Review: Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, Craignure, Isle of Mull – Scotland on Sunday Travel
For anyone of a certain vintage, the colourful houses you see as the ferry slowly makes its way into Tobermory on the Isle of Mull will bring back memories (and songs) of the popular kids TV programme, Balamory. While the ferry from Oban to Craignure doesn’t include this iconic vignette, you will get a glimpse of an unassuming, low lying building that’s the Isle of Mull Hotel - a must-visit for those looking for good food and some rest and relaxation.
Budget or boutique
With rooms coming in from around £130 per night, this is boutique pricing but given the location and quality of rooms, it’s easy to see why.
The hotel has a mid century feel due to its architecture and facade. Inside there’s tartan, leather armchairs and roaring fires - just what you might expect from a Scottish hotel, but with a bright colour palette, the look is more modern Scottish than twee or shortbread tin. The hotel underwent an extensive renovation and investment in 2021, with more than £4.5 million spent to update the public areas, all bedrooms, the spa and the dining areas. There are 72 refurbished rooms and bathrooms with spacious Sea View and Retreat Suites so guests can soak up the views of Craignure Bay.
You can see the spa and pool area on arrival thanks to its wood-clad exterior which stands out from the original building. If it’s a spa retreat you’re after, book one of the spa deluxe rooms, which are located a short walk from the facilities. These light and spacious rooms have views across the bay, which you can enjoy from your own hot tub. We were lucky to enjoy a spa room, which had an earthy colour palette of browns, blues and neutrals. The bedroom had a king sized bed, desk area and sofa while the en suite had a large stand alone tub and separate rain shower. Regardless of the weather, you’re going to want to make the most of the hot tub, which is easy to use and well maintained.
Wining and dining
The hotel’s restaurant, Òran na Mara Bistro - from the Gaelic for ‘the song of the sea’- overlooks the bay and as the name suggests, has a menu full of local seafood. The hotel has close links with local fishermen and fish farms, so you can look forward to dishes that include Inverlussa mussels, hand dived scallops and produce from The Tobermory Fish Company. Other local suppliers include Isle of Mull Cheese and drinks from the Tobermory Distillery. Fruit and veg is also supplied from local farms.
We enjoyed a gastronomic tasting menu paired with wines, which included some of this outstanding produce, cooked wonderfully by executive chef David Morris and his team. Look out for the Mull scallops, Inverlussa langoustine and roasted hake. Breakfast is served here too, and includes the usual hotel fare of a full Scottish breakfast and eggs benedict as well as lighter bites such as porridge, oyster shots and avocado on toast.
Weather permitting, post dinner drinks can be enjoyed on the Sea Deck, which has more than 100 Scotch whiskies and gins on the menu, as well as the choice of a few beers from the local area.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s loads to see on Mull, and you can visit most of the food and drink suppliers if you wish (including Isle of Mull Cheese and Tobermory Fish which both appeared on Banjo Beale’s BBC Show - Read Banjo Beale interview with The Scotsman). If you’re keen to explore the Driftwood spa you’ll find a 17-metre heated swimming pool with a sea view as well as the outdoor Wilderness spa, located on a secluded deck with private thermal suite, hot tub and bucket shower. Leisure facilities include a Rasul mud room and the outdoor hot tub. There’s also a full treatment menu, and we tried the 25 minute massage, which was an ideal way to kick start a day of rest and relaxation.
In the room there’s a tray of Tunnocks teacakes and wafers, as well as Brodie’s tea and coffee along with a Nespresso machine and retro Roadstar radio. Full sized toiletries are ishga skincare products, and there are extra towels, robes and slippers in the spacious cupboard.
At the Isle of Mull Hotel you’ll enjoy the cool Caledonian vibes, breath-taking views, and the upgraded facilities, not to mention the friendly atmosphere throughout. Whether you’re staying for a romantic weekend, a family holiday or simply to explore the beautiful island of Mull, there is a room to suit everyone. Guests are encouraged to bring along their furry friends as the public areas and all bedrooms are dog-friendly ensuring everyone feels at home whilst staying at the Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa.
Hotel info: Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, Craignure, Isle of Mull PA65 6BB (01680 812 544, www.crerarhotels.com/isle-of-mull-hotel-spa)