The Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island can be found not much more than eleven miles north of Oban, yet seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of its busy streets. This is a place that redefines the word "tranquility", offering the quality of accommodation and service you would expect from a five star hotel, plus excellent food: you can read our dining review for The Isle of Eriska Hotel here.
The Isle of Eriska Hotel stands on a private 300 acre island in the mouth of Loch Creran. To its south the island is separated from the mainland by a narrow stretch of tidal water which is crossed by a road bridge. The result is that the hotel offers the best of both worlds. It allows guests to enjoy the distinctive magic that comes from being on a small Scottish island, yet without any of the complexities that can sometimes accompany reaching an island.
Eriska House was built in 1884 by the architect Hippolyte Blanc for a branch of the Stewarts of Appin, and later had a number of owners. The estate, including house, island and 50 acres of the neighbouring mainland was purchased by Robin and Sheena Buchanan-Smith in 1973, and converted for use as a luxury hotel over the following year. Today the hotel and estate are still owned and run by the Buchanan-Smith family.
Because the hotel was initially built as a family home, albeit an unusually grand one, the public areas are on a comfortable scale and the rooms all feel well proportioned and just right. The hub of the ground floor is the magnificent oak panelled hall. The panelling was inserted in 1913 to cover up wiring after the electrification of the house, and adds hugely to the atmosphere. The fire in the hall burns every day of the year, and comfortable seating allows you to relax and simply enjoy the ambience. Leading from the hall are the piano room, complete with a piano, and the drawing room, both of which serve as guest lounges. Also leading off the hall is the library, which doubles as the hotel's bar, where you will find another open fire on cold days. The largest room on the ground floor is the restaurant, which combines a wood panelled main room that offers a surprisingly contemporary feel with a bright and airy conservatory extension.
There are 17 guest rooms in the main house at the Isle of Eriska Hotel. These are classified as deluxe, which tend to be slightly larger and towards the front of the house, and standard, which tend to be slightly smaller and located on the eastern side of the main house. As you would expect from a 5 Star hotel, all guest rooms are highly appointed and equipped, and levels of soundproofing appear to be unusually good. The guest rooms are all named after Scottish islands. There are additionally 5 luxury spa suites suites and 2 two bedroom cottage suites in the hotel grounds. The suites come with their own private gardens and hot tubs. The hotel's website includes a gallery of images of many of the rooms.
Guests at the hotel can take advantage of a range of leisure activities and opportunities. Golf, putting, tennis and croquet are available on the island, while the spa comes complete with a gym, a sauna and a 17m swimming pool, plus a range of treatments. Activities such as clay pigeon shooting can be arranged, and there are a number of walks, graded from easy to "scrambling" which allow you to explore the island itself. Attractions on view include the pier and the old ford, plus Otter Point and the remains of a crannog in the channel separating the island from the mainland.
Conferences, meetings and other functions can be accommodated at the hotel, and exclusive use and weddings may also be booked, though usually only at times of year when they are unlikely to impinge on the hotel's core leisure business.
For an old building, disabled access is reasonable. The public rooms are all on the ground floor, and two guest rooms on the ground floor have been adapted for use by disabled guests.
We approached our visit to the Isle of Eriska Hotel with extremely high expectations driven by its 5 Star and 3 Rosette ratings and its island location. What we found was something close to the ultimate retreat. Outstanding guest accommodation and public rooms combine with highly professional service and good value to produce an experience to which many guests return time and again. You can read our dining review for The Isle of Eriska Hotel here.