The Tigh an Eilean Hotel stands in the centre of the village of Shieldaig, one of the most attractive villages on the magnificent and complex coast of Scotland's north west Highlands. As well as being pretty much in the geographical centre of the village, this superb hotel is also at the heart of the community, as its owners run the village shop which stands to one side, and the new Sheildaig Bar with its upper floor "Coastal Kitchen" bistro-style restaurant with roof terrace, which stands on the other. You can read our dining review for Tigh an Eilean Hotel here.
Intending visitors should note that Tigh an Eilean Hotel opens seasonally, closing for approximately the period the clocks go back for winter, from about the end of October to mid March. The shop, bar and Coastal Kitchen remain open throughout the year. The village of Shieldaig was developed in the 1800s, and Tigh an Eilean seems to have operated as a hotel for a considerable period. The name means House of the Island, reflecting the view of Shieldaig Island from many windows, and it is pronounced "Tee an Eelan".
The front door of Tigh an Eilean gives access to an attractive main hall and reception desk. Inlaid in the wooden floor is a compass rose showing the hotel's alignment. To the left of the hall is a comfortable lounge area with a fireplace. A second lounge can be found on the other side of the hall. This leads to the attractive residents' bar, and to the hotel's restaurant, awarded 2 Rosettes by the AA. This attractive room is the largest in the hotel and can seat up to 28 covers. The views from the restaurant, like those from so much of the rest of the hotel, are superb.
The Sheildaig Bar, which stood to one side of the hotel for many years, was removed and replaced in early 2009 with a new bar which has on its upper floor the Coastal Kitchen and a roof terrace extending above the space occupied by the hotel restaurant.
There are eleven guest rooms at Tigh an Eilean. These comprise four doubles, three twins, one family room with a double and a single, and three single rooms. Most of the rooms face the front of the hotel, and so enjoy those wonderful views. All guest rooms are en suite, and room numbers go up to 16, an echo of a time when there were more rooms: the old system was kept in order to allow guests with favourites to continue to stay in their preferred rooms.
The hotel has a Tardis-like feel caused by the extension of the guest rooms out over the neighbouring ground floor shop. Our room came with everything we needed, including a large and very comfortable bed with an even larger duvet, plus bathrobes, toiletries, coffee, tea, and water. The modern world was reflected in the free availability of WiFi, while too much intrusion is prevented by the absence of phones and TVs from the guest rooms.
The age and scale of the hotel mean that disabled access is not good. The new bar has ramp access and a disabled toilet on the ground floor, and food can be served in the bar. The hotel itself has level, but tight, access to the ground floor, while guest accommodation is only accessible to those who can tackle the stairs.
Tigh an Eilean is a real gem, the sort of hotel you would come back to time and again or recommend to friends, and a hotel perfectly in keeping with its location. It describes itself as a comfy home from home, and with its friendly welcoming service and relaxed style, that is exactly how it feels. This is a hotel people have for many decades used as a base from which to tour Wester Ross, and it remains so today: a classic combination of outstanding dining and comfortable accommodation. It is also the sort of hotel that fits awkwardly into the standard classification systems for hotels, which may be why in addition to its 2 AA Rosettes for dining, it has been awarded 1 Red Star by the AA. We read this to imply that the AA inspector liked the hotel as much as we do, but couldn't readily fit it's sightly olde world charms into a system intended to cover every type of hotel. You can read our dining review for Tigh an Eilean Hotel here.