The white painted Hotel Eilean Iarmain stands in the village of Isleornsay or, in Gaelic, Eilean Iarmain. The village lies just off the main road from Broadford to Armadale and is one of the most attractive on the Isle of Skye. You can read our dining review for Hotel Eilean Iarmain here.
Isleornsay became something of a resort when the steamers from Glasgow to Skye started stopping off here in the 1800s: and as a result became home to the island's first public toilets. Hotel Eilean Iarmain was built in 1888 as an inn, and the bar was added to the side in 1976. The village enjoys superb views past the Isle Ornsay lighthouse and across the Sound of Sleat to the mountains of Knoydart on the mainland. This really is an idyllic location, and most of the buildings in the village are related to the hotel in one way or another.
To enter the hotel is to take a step back in time to a world that elsewhere has now largely disappeared. The hall is dominated by a Golden Eagle with its wings outstretched above one doorway, and a large pair of antlers above another. Wood panelling features extensively, and the carpets are tartan. Public rooms include the Birlinn Restaurant, resplendent with its wood panelling, white tablecloths and superb views; a conservatory style extension which extends the dining room and shares the latter's wood panels and excellent artwork; and the hotel lounge. Here comfortable sofas and chairs are arrayed around the fire or in front of the window.
Connected to the rear of the hotel is the Praban Bar. Here you can enjoy bar food and a range of beers, whiskies, wines and other drinks in an attractive wood-lined setting. The bar serves as the hub of the local community and hosts a range of themed evenings, céilidhs and other functions.
There are 12 en suite guest bedrooms and four suites in all. Six of the rooms are located on the first floor of the hotel itself, while six more occupy the ground and first floor of the shoreside house opposite. Each room has a distinct character, and views are in various directions, though all the rooms share the timeless theme of the hotel itself and a sense of the Highland hospitality that underpins so much of what the hotel does. Some of the rooms are wood panelled, while one has a canopied bed dating back to the 1800s which started life in nearby Armadale Castle. Both doubles and twins are available.
A nearby stable block dating back to 1871 has been converted into four suites. Each is on two levels, with a sitting room and a bathroom on the ground floor and the bedroom upstairs. One of the suites has an additional single bedroom downstairs which is fully accessible. All of the suites enjoy superb and uninterrupted views across the Sound of Sleat to the mainland, and they have private parking.
One of the things particularly appreciated by guests seeking to escape the pressures of the day to day world is that the rooms in the hotel itself and the house do not have TVs, and mobile phone coverage remains limited in this part of Skye (we found the end of the nearby pier a good spot for a Vodafone signal...) The suites in the stable block are equipped with satellite TVs and are a better choice for those unable to live without technology on tap. Free WiFi is available in much of the main hotel.
Hotel Eilean Iarmain can host private dining functions or other events of up to 12 people in a private sitting room, and groups of up to 20 in a private dining room. Accommodation is available nearby for larger functions. The hotel is popular for small intimate weddings, and is licensed to hold wedding ceremonies on the premises.
Disabled access is available across the whole of the ground floor of the main building, including in the Praban Bar, though there is no specially adapted disabled toilet and there are five steps to the hotel's main entrance and three to the bar entrance. Guest rooms in the main hotel and in the house are largely inaccessible, both being old buildings with the inherent problem of stairs and narrow doorways, but one suite in the stable block has been adapted with an accessible bathroom and a downstairs bedroom.
We have to come clean and say that Hotel Eilean Iarmain has long been a personal favourite of ours. The setting is sublime and the hotel is one of a small number of 3 Star graded hotels across Scotland that far exceed the expectations raised by that level of grading. You can read our dining review for Hotel Eilean Iarmain here.