More about Isle of Barra Hotel
Great location, average hotel.
I started my tour of the Western Isles on Barra and, knowing that my initial journey from home would take me 20 hours, I elected to stay for 2 nights. I'm glad I did as Barra is a beautiful island and should not be rushed. On my late evening arrival at the hotel I was checked in and greeted most courteously and made to feel very welcome.
As I made my way along the corridor to my room I was slightly amused to notice that the walls were simply breeze block with a coat of paint. I was slightly less amused when I found that the walls of my room were just the same! Surely a skimming of plaster wouldn't cost the earth and would make the rooms much more welcoming. As others have stated the rooms are a little tired and dated and could do with a bit of a refurb.
There was a desk in my room but no chair, which made it impossible to use as it was too far to reach from the end of the beds. I did ask for a chair the following morning and one was provided without question.
I didn't return to the hotel on the second night until shortly after 8PM, as I had problems with my car and had to wait for a local mechanic to come out and fix (but that's another story!). Having not eaten since breakfast I was looking forward to a good evening meal only to be told that the restaurant closed at 8, but that if I asked in the bar downstairs they might do something for me. 8 o'clock seems a little early for a retaurant to close, most serve until 9. In the bar I was told again that they stopped doing food at 8 but after I explained my predicament they agreed to help. I ordered beefburger and chips, not the three course meal I was looking for but at least it was something! The food was ok, but came with a whopping price tag of over £7! For a burger and a few chips?
Having said that, the breakfast was very good, with possibly the best scrambled egg I have ever had, and the views from the retaurant and lounge are magnificent. All the staff I came into contact with were friendly and efficient, if only the rooms were better value for money and a little more attention was paid to detail then this hotel would get top marks.
This was my last stay after travelling through the Hebrides. Came across this wonderful unique building filled with little treasures. How interesting a real beach hotel. I was greeted by very friendly staff and a dog called billy who escorted me to the beach. The breakfast was the best I've ever had and was delighted with a choice of the freshest sea food available anywhere in the UK. Found my room most comfortable and was delighted to be offered to watch a dvd wow what a selection on a rainy day great little cinema room. Barra is unspoilt and such a delight will be back with friends to this quirky hotel as a two day visit wasn't enough.
always my first choice for Barra
As some other reviews have said, the building is a little tired, and the meals are a bit pricey. However, I have found this to be true of the other hotels in Barra too. (it's part and parcel of being in such a remote localtion I think). At least it was true when I last stayed in another hotel in Barra, which was a couple of years ago. Since staying in the Isle of Barra Hotel, as a photographer, I wouldn't stay any where else.
the location is simply unsurpassed. It's on the west coast which means you get to watch amazing sunsets with the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the rocks. I would suggest it's best to watch it outside. although the lounge is lovely, you get to hear the ocean roaring into a wee sea cave and spouting back out again. it's also a great place to watch the stars as it is otherwise so dark at night that you can see thousands of stars that you can't see in urban areas.
the owners, and indeed the rest of the staff, are very friendly, and have made me feel entirely at home.
as for Barra itself, it's a wonderful island. It's so different from the rest of Scotland, has amazing beaches, and even the weather is better!
I should have had more faith
This was our final night in the hebrides before catching the ferry back to Oban and home to what we call civilisation, but I do find the heberidean lifestyle (at least in the summer) much more appealing.
The location of the hotel is superb, looking out over a sandy beach to the open sea. The nature of the building has been mentioned in previous reviews. OK it is not traditional Scottish Victoriana, but with it's eclectic mixture of Scottish and African Decor you will not be bored.
There is a large lounge with panoramic views across the bay. The fish resteraunt provided a good dinner at a reasoable cost.
Last check-in for the ferry was 8 45 am, and I was concerned that breakfast service did not start until 8am. The hotel was full. Most guests were wanting the same ferry. I did not see how it could be done.
I should have had more faith. As soon as we sat at out table a piping hot full scottish breakfast was placed in front of us. An absolutely delicious way to start the day.
The ferry terminal is only a couple of minutes down the road so I even had time for conversation with the hotels charming owner.
Swam with seals
I visited BARRA at the end of a months trip to the outer Hebrides for some sailing and wind sports.
Following a tip from the owner and his family. I took a wetsuit a mile or two round the coast. And swam with seals for a couple of hours on a deserted beach, in glorious sunshine.
