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“A Total Delight” 5 of 5 stars
Review of St. Columba Hotel

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St. Columba Hotel
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Isle of Iona, PA76 6SL, Scotland   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Isle of Iona
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Northampton, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“A Total Delight”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2012

Even from England the journey to this lovely hotel is quite a trek but it is worth it! My wife and I regularly visit the island but this is the first time we have stayed at this hotel. It won't be the last. The position and views are beyond words - just awesome in every weather condition. The room my wife and I had was small but it had everything we needed. The room was warm, the bed was especially comfortable, there were sufficient pillows and towels. It was spotlessly clean and the housekeeping service kept it perfect throughout our week's stay.

We were members of a large group for which the hotel put on a special group menu. There was everything one could want at breakfast including a couple of cooked options. In addition they produced plates of fresh fruit on request. Nothing was too much trouble. The evening meals were also varied and delicious. The produce is sourced as locally as possible. We had lamb from the island, cheese, venison and beef from Mull, haggis (with an amazing sauce) from Fort William, sea food from the sea outside the window, vegetables from the hotel's garden. Everything was cooked carefully and presented to look like a picture, with garnishes of edible wild flowers from the island. Total joy! The table service was charming with smiles and friendly banter from the staff. It sometimes seemed a bit slow but we were a large group and cooking food as fresh as we had takes time and can't be rushed.

As a group we had a fixed price that seemed good value for what we received. But service and accommodation of this quality is difficult to provide in remote places and visitors have to be realistic about what they need to pay. One also has to be realistic about small maintenance issues. The nearest electrician is fifty miles and two ferries away! Having said that the short loss of power we experienced was nothing to do with the hotel but just part of the island experience. Everything worked fine, including the free wifi. The hotel also makes two pcs available for guest free of charge.

Overall I can't find anything but praise for the place, the view, the food and the service. If you do visit and find anything amiss just speak to the staff and they will fall over themselves to fix it. They are so hospitable and constantly refining everything to make their guests comfortable and happy.

We can't wait to go back.

Room Tip: I am not sure if all rooms have a sea view, though our's did. If you want a bedroom with sea vie...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, October 3, 2012
Many thanks for taking the time to write this thorough review. I am very glad to hear how much you enjoyed your recent stay with us and we look forward to seeing you on your next visit!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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144 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    73
    40
    21
    5
    5
See reviews for
24
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Scotland
Top Contributor
116 reviews 116 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2012

Was only in Iona for a few hours so did not stay overnight. However my husband and I had lunch in the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed it. Husband had potted crab, crab broth and toasted bread while I had lentil, roasted pepper and garlic soup with homemade bread. It was all delicious and the staff were friendly. Definitely would recommend the food. The views across to Mull were beautiful.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, October 3, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to post this review. I'm very glad to hear that you enjoyed your lunch, and perhaps on your next visit to Iona you'll be able to stay longer!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stock, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
162 reviews 162 reviews
117 hotel reviews
Reviews in 83 cities Reviews in 83 cities
188 helpful votes 188 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 17, 2012

OK, so Iona wouldn't be my first choice holiday destination - the local "what to do" guide lists "worship" and "walking" as the top 2 activities. But we were here to celebrate a friends wedding so we made the 12 hour trip from south east England to this very remote little island...We had no choice in accommodation as this hotel was the only place left with any rooms. The location for the hotel is spectacular and the view from our window was fabulous, but the hotel itself is shabby and basic. On arrival in our room I mended the jammed window (thank goodness for the travel screwdriver), then I noticed the alarming buzzing and vibration of the bathroom light, but thankfully the piece of paper jammed behind the light to prevent this just needed a little re-folding to quieten things down! Finally the shower hose needed re attaching to the mixer tap to encourage water to come out of the shower head rather than everywhere else... Maintenance completed we set about exploring the hotel. I was rather distressed to find no TV anywhere in the hotel including the 2 communal lounge areas - the room guide advised that this was "to protect me from the bombardment of media and advertising" Hmmm I think I'm quite old enough to decide whether I need that kind of protection myself; and I would have quite liked to catch up with the news now and again. The room guide also advised that I might like to shower later in the day once the solar water heating system had provided the hot water - hmmm again! Finally the guide advised that my towels would be changed every three days (if I wanted to change this I could call reception); but we tried the towels in the bath trick and this seemed to trigger dry towel replacement. I have no problem with re-using towels, but you do need sufficient drying space and or decent sized heated towel rails to do this - neither available in our room. Other little niggles were that tea and coffee were provided, but milk and biscuits were not replaced when consumed, the bed linen was mis-matched and the servicing of the room consisted on replacing our (very tiny) towels and pulling the duvet up the bed a bit. All of this you might think is trivial nit-picking, but this hotel charged us £175 per night and for that I expect something a little better. I have stayed in better appointed B&Bs and while the drive for eco-sensitivity is laudable, the tone of the hotel's message is patronising. I'm pleased I have now visited Iona, but I'm sure there is better quality accommodation available than this hotel.

Room Tip: Not sure if all rooms have a sea view, but if not make sure you ask for one - it's the best thin...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, August 21, 2012
I am very sorry to hear about the maintenance problems you found in your room. As I believe I mentioned in my response to your husband’s review, I’m not sure whether these were not reported at the time, or unfortunately not recorded, but now that I am aware of the problems you experienced I will certainly look into them.

