The west coast of Scotland is full of hidden surprises, none better than those to the north of Oban. In beautiful Benderloch lies the Isle of Eriska, linked by a short causeway by a minor, private road to just below Barcaldine Castle.
On the Island is the exclusive Isle of Eriska Hotel in a converted country house, possibly the only one in Scotland on its own private island.
The hotel was built in 1884 as a private home and was bought by the Buchanan-Smith family, together with the island, in 1973. They converted it and opened it as a hotel for six months of the year in 1974. It stayed that way until 1994, when it then opened – as it still does today – for eleven months, remaining closed in January for refurbishment. It offers a wide choice of activities from brisk hill waking to relaxing by the fire with a local single malt!
Elizabeth Todd, Marketing and Sales Assistant, explains, “We offer luxurious 5-star accommodation with a view to match and pride ourselves on the quality of the service that we offer.
This has been recognised by the Awards that we have won, including The Taste of Scotland Award from the Scottish Thistle Awards, an Environmental Award from the Highland & Islands Food & Drink Awards and the Eat Scotland Gold Award from Visit Scotland. Our restaurant is also rated as 3AA Rosettes.”
The Hotel prides itself on its restaurant and has a rather unusual approach to its daily menus. Because it makes a point of obtaining as much of its supplies from local producers, the choice on offer can vary from day to day and so the daily menu is not set until an assessment is made of what is available.
The reasons for this are manifold but principally because it supports the local suppliers and also to reduce the carbon footprint. So, for example, the sea food comes from within 50 miles along the coast from Oban to Mull and Mallaig. The hotel also makes use of its own garden to produce a large proportion of its salads and 90% of its herbs. The pork is produced specifically for the hotel by a farmer in nearby Kinlochlaich.
Another speciality is the Farmhouse Cheese Trolley, which features a wide range of Scottish, English and Continental cheeses. The aim is to make this a course of the meal in its own right. The Hotel also runs a Wine weekend twice a year, again featuring the cheeses.
Back to Elizabeth, “We are currently building a multi-purpose sports hall which is due to open in February. We already have a Spa and a golf course, this will enable us to offer sporting facilities all year round, ranging from table tennis to archery and badminton to indoor golf. In addition to the main hotel with its 16 rooms, within 25 yards we have five single bedroom spa suites and two 2-bedroom suites with their own private gardens.”
For further information please telephone 01631 720371 or visit www.eriskahotel.co.uk