The Colonsay Hotel

Isle of Colonsay, Argyll, Scotland, United Kingdom Book from

Contemporary country interiors meld with Little House on the Prairie simplicity at this idyllic hideaway on a windswept Hebridean Isle
If it’s the sound of silence you’re seeking, then the Isle of Colonsay might be just what the doctor ordered. Midway between Islay and Mull in the Scottish Hebrides, warmed by the Gulf Stream and long summer days, this 15-square-mile island has just one hotel, which can fairly claim to be Britain's remotest (though there are regular ferries and occasional flights from Oban). Endless sandy beaches, sea cliffs, migratory birds and rolling cycle lanes draw families and outdoors types alike, as well as stressed-out city folk. But a word of warning: this island will ever so slowly steal you away, reminding you of how life can be lived in the slow lane, and the longer you stay, the harder it will be to return to the outside world.

The Colonsay Hotel, a charming white-washed country house dating from the 1750s, is the island's social hub: a place for locals, yachtsmen and visitors to relax and enjoy a dram or 2 in front of crackling log fires. With a restaurant serving fresh seafood and homegrown veg, a bar and log room, a guest living room and just 9 simple, arts-and-craftsy bedrooms, there's ample space in this old house for everyone. You can kick back with a good book or sit in the gardens and listen to the tranquil sounds of island life: birdsong, braying sheep and trickling streams by the single track road.


  • The island’s emerald beauty and pure sea air act like an assault on your senses
  • The hotel’s hidden nooks and crannies provide ample room to just be by yourself
  • You'll find deserted golden dunes at Kiloran Bay; well worth the 90-minute walk in each direction
  • The sunsets are magnificent - be camera-ready for the dramatic lights of the ‘golden hour’
  • It's great for families: kids stay for free and will love beach combing, swimming, surfing and walking


  • The island operates at its own pace and won’t be hurried; potentially frustrating for those who are used to a faster pace of life
  • Stormy weather occasionally means delayed or cancelled ferries, as well as slow roads on the drive to Oban (as we found out the hard way)
  • You're reliant on the hotel restaurant, as there are very few other eating options nearby

Best time to go

You take your chances with the weather whichever time of year you come, but the island enjoys a micro-climate, which is a few degrees warmer and drier than the mainland. We visited in early September and experienced glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. The Ceol Cholasa Folk Festival takes centre stage in late September, and the Island Spring Festival, with foraging, guided kayaking, cooking and art and craft workshops, takes place in May (it's advisable to get your booking in early for both these events). The hotel is normally closed in November, February and March.

Our top tips

The weather, though drier and sunnier than mainland Scotland, is still famously unpredictable. Bring books or games for rainy days, and sunscreen and light windproof clothes in summer.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Nov 2016 - 17 Mar 2017
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available


Checking into The Colonsay feels rather like wandering into a friend's characterful country pile - hang up your jacket, kick off your muddy wellies and head up to your room with glass of whisky in hand.

With 9 rooms in total, all located on the first floor, you might not find grand interior flourishes but what you will find are clean, comfortable rooms with high ceilings, sash windows and creaky floorboards. The original old island house charm has been pepped up with pretty fabrics by the likes of Designers Guild and Pierre Frey, as well as Egyptian cotton sheets and goose down pillows.

For dramatic sea views overlooking the Isle of Jura, choose a room at the front of the house: Cable Bay, Eilean Olmsa, Rubha Dubh, Ardskenish and Balnahard. The latter 2 are the largest and, in our opinion, worth the extra cost if available. If Fido is coming with you, there's a choice of 2 dog-friendly rooms: Whistlers and Dun Eibhinn. For solo travelers, Port Lobh offers cosy accommodation at the back of the house, although its bathroom is not ensuite (the only one which isn't). Pigs Paradise - named after nearby sea cliffs, in case you're wondering - will suit those travelling with children: its separate sitting room can be made up with 2 kids' beds.

It's worth mentioning that some of the twin rooms are on the cosy side, and most of the beds are standard width (rather than queen- or kingsize) pine frames; but this is a place which sets out to be comfy rather than grand, and we slept very well. All rooms have tea- and coffee-making facilities, but don’t expect to find the usual distractions like a minibar or TV (unless you're staying in Ardskenish, which has a flat-screen TV and a DVD player); bring a stack of good books instead.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • WiFi


There’s a distinct timetable to mealtimes at The Colonsay, which caters around the arrival and departure of the ferry. So let’s start with dinner, which is served in the restaurant about half an hour after you arrive at the hotel. Our menu was simple but sound, with a range of starters including Colonsay oysters, gravadlax and cucumber pickle, and carrot and tarragon soup. For the main course, I chose sirloin steak, chips and herb butter: delicious. With fresh vegetables brought in from the gardens at the Colonsay Estate and lobster caught by local fishermen, there's a real feeling of a thriving market economy underpinning the workings of this restaurant.

In the morning, breakfast is a relaxed affair, laid out on a long table in the restaurant. You help yourself to pastries, muffins and croissants topped off with delicious Colonsay honey. For an extra charge you can order a fully cooked Scottish breakfast.

Lunch is also served daily - you can try something lighter such as chicken breast, a house burger or homemade tarts; or grab a picnic and head out to the beaches and hills. But be aware that the local store is shut from lunchtime on Saturday till Monday morning.

If you fancy eating out, The Pantry above the pier in Scalasaig (a short walk away) serves simpler but much more affordable fare - fish and chips and salads, as well as excellent tea and cakes.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurant


  • Pack a picnic and head out to one of the island’s dozen deserted beaches - perfect for breezy walks, collecting shells and (if you're brave) a quick dip in summer

  • Try surfing and catch a wave at Kiloran Bay on the Atlantic side of the island (you'll need a wetsuit)

  • Fill your lungs with fresh air and enjoy a brisk walk over the hills of Balnahard; or sign up for a guided walk - the RSPB offers them most days from Kiloran beach

  • Visit the private gardens on the estate of Colonsay House, famous for their extensive collection of rhododendrons. They're open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays, and you can enjoy excellent lunches and afternoon teas (everything, including the bread, is baked on-site)

  • Rent a bike and try out the Colonsay 8-mile circuit. You’ll see the advert for bike rental at the local store

  • Go bird watching - Colonsay and Oronsay are home to 190 species of birds, including guillemots, cormorants and the occasional golden eagle

  • Play golf on the island’s 18-hole course (full membership is available to all) or have a game of tennis at the court at Colonsay House (open to hotel guests)

  • Visit the Colonsay Brewery and enjoy a bottle or 2 of its golden nectar

  • Organise a day of trout fishing, arranged through the Colonsay Fly-Fishing Association

  • Kick up your heels and attend one of the local Ceilidhs held on a Saturday night in the village hall

  • Cross at low tide to explore the 14th-century ruined priory on Oronsay, with its spectacular carved cross

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites


Families will feel welcome, this hotel has a big country house vibe. Cots can be provided in most rooms, and an extra bed can be added in Ardskenish. In good weather, Colonsay is an ideal place to introduce your kids to the delights of the outdoors - from beach combing to hill walking, swimming and surfing. Ardskenish has a TV and DVD player for those difficult, rainy days.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Ardskenish can take an extra bed; Pigs Paradise has a double room, plus a sitting room with space for 1 or 2 children

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots are available on request
  • High chairs
  • Plastic crockery and cutlery

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

Children's meals:

  • Kids menu
  • Half-portions

Kids Activities on site:

  • Games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Farm animals
  • Surfing


  • Airport: 5 minutes
  • Hospital: 5 minutes
  • Shop: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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