There would be wine to drink and sofas to lounge on. At the mouth of Loch Creran, only a few miles from Oban, the Isle of Eriska is poised between land and loch and is accessed via a charming, rustic bridge. Avid Instagrammers would have a field day.
It’s an actual little island, all 350 acres of it and crossing the bridge at dusk, encountering the twinkling hotel lights seemed like the perfect time to arrive.
There’s something very Jane Austen about pulling up onto a sweeping gravelled driveway in front of a beautiful 19 th century mansion, less so our cumbersome, over-excited disembarkment, with pup in tow, but if our welcome party witnessed our clumsy entrance into the glorious oak panelled hall, they expressed nothing but a hearty, warm Scottish welcome.
Our room was in the main hotel, the Big House, a huge, luxurious room with a sumptuous seating area, gleaming bathroom, Molton Brown toiletries and stunning views across the perfectly manicured croquet lawn, and in direct contrast, to the rugged mixed woodland beyond.
There are other types of self-catering accommodation available on the island, with outdoor hot tubs making it a great choice for get-togethers or celebrations with family and friends.
The hotel restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in September 2016 for the third year running which makes deciding where to eat at Eriska a no-brainer. We ate from the four-course dinner menu, like kings.
The menu changes on a daily basis and offers a diverse selection of fresh and seasonal produce.
We dined on locally sourced fish, delicious seasonal vegetables and mouth-watering desserts with an exquisite accompanying wine as suggested by our knowledgable and patient waiter, the list is extensive! The cheese trolley at the hotel is legendary and was wheeled our way laden with its tantalising selection of over 40 varieties, making it impossible to turn away.
After such a decadent feast, partaking in a little activity the next day seemed advisable and at Eriska, there’s no shortage of things to do. Clay pigeon shooting, archery, fishing, croquet on the lawn, and a six-hole golf course are just some of the attractions on offer.
There’s even an indoor sports hall for the dedicated sports buff. All very impressive but we opted for none of the above and went for a long walk in search of an otter, followed by a relaxing treatment in the Stables spa.
The walk along seaweed-strewn beaches encircling the island was exhilarating and the massage at the spa, indulgent and expertly delivered, topped off with a light bite at the Deck restaurant above the spa area, less formal than the main restaurant but offering tempting dishes to select from.
The Isle of Eriska is truly beautiful. The west highland scenery is breathtaking and the hotel itself is elegant and welcoming with its log fires and deep sofas. It has weight and gravitas but there is no pomp and ceremony here.
This is largely down to the hotel team who are attentive without being overbearing, sharing knowledge and advice about everything from the food and wine selection to walking trails, activities and obviously, otter spotting. They leave out wee treats in these parts for the habitually anti-social badgers, enticing them to dine in the grounds, providing another perfect photo opportunity for guests.
There’s a toasty hot water bottle secreted in beds as part of the nightly turn down service and you only have to think about ordering afternoon tea and by their powers of telepathy, it is delivered to your chosen spot.
But above all, you get a real sense that nothing is too much trouble. The hotel staff want you to love Eriska and seem quietly confident that you will.
This time round we didn’t see an otter, they must have heard we were coming and decided not to play ball. But what we did see of Eriska, we loved. The setting, the hotel itself, the food and the very professional and attentive team there who could not have done more to make our stay a truly memorable one.
I’m afraid dear Eriska, we will be back. Like it or not.
Isle of Eriska, Hotel, Spa & Island
Reservations: 01631 720371