Accommodation on Islay: A Top Stay at The Bowmore House
In the village of Bowmore, on the Hebridean island of Islay in Scotland, a grand, tall house sits proudly next to the water. Raised on a slight hill up from the pavement, the building is hard to ignore, towering over its neighbours and all that walk by. Its white-washed exterior walls are accented with beige detail around the windows, and at the top the number ‘1893’ are enclosed in a circle, declaring the house’s establishment.
When I pulled up outside on a misty day in November, stopping beside the sign out front that reads ‘The Bowmore House’, I was taken aback by the building’s stately beauty, and excited for what I might find inside.
The Bowmore House’s reputation preceded my arrival at both the hotel and even on the island it calls home. While I was in contact with Andrew, the owner, before I got to Islay, I explained which ferry I was due to catch and the time I would reach the house. Shortly thereafter, he sent me suggestions for two distilleries (for which Islay is famous) I should visit near the port, and guides to the island and its legendary whisky heritage.
What’s more, as I chatted to the staff at one of these distilleries, Bunnahabhain, I mentioned my staying at Bowmore House. “You’ve made an excellent choice,” the man behind the counter told me. “No one will look after you on Islay better than Andrew and Alison.”
Over the course of the next three days, I found out what he meant. I was warmly greeted by the couple and shown up to my room. An immaculately-made bed caught my eye first, followed by the views across the water from the window, the stocked tea set on the side, and the white, sparkling bathroom.
I will say that the furnishings and amenities in the rooms at The Bowmore House are perhaps not at the very high end of luxury (nor do they claim to be), but they are unarguably modern and comfortable. My room – one of only five – was spacious and warm, the ideal place to fall into after long days of exploring. I slept soundly and undisturbed each night in my bed; the village, and entire island, is remote and tranquil with no sounds at night to bother even the lightest of sleepers.
What The Bowmore House certainly can pride itself on with top standards is their excellent service and hospitality. Andrew and Alison are among the most welcoming, professional and helpful hosts I’ve had the pleasure of staying with, offering that perfect balance between giving their guests enough space to relax and enjoy their stay, and being on-hand to help with arrangements.
Andrew’s advice extended well beyond his initial emails, and he helped me plan out my time on Islay expertly and with evident enthusiasm for his home. He booked a Bowmore Distillery tour for me and offered countless tips on the route I could drive around the island to explore all of its wild corners.
These conversations usually took place over my hearty breakfast each morning. An efficient and quick form that guests fill out the previous day allows you to pick exactly the items you want on your plate, and at what time. This allowed for nothing to be wasted, which I find often happens with overly-large B&B breakfasts.
I cleaned up my plate of plump sausages, crisp bacon, tender mushrooms and eggs scrambled to perfection with much satisfaction, impressed with the quality. Other continental breakfast options are also available, but you should certainly try a cooked full works at The Bowmore House at least once.
The location of The Bowmore House makes it one of the most convenient options for accommodation on Islay. Bowmore village itself is not only located in the centre of the island, but is also home to one of the eight distilleries you’ll find here, plus pubs and restaurants to entertain you in the evenings. All the amenities you could want are a short walk away, and here you are in prime position to discover all Islay has to offer.
That and so much more make The Bowmore House a shining example of outstanding hotels in the region. Although the rooms and house are without doubt welcoming and comfortable, what makes this B&B truly stand out is Andrew and Alison. Their honest and passionate approach to hospitality left me wanting for nothing more during my stay on Islay, and The Bowmore House would be my first recommendation for anyone taking a trip here.