We arrive at Connel Ferry station three hours after leaving Glasgow and one of the most memorable train journeys we’ve ever taken. The scenery along the world-famous West Highland Line, of soaring hills, sprawling moors and peaceful lochs, is breathtaking.
Our taxi crosses the landmark Bridge Over The Atlantic, which links Eriska – a 300-acre privately owned island – with the mainland. At the end of a winding drive the 19th century baronial style house stands majestically before us.
The decor downstairs is welcoming, but not what we were expecting – it feels restrained; perhaps we should have worn our tweeds.
On entering our room, everything changes. It is much more modern.
The bathroom is fairly standard, but who cares when we’ve got that view. Our room overlooks the grounds, which stretch as far as the eye can see. Perfect for enjoying with a welcome cup of tea…
Since tea-making facilities aren’t provided, we ask room service to bring a tea tray to us. When it arrives, we kick back in the comfy armchairs to soak up the atmosphere. But the view is irresistible. I’m working on taking Monsieur 2 outside to explore.
There’s an ample supply of wellingtons for guests to use, and with our feet happily enveloped in rubber, we stride out towards the woods feeling like Bear Grylls on a Scottish safari.
We haven’t spotted any of the resident otters or eagles yet, and just as we’re cursing our luck, a red deer runs past us. We’re thrilled. Even more so when we reach Eriska’s highest point. Ben Nevis and the Morven Hills are all in view. It’s picture postcard perfect; Monsieur 2 says it’s the most beautiful landscape he’s ever seen, and I absolutely agree.
Winding our way back to the house we kick off our wellies and return to our room, taking a cup of warming coffee with us from the pot that’s always on hand in the lounge. There’s delicious home-made shortbread too!
Refreshed from a bracing and very powerful shower, we get ready to dinner, then go back outside to enjoy the incredible sunset.
Now that night’s fallen, the whole hotel has undergone an almost magical transformation! It may have felt staid earlier, but the light has softened and the log fire’s roaring; the bar is busy and there’s a gentle buzz – Eriska has become a plush enclave. The bagpiper playing outside the windows – a Friday night tradition – adds to the atmosphere. We almost break out into a highland dance.
Our stiff G&Ts finished, we ready for our food. The restaurant is a little hushed and formal at first but as other guests start to filter through and conversations flow it livens up. Our wine, which we ordered at the bar, awaits, elegantly decanted.
The food is wonderful, with an emphasis on Scottish meat and game; after excellent starters of white onion veloute for Monsieur 2 and veal sweetbreads – served with a delicious carrot puree – for me, we both choose Scottish venison with celeriac and braised cabbage for our main course.
The meat is melt-in-the-mouth tender and sweet, and it’s a generous portion too.
Monsieur 2’s dessert of praline parfait is a little too sweet for his liking but I have only the highest praise for the Farmhouse cheese trolley – one of the biggest and best kept selections I’ve seen anywhere! I choose among others an oozing, pungent Epoisses and a poky Isle of Mull cheddar; they’re a wonderful end to an especially enjoyable meal.
Adjourning for digestifs at the bar, we take a place by the French windows ready to take part in, drum roll please, Badger Watch. It’s another Eriska tradition, and every night staff put out bread and milk for the resident badgers to nibble and enjoy.
As fellow islanders gradually drift away we decide to call it a night too. Snuggling up close, we’re ready to fall asleep.
Sleeping soundly, we wake to a delivery of morning tea; have an invigorating shower, and dress for breakfast downstairs.
After proper porridge, served Scots-style with salt, we tuck into delicious breakfasts of sausages, eggs, bacon, haggis and black and white pudding, all locally-sourced.
With time to spare before our return journey (there are just three trains a day) we’ve left our bags with reception and walked to the beach – like the rest of the island, the peacefulness and sense of isolation is overwhelmingly beautiful. We think we’ll have a dip in the pool before we leave, too.
Leaving Isle of Eriska, Monsieur 2 and I look at each other and don’t need words to know what each other is thinking. Our time here has been really special, it’s luxury alright – not so much in the physical details but in its escape from modern life.
Owning a private island maybe a dream for most of us, but Isle of Eriska gives you the chance to live it, and that’s something to treasure.
Remember to mention les Deux Messieurs when you book, or ask us to book it for you.
Eriska is a gay friendly luxury hotel in Scotland. Reviewerd by Les Deux Messieurs
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