Coillabus, Islay

The Isle of Islay is the most southernly of the Inner Hebrides. Partly flanked on one side by Jura, it is vastly different from its near neighbour with the flatter terrain much more suited to agriculture. With a population of over 3,000, you can expect to meet some of the friendliest people in the country. However, remember that it is pronounced Eye-la – you’d best make sure you get it right or some of the otherwise friendly locals might get a bit offended!

One of the turf-roofed ecoluxury lodges at Coillabus would be a comfortable and stylish base from which to explore this gem in the crown jewels of Scotland’s islands. We spoke to owner, Hester Ross, about what makes Islay such a special place for her.

The views from Coillabus look stunning. Islay is a beautiful part of the world, isn’t it?
Yes, Islay is an island of huge contrasts. The Oa peninsula where Coillabus is situated is one of the higher parts. One  lodge looks over the Oa RSPB Reserve towards Orsay lighthouse. This lodge has terrific sunset views from the hot tub. Our other lodge looks across the sea to Kintyre. Especially good sunrises from here.

Islay is known as the ‘Queen of the Hebrides’. What makes it so special?
Where do I start? The island has got so much to offer – the ancient Norses, the Celts and the Lords of the Isles all made their way here – I’m not sure whether it was the sandy beaches, the great low level walks or our distilleries that attracted them. But our guests tell us that it’s the people that make their stay so special – we’re famous for our friendly Islay wave.

luxury, eco, lodge, Islay, Coillabus, turf roof

What would you suggest would be the highlights of a holiday to Islay?
Of course you’ll want to stay at Coillabus, take a long walk along the big Strand whatever the weather, Lunch at Ardbeg distillery taking in a tour at Laphroiag, Lagavulin or Ardbeg, then go on up the road and pay yoir respects to our Celtic Cross at KIldalton. If it’s a wet day there’s lots to do indoors even if you don’t like whisky – you’ll find serious retail therapy at the Celtic Gouse in Bowmore (and good coffee too) and at the Islay Woollen Mill.

Interior, Coillabus, Islay

What is the one thing that every visitor to Islay should do?
Visit Finlaggan, the ancient seat of the Lords of the Isles. Magic.

Are there any hidden gems that you would recommend?
Find the path down to Killeyan Beach at the end of the Oa, sit very still on a rock that looks like a Henry Moore sculpture and allow yourself to be spotted by the seals and wild goats.


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