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A large, whitewashed manor that overlooks Loch Indaal from a hilly vantage point, Islay House is an exclusive country retreat. Accessed by a winding driveway, the house has an impressive façade with the impression of grandeur increasing as you step inside.

The entrance hall has wooden floorboards covered in large rugs, a huge fireplace flanked by a grandfather clock and piano, and mounted stags’ heads on the walls. Wellington boots and umbrellas by the front door are for guests’ use, and can be borrowed for the various activities the hotel can arrange such as fishing, hiking, hunting and stalking.

A sweeping spiral staircase leads upstairs to the rooms, each individually named, and decorated in a traditional, elegant style in keeping with the history of the house. Rooms are spacious and well equipped with many having Nespresso machines, fireplaces, free-standing baths or four-poster beds.

The chef places great importance on local provenance and grows many of the ingredients used in the restaurant in the hotel’s walled kitchen garden. Afternoon tea is also served in the restaurant, while the bar has an impressive selection of whiskies. Please note, the hotel has no lift.

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Rooms

The hotel has 11 spacious rooms, each named after a previous owner or a special place on the island. The decor is traditional yet elegant, using a range of muted hues, but each room is individual in size and layout. Some feature four-poster beds or open fireplaces, others free-standing baths. The smallest room is on the top floor, and although it is still spacious, it has a lower ceiling and smaller windows which gives the impression of less space. Most rooms have large beds and a Nespresso machine, and all have showers.

Location

Islay House sits just north of Loch Indaal in a central island location just off the road which runs from Bridgend to Port Charlotte. It is set back from the road on a large estate where you’ll also find Islay House Square, a courtyard of craft workshops. Bowmore is ten minutes’ drive away, and it takes around half an hour to drive to Port Ellen.

Food and Drink

The chef at Islay House grows many of his own ingredients in the hotel’s walled kitchen garden, which also acts as a community garden used by local residents. The restaurant is large and grand, with tall sash windows and traditional decor and serves a menu of classic Scottish dishes which make the most of the abundant fish, seafood and game in the area. Afternoon tea is also served at the hotel, and the bar has its own award-winning cask whisky, from which tastings can be arranged.

Facilities and Activities

The hotel sits within expansive estate grounds which can be explored on foot and several activities can be arranged by the hotel, including fishing, stalking, hunting and hiking.

Our opinion

Islay House exudes an air of relaxed refinement, particularly from the intimate yet sophisticated bar. We think that having wellies for guests’ use is a great touch.

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    Alternative places to stay nearby

    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favorite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.

    Experiences while staying here

    The following activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences of the area where you’re staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident’s eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can also suggest outdoor pursuits and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the traditions of the area’s inhabitants.