Tour a luxurious, romantic Skye getaway with stunning views and a peaceful setting

In order to impress their parents, brothers Gordon and Donald Macphie knew they’d have to reach for the stars in Skye.

With their parents running the first self-catering cottage on Skye to be awarded five stars, Gordon and Donald Macphie had big boots to fill when they started their own project.

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The brothers decided to build Dark Skye Cottage five years ago. Gordon had returned to Skye after working offshore and living in Glasgow and Donald was already living on the family croft having built his own house there.

Picture: Cool Stays

“I come from a long line of crofters and Donald and I now both have a croft next to each other here in the crofting township of Harrapool, Broadford,” says Gordon.

“Donald is a self-employed plumber and I’m setting up a whisky sales business and shop with my girlfriend, Fiona Gallie.

"Mum and dad had been running a B&B and Ptarmigan Cottage for nearly 20 years and we kept trying to convince them to retire, but they were having none of it. Building Dark Skye Cottage gave us a chance to show them what we could do.”

Picture: Cool Stays

Named because of the excellent star-gazing possibilities with minimal light pollution, the building of Dark Skye commenced four and a half years ago.

“It was about four years behind schedule and we finished at the end of last year,” says Gordon.

“However, it was all built by family and friends and work was done when we could get people to do it.

We didn’t want to rush either, we wanted it to be perfect. We took all the basic ideas that had worked well with Ptarmigan and then created Dark Skye, which is a bit more contemporary.”

Picture: Cool Stays

Externally the cottage is anything but modern, built in the traditional Skye vernacular and regularly deceiving guests into thinking it’s the original croft house, but this is turned on its head once they’re through the front door. “We were a bit worried about the layout, had we gone too bold?”

Having only two doors in the entire property was an interesting decision but it works. “There’s a door on the WC and on the entrance porch but that’s it.

Picture: Cool Stays

"The house is designed for couples and the lack of doors really helps the space to flow.”

The other bold move is the interior shape, as Gordon explains: “Every wall is 45 degrees, that was Donald’s idea. I don’t know how it works, but it does.

"Our friend and joiner hated us for those angles in the kitchen. Normal install is about two days; he was in there for two and a half weeks and still scratching his head.

"He had to do some massive modifications.”

Picture: Cool Stays

The finished kitchen does look fantastic and is complemented by a custom-made breakfast bar built from Talisker whisky barrels.

“We wanted to make sure that we added as much spirit (literally!) from our island as possible, and this very much influenced our design decisions.

It was a very personal build. Our joiner was incredibly creative, so instead of just, ‘This is what we want done,’ he could give his opinion and we’d get a better result.

"I think the hardest part was having traditional features and proportions but keeping it contemporary too.”

Picture: Cool Stays

In the open plan bedroom and bathroom area that mix has been achieved to perfection with a traditional roll-top bath with a unique feature.

“The bath is ridiculous,” says Gordon, laughing. “It’s supposed to accommodate two people, but I reckon you could get four or five in, it’s massive. It’s also designed to be filled to the top and then the water flows over on to the stones below – a kind of infinity bath.

“I think it is one of the best and most unique features of the cottage and it has a lovely view over the bay as well.

Picture: Cool Stays

"The beautiful step into the bath was made from one of the island’s Scots Elm trees that sadly came down in a storm several years back. It was harvested by a friend who runs a local sawmill.

"We hand-picked a section of the tree that best suited the shape of the step. The large pebbles and stones surrounding the bath are from one of our favourite beaches where we spent many days playing as kids.

The colour of the bath was an interesting discussion and is still ongoing.”

Gordon’s girlfriend, Fiona, was a real driving force in the interior design and again followed the family’s ethos in supporting local businesses.

Picture: Cool Stays

“We all think that is very important and have sourced most of our furnishings, including cushions, coasters and pictures, from designers and artists who are in the locality.

"All the artwork has been bought from locals and most have galleries on the island.

“Fiona has a great eye for these things and would happily overrule our decisions if she thought they wouldn’t work.

"Donald and I were both very happy with her input as the final article turned out better than we all could have hoped.

“She has recently moved up to Skye and is doing a fantastic job helping run the two cottages on a daily basis.

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"She’ll also be the resident Scottish gin expert in the shop – although I’m convinced most of her knowledge comes from ‘sampling’ in Glasgow bars.”

Guests’ reactions to the property have been extremely positive and both cottages are now rated five stars by VisitScotland, but perhaps the most important review comes from Gordon and Donald’s parents, who have finally retired and handed over Ptarmigan to the siblings to run too.

Picture: Cool Stays

“During the design stage of Dark Skye, there were several disagreements with our parents,” says Gordon.

“They were constantly trying to make it like Ptarmigan Cottage and didn’t quite ‘get’ the look we had in mind.

"But when the place was finally finished they commented that they thought it was just stunning and they were glad we had ignored them.

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“There was one thing we were happy to include in the design and that was the three chimneys.

"My dad’s mum was born in the house that is now the famous Three Chimneys restaurant in Colbost, and dad insisted that we had three chimneys in the cottage, which we think makes it even more unique.

Picture: Cool Stays

“In fact, the only problem we have now is fending off my mother, who is always trying to add just ‘one more painting’.”

Maybe she should be allowed. After all, they did use her inventory to kit out the kitchen.

Picture: Cool Stays

Dark Skye Cottage is available to let through CoolStays, and Luxury Skye.

Words: Nichola Hunter