5 Cosy West Coast Winter Warmers
As winter curls its icy grip around Scotland the temptation is to stop travelling and just stay at home. You could do that, but you would miss out on Scotland's scenery arguably looking its best on crisp clear days, maybe even topped with a dusting of snow. It's a time of year too when the crowds are gone so you get to enjoy it all with plenty of space.
And I've got even more than that to tempt you to forget any thoughts of just hibernating at home. I've put together some of my favourite places to stay, culled from almost two decades as a travel writer, on CalMac routes so you can enjoy a seriously cosy break. What are you waiting for? Grab a big jumper, a warm coat and head off for a cosy escape this winter.
Here are five of the cosiest, most heart warming escapes this winter...
1. Sound of Harris
This is a brand new self-catering escape that, as it sounds, overlooks the Sound of Harris on the eponymous Outer Hebridean isle. It is a gloriously luxurious retreat awash with Harris Tweed and super stylish furniture. The floor to ceiling windows really make the most of the epic local scenery and the sunsets are breathtaking. I recommend stocking up on food as you really won't want to leave this gorgeous haven. Wrapped in Harris Tweed you will want to stay here all winter. I love that their 'Big House' has a Japanese style hot tub that can take two! For more on Harris check out my CalMac blog.
2. Coll Hotel
I love the wee Isle of Coll. How could you not as it boasts a whopping 23 sandy beaches? In winter you will have them all to yourself and they are ideal for a bracing stroll with remarkable views out towards the other isles to enjoy as you go. The award winning Coll Hotel - run by the Oliphant family since the 1960s - is very much the hub of the local community with its bar the place to meet the super friendly locals. The hotel does excellent food too so settle in and enjoy! If you over indulge don't worry as the ferry is just a short stroll away!
This may well be the ultimate winter break. Fancy chilling in an outdoor hot pool right on the beach with sweeping views of Loch Fyne to savour? Yes me too! Portavadie is a superb destination and marina on the Cowal Peninsula. They also have a couple of great restaurants to choose from and a wealth of luxurious accommodation options. Along with my wee girls I'm a big fan of the swish apartments, which come complete with floor to ceiling windows and their own saunas. For something even cosier they have a grass roofed wee cottage that is ideal for a romantic retreat for two this winter. The spa at Portavadie is one of the best in Scotland so you can treat yourself to a pre or post Christmas pamper! For my CalMac blog on Portavadie click here.
4. Kinloch Lodge
It's up to Skye now to get seriously cosy. Michelin star cosy that is. If you fancy some cooking this winter that is several steps up from soggy Brussels sprouts and dry turkey, then head to the largest of the Inner Hebrides. The main man in the kitchen at Kinloch is star chef Marcello Tully. He conjures up some remarkable creations using the freshest of local produce. If you seriously love his food he offers superb cooking lessons too, where you can learn to cook Michelin style! The rooms are old-world classy too. Book one with a water view and recline inside with a warming dram. Or in the main hotel warm your toes in front of a roaring fire.
5. Highland Cottage
It's over to the Isle of Mull now for the last of our cosy winter warmers. This time it is the Highland Cottage , which sits high above the main street of the island capital of Tobermory. It's very much a family affair run by an engaging couple who have been in the business for ages - in fact this is their 19th year here! The rooms are homely on a sort of Scotland meets New England theme. For real romance opt for a four-poster bed. I recommend dining in too as the cooking is superb. If you fancy venturing out there are a couple of seriously cosy pubs on the Tobermory waterfront just waiting to warm you up.
I've written a few more blogs for CalMac that may help you plan your day trip adventures so feel free to check these out.
Bio: Robin McKelvie has been travelling on Scottish ferries ever since he was a wee boy and writing about them and the places they serve since he became a travel writer in 1997. Robin has travelled to over 100 countries, but still rates Scotland 'as easily my favourite destination in the world'. These days, as well as penning travel articles for newspapers and magazines across five continents, Robin also writes guidebooks, does a lot of social media and also talks travel for the BBC. He also blogs about Scotland for multiple websites.