The Isle of Eriska Hotel sits on an island 12 miles north of Oban on the west coast of Scotland. It has been Beppo Buchanan-Smith’s family home since the 1970s, and he is always around making sure everyone is having a good time. Most guests drive here but we travel up on a wee train (there are just two carriages) from Glasgow Queen St station – the three hour ride passes through sensational coastal and mountain scenery with thundering waterfalls and a lovely sense of rattling adventure. Take a Thermos and shortbread.
The family dogs Dibley and Blue make suitably aristocratic models for Cleo B and Beauchamps’ WOOF! collection of brightly coloured dog collars and leads. I choose purple to match my shoes and mini pom poms… Cleo B makes these and other fab accessories to clip on to your shoes, which is a smart and inexpensive way to ring the changes with your footwear. That’s a blessing if you’re trying to travel light (I once went to the Caribbean with 16 pairs of shoes, something my travel writer husband never seems to forget…). The trousers are crepe, super-comfortable yet also très chic, and of course available to order now from Alice & Co.
The Isle of Eriska is reached by driving on single track roads and across a bridge, it’s very much a place to escape to if you’ve had a busy time at work.
You can stroll along the shore, indulge in some fabulous food and even play golf on a nine-hole course – if you must.
If it rains (surely not in Scotland?), there’s a great big swimming pool, spa, sports hall and endless sofas for lolling on with a good book and some afternoon tea.
Being a Relais & Chateaux property, the service here is tip-top, and dinner is not only delicious with lots of local products but also comes with a sideshow of roe deer playing on the lawn and a nightly visit from a family of badgers.
After far too much excellent food and wine some radical exercise is in order so we set off to climb nearby Mount Beinn Lora, which involves wading through a bog but thanks to my trusty Dubarry boots my feet stay warm and dry (see Alaska and a Trio of Country House Hotels posts).
Back at base, I swap my pom poms for some Cleo B crystal shoe clips for the cocktail hour. A perfectly-made daiquiri is placed in my hand, then a menu promising Argyll venison with beetroot and gooseberries, honey brûlée and a splendid cheese trolley. Hey presto, normality is restored…