Coillabus

Isle of Islay, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom Book from Book from £240 per night

Unpretentious but luxurious eco-lodges for 2-4 with alfresco bathtubs and saunas, perched high on a hill overlooking the Oa peninsula in Islay
You can't get much more off-the-beaten track than the beautiful Oa peninsula in the south of Islay - a large Scottish island known as the Queen of the Hebrides. So if looking for a romantic bolthole, a group/family holiday or some time alone, Coillabus - a discreet enclave of 2 stone-walled lodges with sloping turfed roofs - is an escape to the depths of the wilds.

Designed to blend harmoniously into the hillside, the lodges offer a wealth of high-spec features, warmly welcomed in this windswept location. There are top-of-the range galley kitchens with energy-saving appliances; sleek Hans Grohe fixtures in the bathrooms; outdoor double-ended tubs, and saunas with views to the island. And just to nudge the comfort factor up a few notches, geothermal underfloor heating keeps you toasty. A Mhoine Bheag (the little moor), where we stayed, is a little more secluded and overlooks Glenastle; An Cnocan Dubh (the little black hill) enjoys sweeping views of Kintyre. Whichever you choose (both are identically configured), you’ll find curving walls, a double-height open-plan living room with retro Ercol furnishings, a bespoke Spanish couch and a wood-burner. Each has 2 spacious bedrooms (kingsize and super-kingsize or twin), with luxuriously ensuite bathrooms with double-ended tubs, plus toiletries and robes. And should you have any problems, the housekeeper lives 5 minutes away.

Highs

  • Switching off your mobile and pulling a chair up to the curved window to watch eagles swoop and flow in the gulfstream whilst you warm your feet on a sheepskin rug
  • Exploring Islay, Scotland's 5th largest island, home to sweeping beaches, rugged landscapes for hiking and biking, whisky distilleries, birdlife and fascinating history
  • Looking out over the island while in your sauna, knowing there’s no chance of anyone looking in
  • Stepping out of the walk-in raindance showers straight onto heated Caithness slab floors
  • We visited in December and decided not to brave the outdoor tub, but imagine it would be one of the high points of staying at Coillabus

Lows

  • A journey to get to (but that's half the point), and you’ll be isolated without a car
  • You may want to bring some supplies with you as the shops are 6.5km away
  • When draining the bath, spring water leaves a residue behind, something which might come as a shock to city dwellers
  • With 8 distilleries to visit, be prepared for a hangover!
  • Note that the entire stay must be paid for 8 weeks in advance, please check the cancellation policy

Best time to go

If you are seeking a peaceful, relaxing time, Coillabus is wonderful throughout the year. We arrived in December, during the depths of winter, and didn't leave the accommodation for 2 days due to gale-force winds, but were perfectly happy. If you visit in summer, you'll better access the activities offered on the island.

Our top tips

Pack carefully, as you'll be in a remote location on an island, a drive away from shops although there is a supermarket in the village. If you're flying, you get a free baggage allowance up to 20kg.

There are no street lights so it's advisable that you return to the lodge before darkness falls. There's a torch in each lodge and the housekeeper is a 5-minute walk away, should you need her.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Self-catering Eco Lodges
  • 2 lodges for 2-4
  • Self-catering (chef on request), breakfast provided first day
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Jacuzzi
  • Laundry Service
  • Laundry room in each lodge
Room:

Rooms

Each lodge is identically laid out with an open-plan living area and 2 ensuite bedrooms, suitable for 2 couples or a family/group of 4 as one of the Hypnos zip-link beds can be separated into twin beds. Alternatively, book both lodges as an ideal getaway for a big group, or book a reduced rate for just 2 people.

Bedrooms are decorated simply with reclaimed oak floors, and bespoke touches like the lodge’s very own Coillabus tweed, which has been made into blinds and throws. On the beds, you’ll find the highest quality free-range goosedown pillows and comforting British-sheep wool duvets. If you prefer a firm mattress, choose the bedroom on the same side as the sauna.

There’s ample storage for your belongings and if you run out of space, there are additional cupboards in your laundry room, right next to the front door. The owner, Hester Ross, has gone to considerable lengths to ensure every little detail has been taken care of, right down to the Islay Single Malt Myrtle soaps and shampoos supplied by local soap maker, Spirited Soaps.

The huge ensuite bathrooms, with soothing desert dune ceramic tiles and double-height ceilings, have gorgeous walk-in showers and double-ended tubs. With ‘soft as a cloud’ organic towels and robes to wrap yourself in plus heating underfoot, it somehow feels like you're relaxing in the environs of your very own Island Spa. And you get a selection of the toiletries to take home, as a thanks for booking through i-escape.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Bathrobes
  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player
  • Fireplace
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Jacuzzi
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tumble dryer
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

At Coillabus, you’ll have the pleasure of cooking in a brightly lit, well-thought out space. Each lodge has a simple galley-style kitchen, which includes an impressive American-style fridge/freezer and a stainless steel double-oven with hob. There’s a dishwasher and cupboards and drawers stocked with every plate and utensil you could possibly require.

You'll find a welcome breakfast basket waiting for you, which contains fresh orange juice, Scottish muesli, oatcakes, local eggs, Ramsay’s bacon, chocolate biscuits, Ma McKinnon’s whisky marmalade (made on Islay), and a bottle of fizz. Basic ingredients (salt, pepper, oils, herbs, tea and coffee) are supplied. The village supermarket stays open until 8-10pm, 6.5km away, so you can stock up on other groceries, and a shopping service is possible - just put your order in with Hester. There is also a local community garden, where you can pick your own salads and vegetables; directions to which are provided in your directions after booking.

