Following an overnight stay at the boutique Hotel Indigo in Glasgow my husband and I were keen to push on to the more remote Isle of Islay in the Hebrides. Whilst the Indigo building was steeped in history & art, it seemed to us to be the kind of place that would appeal to Glaswegian hen parties with plenty of cash to flash with its rather lurid, glitzy decor. Nevertheless, it was an experience for us & we had great fun people-watching. In addition, I was able to fit in a massage at the Tina Steenberg Health & Beauty Clinic.
Our sat nav caught us out though as she directed us via two ferries to Kennacraig. In my timings for the trip, I had calculated the time required to drive the long way round & I had not factored in delays waiting for ferries to arrive, load, depart etc. which, whilst making for a shorter distance to cover, makes for a longer overall time! So it was by the skin of our teeth that we caught the last ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askaig (via Caledonian MacBrayne) on which we were booked in order to check into the only five star place on the island: the Kilmeny Country House Hotel.
Once there, Andrew & I experienced the most delightful, relaxing stay. It was glorious. We were blessed with wonderful weather: warm sunshine, blue skies, with none of the rain that others reported they had at the time. The scenery was fantastic & the hotel blissful. Margaret Rozga, who runs it, has many years’ experience in the hospitality industry and this showed in both her attention to detail and the warm welcome she afforded us. Her husband runs the tranquil 300 acre farm in which the hotel is situated, about 4 miles from the ferry terminal at Port Askaig.
We were welcomed by a complimentary fresh pot of tea and a selection of home-made cakes (Margaret is a first class cook). Whilst breakfast is included in the rates, dinners should be pre-booked on the evenings when available. There are only 4 rooms and 1 suite available, all non-smoking, and early booking is strongly advised as this is a very popular establishment with a regular clientele that returns year after year. I believe this probably speaks more than even my glowing praises here! Our deluxe room was supremely comfortable, tastefully furnished, with excellent views across the garden and farmland. A selection of books is available for the bookworms amongst us (errrrrrrrr … that’ll be Andrew and I!). I was delighted to find that the ensuite bathroom was fitted with a television over the bath so I could watch the morning news whilst having a relaxing soak in fragranced bubbles.
The breakfasts were enormous and set us up for our various daily excursions. All the food is home-cooked and we watched in amazement as our fellow guests happily wrapped up some of the breakfast food on offer to eat later for lunch. Margaret seemed happy for people to do this and, again, it was testament to her excellent cookery skills. Naturally, the breakfasts tend to showcase Scottish produce and, indeed, I tried Stornaway finely milled black pudding for the first time here and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it (I tried not to think of the ingredients!).
We toured the whole Isle of Islay, visiting museums, a woollen mill patronised by the Queen, various and numerous malt whisky distilleries, ruined chapels & functioning churches, burial sites, gardens, and quaint little stores selling handmade chocolates, arts & crafts. For a small island, there is quite a bit to see and do. Margaret had left some binoculars in our room and was happy for us to take them with us on our excursions and I was touched by her trust in today’s sad, crime-ridden world. We spent many a happy hour with the binoculars spotting the massive variety of animal & bird life, most notably the wonderful seals playing in the sea, and admiring the gorgeous views. The evenings were spent dining at different hotel restaurants. We particularly recommend the Bridgend Hotel and the Port Charlotte Hotel. Each time we were not disappointed: the quality was excellent, but I do recommend booking in advance at these establishments as, again, they are extremely popular.
Our time at both Kilmeny Country House and the Isle of Islay was simply wonderful. It was an ideal romantic break for just the two of us and I totally recommend it to all my fellow Silver Travellers!