After that, I could'nt careless what the hotel was like, I was well worth the trip.
A Magical Stay...
We stayed for four days in March, before the season’s official opening date of 1st April, and there was only one other guest. We were made as welcome as family friends and felt privileged to be there. This is as far from a suburban hotel as you can get – an idiosyncratic building that in some ways shows its age and is in the process of progressive improvement, but which meanwhile is being inhabited and adapted by an expressive, witty, intelligent and artistic family who love it with a passion and are making it uniquely theirs. So it isn’t ‘contemporary’; its decor is not fashionably neutral – it reflects its own past and the very different pasts of its owners; it is quirky, surprising, delightful and even sublime. Because of this, it is also imperfect and has some rough edges, but if anything isn’t as you want it all you have to do is ask and the family will do whatever they can to put things right. The bathrooms are a bit ‘seventies, but they are spotless, everything works and there is copious and instant hot water. I did find the hotel a little cold everywhere in a Hebridean March, and we had one very cold night before we’d mastered the thermostat in our room, but after that the room was blissfully warm. But we were pre-season guests and the hotel wasn’t yet fully operational, and we’d been given special very-reasonable rates to reflect this. Teresa and Guy have great plans for the development of the hotel, and we look forward to monitoring their progress and wish them every success. We love the people and the place dearly and had a wonderful stay, and we look forward to our next visit.
A tonic for the soul....
I went to the "IOB" in March 2009 after hearing many good thing's not only the hotel & Staff but the Island and it's people and my god where they right!
The Island is magical - a real tonic for the soul, and the people at the IOB bring you back to basic's and make you remember that what you need in life can't be brought - it comes from good food, good beer!! amazing people, laughter, fresh air, music and walks on the most spectular beaches. - The island itself wraps around you and envolpes you like a blanket.
The Isle of Barra Hotel hogs the prime location overlooking the ocean, the views from the IOB's restaurant are truly spectacular, and the food is not bad either!!
The owners Teresa & Guy are fabulous host's and their passion for the IOB and the Island is contagious. The made me feel like one of the family and nothing was to much trouble - from taking me into town - to organizing a new flight for me to go home. I will always be truly grateful to them both and thank them for the nights by the cosy fire!
Last but not least the IOB bar and the amazing landlady JOAN (who is Teresa and Guy's daughter) the lady with the dirty laugh and the zest for life - what can I say..Thank you for the great music - the game's of pool - the dancing and for taking me to see the Vattersea Boys. What a night!!
Amazing palce - amazing people and an amazing find..... Can't wait to see you all again!!
Unforgettable experience, great beach, great food, great people
We got married a couple of days before our stay at the Isle of Barra hotel and we were looking forward to a relaxing holiday on the island. We were impressed straight away upon being picked up from the cockle beach airport by Guy's friendliness and knowledge of the island. We were also extremely warmly received by Teresa and family, including the friendly labrador. We instantly felt at home, and were shown the restaurants, lounge and the fantastic cinema where you can watch a film and eat popcorn on a rainy day. Our room was on the upper floor with a fantastic view of the beach and we never tired of the views or the sound of the waves as we slept. We were also impressed by the hotel's environmental policies and the design of the hotel was in keeping with its surroundings. We stayed for four nights and ate in the hotel's a la carte restaurant on three evenings. The restaurant enjoys fantastic sea views which was ideal for a relaxed evening, and the food was of the highest quality. My wife particularly loved the locally hand-dived scallops which were the biggest we'd ever seen. In fact, a Scottish cook book we picked up the day we left featured this very hotel's scallops so they are well known. We'll have to come back in the summer next time so we can sample the fish restaurant which was due to open later in the season. The staff were all extremely helpful and versatile, particularly when we had to rush to catch our flight and the kitchen staff supplied us with a doggy bag for the trip.
The beach itself is incredible, we had a number of walks along it and across the machair to the headland and it is stunning from all angles. No matter the weather the fresh air is completely invigorating, as is the two mile walk into the small harbour town of Castlebay where we enjoyed a fairly riotous evening listening to the local band the Vatersay Boys.
All in all we had a great time and we found the owners to be fantastic hosts.
Easter break in the outer Hebrides
Amazing position within sight and earshot of Atlantic breakers. Stunning views from the restaurant. Very welcoming staff. Seafood to die for.
Rooms in need of renovation which I know is in the pipeline.