On those occasions when you’d prefer not to cook, you can order a Taste of Islay 3-course meal by French chef Francois Bernier. Using local ingredients, you choose from freshly-caught lobster or venison and watch as the meal is prepared in front of you. The chef also caters to individual dietary requirements, just be sure to give plenty of advance notice.

If you have the use of a car, there are nearby restaurants and cafes: you can visit the café restaurant at Ardbeg Distillery or book a table at the nearby Islay Hotel. More recommendations await you in your lodge.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Chef on request
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Dishwasher
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
  • Welcome hamper
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Take a cliff walk or head to The Big Strand : an isolated 7-mile golden beach ideal for surfing and paddling with kids - each lodge has local beach and activity info
  • Enjoy a captivating wildlife cruise through the Sound of Islay with Islay Marine Charters. Or, go trout fishing, a licence is supplied for the nearby angling club
  • Sacrifice sleep and experience an unforgettable stargazing session: awaken before dawn, grab yourself a coffee then drink in the awe-inspiring views. Alternatively, soak a deux under the stars in your double-ended outdoor bathtub. It fills in a jiffy with piping-hot fresh clean water heated from the air-source system
  • Practically opposite is RSPB bird reserve, The Oa - you could see chough, golden eagle, hen harrier, twite, linnet and snow bunting
  • Don’t leave the island without sipping ‘a wee dram’ at each of the island’s distilleries: Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Cad Ila, Bruichladdich, Ardbeg, Bunnahabhain, Bowmore, Kilchoman. Alternatively, take part in a Washbacks to Slingbacks Tour, described as a ‘wonderful introduction to Islay Distilleries, Malts and Magic’
  • Visit Islay Woollen Mill Co., the only slubbing mill left in the world (whose fabrics have been seen by millions in Braveheart and Rob Roy), then stock up on the finest cashmere and woolly socks
  • Visit The American Monument at Mull of Oa: a memorial to sailors lost at sea during the First World War
  • Visit a local golf course or arrange a sunset photographic tour with Islay Stalking, where you’ll shoot deer with your camera
  • Enjoy an in-room massage or ask about the spa treatment packages

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Photography
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Stargazing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Whisky Tasting
  • Wildlife

Kids

The lodges are an ideal place to bring older children; there's plenty of space to let them roam free in an isolated environment. The well-equipped kitchens make it easy to rustle up family meals; there's a microwave, fridge-freezer and dishwasher; a grocery shop can be done in advance of your stay and chilled or frozen meals can be provided with advance notice. Each lodge has a laundry room and bathrooms have a tub and separate shower. There's an information file in each lodge about local activities and sights including beaches.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

An Cnocan Dubh is best for families (and dogs are allowed); A Mhoine Bheag is a bit more secluded and intended for romantic retreats, but both lodges can fit 4 in total or 5 if you have a baby, too. The second bedroom can be made up as a twin. Baby cots are free to borrow.

Babysitting:

A local babysitter can be arranged with advance notice.

Baby equipment:

  • Highchair
  • Childproof nursery tablecloth
  • Babyproof plates and cutlery

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Board games
  • Rainy day pack

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Visit the Singing Sands ‘bucket and spade’ beach
  • Bird watching at the RSPB reserve opposite the lodge. Look carefully and you might see Golden Eagles swooping in the wind and a resident family of chough birds
  • Pony trekking and cycling on the quiet, island roads
  • Pitch-and-putt course and tennis in Port Ellen

Families Should Know:

There are cattle on the nearby farm, and parents should keep an eye on exuberant kids when walking on the cliffs. Children are not permitted to climb onto the turf roofs.

Distances:

  • Airport: 10 minutes
  • Hospital: 8 minutes
  • Shop: 8 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Coillabus is situated on the Oa peninsula, the most southerly point of the Isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides off the southwest coast of Scotland. It is a 10-minute drive from the ferry port at Port Ellen and approximately 50 minutes from Port Askaig. If you're coming by car+ferry, make sure you book your crossing well in advance in high season. As a guide to distances, it is about a 2.5 hour drive from Glasgow to the embarkation ferry port, Kennacraig.

By Air
Flybe franchise partner Loganair Ltd operates the only service between Glasgow and Islay, twice every weekday and once every Saturday and Sunday. Flight duration is 40 minutes.

From the Airport
A taxi from the airport cost £10 in 2012. You can also hire a car at the airport.

By Car and Ferry
From Glasgow, take the A82 to Loch Lomond then turn onto the A83 at Tarbert. From Tarbert follow the signs for Cambeltown. Be aware that the ferry terminal of Kennacraig is 7km from Tarbert. From Kennacraig, take the Caledonian MacBrayne crossing to Islay. The ferry operates twice daily and depending on the weather takes 2hrs 15 min. The morning sailing arrives at Port Ellen in the south of the island and the afternoon sailing arrives at Port Askaig in the north.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.com

More on getting to the UK and getting around

Airports:

  • Islay Airport (Glenegadale) 7.0 km

Other:

  • Beach 4.5 km
  • Shops 6.5 km
  • Restaurant 6.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We had an amazing stay at Coillabus. Absolutely beautiful view, very peaceful, lovely lodge that surpassed our expectations. Great hikes (and whiskey tastings) around the island...we'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a relaxing break from busy everyday life.

9/10,

Wonderful island and lovely accommodation.

8/10,

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