“Contemporary country interiors meld with Little House on the Prairie simplicity at this idyllic hideaway on a windswept Hebridean Isle”
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.
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.
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.
Ardskenish can take an extra bed; Pigs Paradise has a double room, plus a sitting room with space for 1 or 2 children
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking