From the Channel Islands to Scotland’s Rannoch Moor: Discover the British Isles’ dozen most delightfully remote hotels
- Little Sark, on the Channel Islands, has a Toytown feel with bicycles and horses and carts standing in for cars
- Hell Bay is England’s most westerly hotel and is made up of 25 chalets on Bryher on the Isles of Scilly
- Arkell House is on Rathlin Island, off the coast of County Antrim. It has three-brightly coloured rooms
From hotels on tiny, car-free islands to forts in the middle of the sea, there are some fantastic places to really feel cut off from the rest of the world.
And best of all, they don’t need to cost the earth.
La Sablonnerie, Little Sark, Channel Islands
On the tiny island of Sark, pictured, in the Channel Islands, bicycles and horses and carts stand in for cars
Remote rating: Arrive on the tiny island of Sark and it already feels as if you’ve time-travelled back a century – bicycles and horses and carts stand in for cars, and there’s a Toytown feel to the place, with its dinky stone prison and red fire cart. Little Sark, across a narrow isthmus known as La Coupée, is one step on in the seclusion stakes.
The hotel: La Sablonnerie Hotel, run by the charismatic Elizabeth Perrée, is unashamedly old-fashioned – you won’t find televisions or wi-fi in the 22 rooms but you will be able to explore a quintessential English country garden.
The food is unforgettable, particularly the local lobster and scallops.
Cost: B&B stays cost from £97.50pp a night (sablonneriesark.com).
The White House Hotel, Herm, Channel Islands
The gloriously sandy Shell Beach on Herm, which is 20 minutes from Guernsey on the ferry. Herm is a car-free island
Remote rating: It may be only 20 minutes by ferry from Guernsey, but Herm, which is just one-and-a-half miles by half a mile, could be in another world. Distances are measured in minutes rather than miles – one sign by the gloriously sandy Shell Beach reads: ‘Toilets six minutes.’ Wild and charming, the car-free island is home to tiny coves, craggy cliffs and 60 residents, although summer day-trippers boost that number considerably.
The hotel: They’ve finally allowed clocks in the 40 traditional bedrooms at The White House (a ten-minute walk from the harbour), but there are still no phones or televisions. The hotel has a slightly lived-in look, but there is a pool and great sea views.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £145 a night (herm.com/hotel).
Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly
Hell Bay, pictured, is England’s most westerly point. It is located on the island of Bryher on the Isles of Scilly
Remote rating: America is the next stop after Hell Bay on the wild Atlantic coast. Traffic on the charmingly quirky pint-sized island comes in the form of hikers and dog-walkers, and there are plenty of reminders of yesteryear in the countryside, including stalls with goods for sale and honesty boxes.
The hotel: England’s most westerly hotel, Hell Bay has 25 cottages and clapboard chalets with a Caribbean feel, done out in sea blues and greens, interspersed with cream. As well as fine dining, there’s an excellent Crab Shack in the grounds, and a heated pool.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £190 a night (hellbay.co.uk).
Spitbank Fort, The Solent, Hampshire
The only way to reach Spitbank Fort, which dates back to the 1860s, is to take a private boat – and there is only one transfer a day
Remote rating: The only way to reach this 1860s fort in the Solent is by private boat – and there is only one transfer a day. One of four circular forts built to protect Portsmouth’s naval dockyard from a threatened French attack, Spitbank has sublime sea views.
The hotel: The rooftop hot tub is the perfect spot for viewing passing yachts, preferably with a glass of champagne in hand. Among the eight classically decorated rooms in this adults-only hotel is the Crows Nest, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows for more of those sea views.
Cost: Full-board doubles cost from £425 a night including transfer from Portsmouth (solentforts.com).
Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Llanwddyn, Powys
Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales, which was created in 1880 as a reservoir to supply Liverpool. The surrounding woodland is protected by the RSPB
Remote rating: Created in 1880 as a reservoir to supply Liverpool, Lake Vyrnwy now looks more like a natural lake, and is surrounded by woodland protected by the RSPB. There are plenty of great hiking routes nearby. This is also mountain-bike country, while all the usual watersports are available on the lake.
The hotel: Standing in splendid isolation on a forested hillside, the Victorian building boasts incredible views of the mountain-ringed lake from some of its 52 slightly chintzy rooms.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £120 a night (lakevyrnwy.com).
The Gathering, Knoydart, Inverness-shire
The sunrise overlooking Lada Bheinn in Knoydart, in the Scottish Highlands
The only way to reach Knoydart, on Scotland’s west coast, is to take a 25-minute ferry from Mallaig
Remote rating: Knoydart, on Scotland’s west coast, may be on the mainland but the only way to reach it is a 25-minute ferry journey from Mallaig, or an 18-mile walk over the hills from Kinloch Hourn.
The hotel: A five-minute walk from the pier in the village of Inverie, The Gathering has six contemporary bedrooms, with wooden floors and tartan throws, plus a slick self-catering cottage. There are views over Loch Nevis, a new all-day restaurant, plus a hot tub for soothing those sore muscles after long hikes. The Knoydart Brewery next door delivers its beer in a wheelbarrow.
Cost: B&B stays cost from £59 per person a night (thegatheringknoydart.co.uk).
Moor of Rannoch, Rannoch Station, Perth and Kinross
Rannoch Moor is 50 square miles of boggy moorland with small lochs, rivers and rocky outcrops
Remote rating: Yes, it’s right next to a railway station and you can get there on the Caledonian Sleeper from London, but Rannoch Moor is one of Europe’s last great wildernesses – 50 square miles of boggy moorland with small lochs, rivers and rocky outcrops. Unsurprisingly, it’s home to a variety of birdlife as well as grouse and deer.
The hotel: Don’t expect TVs, wi-fi or mobile coverage in this restaurant with five rooms. Instead, you’ll find a communal jigsaw in the lounge, more than 100 malt whiskies in the bar that’s always open, and binoculars in the bedrooms, decorated in purple and grey, with tartan touches. The food is pretty good too – and you can get a picnic to take exploring.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £195 a night (moorofrannoch.co.uk).
Baltasound Hotel, Unst, Shetland Islands
Unst, pictured, is the northernmost of the inhabited British Isles. The island has a population of just 500 people
Remote rating: Once you’ve flown to Shetland, it still takes two car ferries to reach Unst, the northernmost of the inhabited British Isles. The island (population 500) has a Scandi-Scottish vibe, with Viking history and Shetland ponies to be found along the walking trails that encompass cliffs, beaches, peat bogs and freshwater lochs. There are rare flowers, too, at the Keen of Hamar nature reserve.
The hotel: The Baltasound has the accolade of being Britain’s most northerly hotel. The 24 rooms – split between wooden cabins in the grounds and traditional rooms in the main house – are simply kitted out but the real luxury is outside.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £130 a night (baltasoundhotel.co.uk).
Delphi Lodge, Leenane, County Galway
Remote rating: In a wild, unspoilt valley with rivers famous for salmon fishing, the 1,000-acre Delphi estate is surrounded by the tallest mountains in Connemara. Prince Charles came here to sketch the scenery, which says it all.
The hotel: Once the Marquess of Sligo’s sporting lodge, this hideaway now has 13 rooms, done out in fresh chintz. There are no TVs, phone coverage is patchy, and guests dine together at one long oak table. There is, though, a snooker room and lovely log fires.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £192 a night (delphilodge.ie).
Inis MeÁin, Aran Islands, County Galway
The windswept Inis Meáin, which is the least visited of the Aran Islands, located off Ireland’s west coast
Remote rating: Set right on the edge of Europe, windswept Inis Meáin is the least visited of the trio of Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast. Those who do venture here will discover a landscape of limestone contours and dry-stone walls, cliffs and beaches.
The hotel: It may take inspiration from the landscape but Inis Meáin is proof that isolated doesn’t necessarily mean rough and ready.
The five sleek suites – all wood, limestone and granite – have an air of Japanese simplicity. Forget the lack of phone signal and TVs, the entertainment here is fishing, cycling and walking. Breakfast is delivered in the morning, a picnic lunch is provided, and dinner is a tasty affair of Atlantic fish or home-reared meat.
Cost: Four nights’ full board for two costs from £2,130 (inismeain.com).
Arkell House, Rathlin Island, County Antrim
A warm welcome: One of the three cosy bedrooms at Arkell House on Rathlin off the coast of Northern Ireland
Remote rating: The 140-strong population of this rugged island off the coast of Northern Island is far outnumbered by seals and seabirds from April to July. Rathlin is also where Robert the Bruce reputedly watched a spider trying to spin a web in a cave. The spider eventually succeeded, prompting Robert to vow to fight the English one more time, defeating them at the Battle of Bannockburn.
The hotel: On the water’s edge, Arkell House has three brightly decorated rooms. The B&B, which provides picnic lunches and dinner, also has its own boat for transfers and island tours.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £70 a night (rathlincottages.co.uk).
Scarista House, Lewis and Harris, Outer Hebrides
Remote rating: With a three-mile sandy beach and Atlantic views on one side and heather-clad mountains on the other, Scarista House makes for a great Hebridean hideaway. Although Lewis and Harris is Scotland’s largest isle, it is still exceedingly tranquil and home to plentiful wildlife, from deer to dolphins. You will also find some of the oldest rocks in the world here.
The hotel: Apart from the setting, the main draw of Scarista House is its delicious food – local shellfish and meat, as well as home-made bread, cakes and ice cream. The six rooms are comfy, if a tad dated.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £197 a night with afternoon tea (scaristahouse.com).
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