“ Sconser Lodge Hotel / Sconser / IV48 8TD / Tel: +44 (0)1478 650 333 / Fax: +44 (0)1478 650 386 / www.sconserlodge.co.uk. „
My partner being his usual disorganised self, we ended up going on holiday two days later than we had planned. The idea was to go to the Isle of Rum, but we left the room bookings so late that there were no available rooms in the two places to stay on the island. And so it was that we ended up on the Isle of Skye looking for somewhere to stay quite late in the evening. Most of the cheaper places we tried had no vacancies; luckily the Sconser Lodge Hotel had one room left. We had planned to stay in Bed and Breakfasts, but were prepared to pay a little more for the one night.
The hotel is situated on the main road from Broadford to Portree on the east side of the island; despite it being the main road, there is very little traffic at night, so no need to worry about being kept awake. The hotel, almost at sea level, looks across at the Isle of Raasay; in fact, the ferry to the island is a few hundred metres down the road. Although Skye is an island, it is quite easy to reach, now being attached to the mainland by a bridge from the Kyle of Lochalsh, which brings you to the road on which the hotel is located. Alternatively, the island can be reached via ferry from Mallaig. The hotel is well signposted on the approach to Sconser and is situated near to a golfcourse. The address is simply:
Sconser Lodge Hotel
Isle of Skye
Tel: 01478 650 333
For walkers and nature lovers, the hotel is a convenient base for anywhere on the island really; even for those without transport, there are nearby mountains at Sligahan just a little further north of the hotel.
The hotel was originally built in 1881 as a hunting lodge for Lord MacDonald. The building itself is not particularly attractive; it is covered in light brown gravel and has a castle-like turret at the front of the building, which looks somewhat out of place. However, all this is worth it for the view, which really is spectacular. There are tables and chairs at the front of the hotel. Unfortunately, it wasn't warm enough while we were there (the last week of May) to sit outside. It is also possible to walk down onto the beach - beach being a narrow strip of pebbles rather than the white sands of some of the islands - but then I don't think many people go to Skye to sunbathe!
There are eight rooms in all, each one with an ensuite bathroom. Our room was very clean and comfortable and was a good size. The normal facilities were all there: television, hairdryer and tea and coffee making equipment. The furniture was simple, but good quality and the decoration had clearly been done very recently without spoiling the hunting lodge image. The bathroom was well-stocked with soap and a rubber duck! There was both a bath and shower and a good supply of towels.
There is a room with a four poster bed available for the more romantic.
Food and drink
Dinner is available for both guests and non-residents and can be served in either the dining room or the bar. We chose not to eat at the hotel because it was quite pricey - about £13 for a main course and about £5 for starters and deserts - and chose instead to have a bar meal in Portree. However, the food did look delicious and according to some of the other guests was excellently prepared and displayed. Dishes included lamb, local venison and seafood such as scallops, crabs and mussels. All the food was based on local produce and so changes according to the season.
Breakfast the next morning was a typical Scottish breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding and haggis and was quite delicious. I usually steer clear of black pudding because of what it is made from, but the local pudding is something else, very subtle, yet tasty. Toast, cereal and fruit is also available.
We did have a couple of drinks in the bar before bed in front of a beautiful open fire. The bar is stocked with a wide range of drinks, including Skye real ale and lager, which was fabulous, and a wide range of whiskies, including some that were quite old and horribly expensive. There were a wide selection of wines too, none of which were local, for obvious reasons - I don't think grapes would take too kindly to the environment!
The best views are from the dining room and bar, which have large open windows and allow you to eat and drink while soaking up the view.
The hotel is owned and run by an English couple (at least they sounded English), Phil and Debbie, and as far as we could tell, they did everything themselves. Nothing was too much trouble for them; Phil in particular was very welcoming and happy to give any advice he could. The hotel is also occupied by a dog and a cat - the latter, Tabitha, is fond of leaping up on to people's shoulders and sitting there purring. Phil and Debbie keep the animals out of the dining room and bar when food is being served.
We paid £95 for the night. By mainland standards, this is expensive, but for one night, we didn't mind too much - it was worth paying the extra for the views and the comfortable stay. In any case, even the Bed and Breakfasts are about £30 per person and therefore £60 for a night.
For a one night stay, this was a real treat. We could not have afforded to stay there any longer than that. I would certainly consider going back if I'm ever any better off though. The only criticism that I have is to do with the outside of the building; but I'm sure there are regulations that limit Phil and Debbie from doing much with it. That's a shame, because I really like the white facades of most of the other houses on the island. However, it's a small price to pay for the luxurious comfort available at this hotel.
The hotel is licensed for civil marriage ceremonies and can cater for up to 35 guests for food. If and when I get married, I would certainly love to get married somewhere like this.
If you're planning to visit Skye, then I can highly recommend this hotel. However, I would recommend booking - we were lucky that there was a room available, but with only eight rooms, I'm sure that there aren't many vacancies during the main holiday season of June to August.