-sized beds and big baths perfect for two, while the Spa Resort has executive rooms complete with “chill-out pods” and hot-tubs. Not only that, but resort also includes thirty five-star luxury lodges with plenty of privacy, and their own balconies or patios.
And there’s no possibility of getting bored of a single hotel restaurant, because there are three restaurants to choose from. The Cruize bar/brasserie is kitted out with modern furnishings and stylish glass galleries while the Brambles Seafood and Grill Restaurant puts a strong emphasis on local fish and free-range chicken. Eighteen69 is “all about sharing” with Scottish tapas-style dishes in a pleasant, glasshouse setting.
Don’t worry about the leisure club being overcrowded, because there are two of those as well. You can swim, work out, or play games in the sports hall to your heart’s content. The destination spa, ASPA, prides itself on its premium products and relaxing treatments. And children are very welcome at the resort, with their own ‘Playbarn’, a soft-play and chill-out haven.
If all this still isn’t enough, Brodick village is only a short walk away, as well as a golf course, a beach and a castle.
Room tariffs begin at £163.
The House Over-By at The Three Chimneys, Skye
(Colbost House, Dunvegan, Colbost, Isle of Skye IV55 8ZT, 01470 511258)
A classic restaurant with rooms, The Three Chimneys offers luxurious accommodation just across the courtyard at the House Over-By. Every room has a sea-view, and is furnished with comfort and style in mind.
As soon as you arrive, you can request a tray of afternoon tea and home baking, which is repeated every time you return to the hotel from your explorations of the island. You can also make use of the Lewis chess set and other games in the well-appointed lounge.
The Morning Room is a beautiful place to start the day, where you can eat your breakfast while gazing at the unforgettable views. Loch Dunvegan, the Minch and the peaks of Harris can all be seen from this charming room. There are even binoculars provided if you fancy a spot of wildlife-watching.
The restaurant has held 3 AA rosettes continuously for 16 years, as well as a number of other awards, and you can see why. Head Chef Scott Davies is a genius at creating delicious dishes which incorporate Scottish culinary traditions and Nordic elements.
After dinner, you can retire to the lounge for a Scottish gin or a dram, and perhaps catch sight of the Northern Lights out of the window.
Standard rooms cost £345.
Highland Cottage, Mull
(Breadalbane St, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, PA75 6PD, 01688 302030)
Owners David and Jo do not call their cottage a hotel, and this is reflected in the home comforts and cosy atmosphere that they provide. Their website proclaims that this is “more than just a B&B”, and they are absolutely right.
The rooms are dripping with Edwardian charm, complete with sumptuous fabrics, elegant light fittings and, more often than not, a four poster bed. Floral and rococo wall-paper gives a sense of grandeur, but not so much that the rooms become imposing.
Dining at the cottage is fun and relaxed, and you can keep your usual table for the duration of your stay. There’s no need to dress up, and no rush to leave, so you can enjoy your delicious meal in comfort. Breakfasts aren’t just limited to the usual hearty full Scottish – there are lighter options for those who prefer a gentle start to the day. And during the day, if you fancy a tipple, you can help yourself to the “Honesty” bar in the first floor lounge.
If you would like to do some sightseeing, Mull will not disappoint. Castles, beaches and boat trips will make your stay on the island truly memorable.