I’m also sorry that you found it distressing that we don’t have any TVs in the hotel. While I realise that you were on Iona for a particular reason, many of our guests are here for different reasons, and appreciate having an environment free from television. We do provide 2 computers and free internet access for guests so that those who wish to keep in touch with people and/or events elsewhere can do so.

Our environmental policy is certainly not intended to be patronising. As I hope you found, there should be plenty of hot water early in the day as well, and of course we are happy to change towels as often as required.

The rate you paid for our superior room was £170, and I can understand that you would be disappointed (as I am) that our housekeeping was not up to its usual standard during your stay with us.

Should you ever have occasion to return to Iona, I hope that you will find an experience that better matches your expectations.
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INGATESTONE
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

The staff at the St Columba are fantastic. They are helpful, friendly and nothing is too much trouble. The location is equally great with a fantastic view accross to Mull as well as of the Abbey.

The hotel itself needs a bit of TLC, nothing major but just a little attention e.g. it was really hard to shut our room door as it wasn't fitted quite right, the light above the bathroom mirror wasstarting to come away from the wall and there was lots of chipped chipped paint. Also not sure why in the middle of our bathroom door there were 2 door hand plates in the shape of an L.

The restaurant is hugely frustrating in that some dishes are fantastically good and could grace the table of the finest restaurants whereas others are bland and over cooked. I found this really disappointing as they did some things so very well. However, the wine list is excellent and very sensibly priced.

Iona itself is really beautiful and the Abbey is well worth a visit. The history surrounding it is fascinating. A boat trip to Staffa is also worth doing to see Fingals Cave but be prepared to get a little wet on the boat as the sea can be a little choppy!

For what it is I think the hotel is a bit pricey - £175 per night (incl. continental breakfast - hot food was an additional charge) we were charged and if you are thinking of going and are on a budget I suggest looking at some of the other options which are available. Also remember that there are no TV's or radios in the hotel so you might want to make sure you've got a good book with you.

Room Tip: Room 5 has the best views and is double aspect. There are no TV's or radios so bring a book!
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, August 21, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to post this review. I’m glad to hear that you appreciated our friendly staff and our location – both of which we recognise as amongst our best assets.

I’m very sorry to hear that you found your room in need of some attention. If you reported these
issues at the time I’m afraid that they weren’t recorded, but I will certainly look into them now.

Of course, I’m also sorry to hear that you were frustrated by our restaurant, and that you didn’t enjoy every dish during your dinner and breakfast. I hope that you made the staff aware of this at the time so that the feedback could be passed on to our kitchen, however please do feel free to contact with me directly with more details.

I'm glad that overall you enjoyed your visit to Iona, but I must apologise that your experience of the hotel did not live up to your experience of the island.
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Glasgow, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2012

Love this hotel! Been going for years and we are never disappointed! The staff are always very welcoming and accomodating!! The food is always great!! The rooms and living areas are always clean and comfortable!! Thank you so much for a wonderful stay - we will definitely be back again next year!!

Room Tip: ask for a sea view!!
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, August 13, 2012
Many thanks for taking the time to write this review. We're glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay - and we look forward to welcoming you back next year!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2012

Organised a trip from our Church in Stratford upon Avon to visit Iona at the end of June and stayed at the St Columba. The accommodation was fine, food fantastic and the staff wonderful.
Apart from the weather, we all had a wonderful time. Iona is a must for all travellers - why not call into the St Columba for lunch - you will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, August 6, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write this review. We're glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay with us - and will do our best to arrange better weather for your next visit!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2012

This hotel is a little piece of heaven on earth. The grounds were lovely, the accommodations were comfy with great views out across the water and onto the abbey, and the right balance of serenity and cheer. They have their own extensive organic gardens, tended by a very nice gentleman and his sweet dog, surrounding the hotel from which the kitchen prepares fabulous meals. Apparently ALL of their food is organic and locally-sourced. Quite an accomplishment for a such a remote hotel! The staff are so gracious and helpful, from the reception folks to the kitchen (the chefs even dropped what they were doing to give a hand to me as I struggled with my suitcase).

To the negative reviewers, I would say - if you want to stay in a brand-new sterile hotel - better to book at the Marriott in Glasgow and stay there. However, if you want to book in a charming hotel with a stellar staff who are intent on making your stay on this special island absolutely spectacular, this is the one! I think the price is well-worth it - where else do you get attentive/cheerful service, delicious/healthful/fresh food, and stunning surroundings?? (do splurge at least one morning on a hot breakfast!)

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dot_Stewart, General Manager at St. Columba Hotel, responded to this review, August 2, 2012
Many thanks for taking the time to write this thoughtful review. I’m very glad to hear how much you enjoyed your stay, and we hope to welcome you back to the St Columba very soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about St. Columba Hotel

Address: Isle of Iona, PA76 6SL, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > The Hebrides > Isle of Iona
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Isle of Iona
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated next to Iona Abbey with stunning panoramic views across the Sound of Iona to the mountains of Mull. All food prepared from scratch in our own kitchens making use of fresh garden produce from our own gardens. Free broadband wireless internet. A warm welcome and friendly service. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
St. Columba Hotel Scotland/Isle Of Iona
Hotel St Columba

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