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“A pleasant stay.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Summer Isles Hotel

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Summer Isles Hotel
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Main Street | Achiltibuie, Achiltibuie IV26 2YG , Scotland   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Achiltibuie
Farnham, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“A pleasant stay.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2013

We spent three nights at the Summer Isles in May. We had our dog with us as well and the whole thing worked well, with a room outside of the main hotel. it was surprising to find such an up-market hotel in such a remote location. The staff were excellent: very friendly and helpful. The food and service in the restaurant for dinner and breakfast was of a high standard and service. The bar next door, for general meals, had the same high standard of food but seemed a little cold and uninviting. In summary: superb location; wonderful views; lovely, relaxing lounge; good library; bathroom good; and bedroom adequate; The poor distribution of the wi-fi system through the building was the only other minor frustration. Would go again.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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273 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (70)
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English first
Northampton
Top Contributor
70 reviews 70 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2013

We had 3 nights here after having a week on the Isle of Harris (www.rodelvalley.com) and it was extremely relaxing. The food was very good. We ate in the main restaurant for 1 night and the bar for the other 2 and really enjoyed the food in both. Breakfast was great and the staff were extremely attentive.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2013

We stayed two nights with another couple/friends from the Netherlands at the Summer Isles Hotel driving with our own cars through NW-Scotland. The travel to the hotel alone was worth the visit. Fantastic scenery of mountains and lochs over a long single track road (unthinkable in crowded Holland!). We didn't expect to see such a lovely country house hotel at the end of the road with such a beautiful view over the sea and isles in the distance. The reception was 'Scottish' friendly, the rooms were great and spacious (although we avoided the obviously much used rug in the bathroom), the bar was inviting with a large choice of whisky's (what else?) and the restaurant was simply decorated but.. with nice works of the local artists on the wall. The food was very, very nice and of good quality (must be a good kitchen team). The restaurant had a Michelin star before but lost it a couple of years ago. I don't know why (location too remote for Michelin?). Anyway, we all 4 judged the food to be worth a Michelin star, based on our experience at 3 other hotels during the same trip of which one had actually a Michelin star (but we thought it wasn't worth it) as well based on our broad dinning experience in the rest of Europe.
The owner, Terry, helped serving during dinner engaging himself with the wine and the cheese tray. One could see that this was not his profession: wine serving a little clumsy and the cheese tray was in no time a mess, but.... his flair and his friendliness really made up for everything. As all guests were invited for the aperitif and dinner at the same time (of which the nice side is that you could meet and talk to the other guests) the dinner time itself took too long. These are our only two critics.
The entire staff was friendly and helpful, so in the end this was a memorable stay.
Although remote and isolated for us we will come back some day during another trip to Scotland. We can recommend this address!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Thornhill, Scotland, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2013

We stayed at this hotel for one night during a short break touring the West coast. We had previously had lunch in the bar 2 years ago, and enjoyed both the lunch and the setting so much that we vowed to return some day. Our accomodation was adequate but disappointing. Only one useable socket in the room for the hair dryer and no mirror within reach of it. Used soap left in shower and no milk for tea or coffee. Shoddy.
We ate in the dining room and thought the food was absolutely wonderful. We chose to go with the recommended wine option rather than order our own....mistake. Our waitress was lovely but Terry the owner chose to serve our wine and things very quickly began to unravel. By the time we reached the lamb course we had neither wine nor water on the table and could not catch anyone's attention at all! Eventually Terry came over and we pointed out his error only to receive a very frosty and reluctant apology. He was very attentive to one of the other groups in the dining room and seemed to completely forget about everyone else. From then on he was very surly with us and my attempts to re-engage with him as he served the cheese course were rebuffed. We have never left a dining room before coffee is served before, but had both had enough and decided to leave. We travel widely and have been lucky enough to stay in stunning hotels all over the world and have never been treated so rudely anywhere else.
Breakfast was faultless and we watched as several guests were checked out by Terry and treated charmingly. When it came to our turn however, Terry turned to a junior member of staff, told him to deal with it and promptly left! No queries about our stay, not a word!
The Summer Isles Hotel was the most expensive night of our trip and yet we enjoyed every other hotel so much more. Something is very wrong here. We are experienced travellers and I also run a 5 star holiday cottage so was absolutely appalled by Terry's behaviour towards us.
This is the first time I have ever felt compelled to leave a negative review on Trip Advisor.

Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TerryMackay, Owner at Summer Isles Hotel, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
Dear Laura K,
I am sorry that you had such a poor experience with us. I have noted your initial comments and have pointed them out to Housekeeping. However, your major criticisms revolve around my personal behaviour towards you. I honestly do not recall the incidents you mention; I always try to give the same high level of service to all our guests. The only explanation I can think of is that you visited the hotel while my Restaurant Manager was on holiday and I was trying to cover 2 roles. This is no excuse at all for poor service and I offer my sincere apologies that we fell below the very high levels of customer service which we always aspire to deliver. Kind regards, Terry Mackay
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Surrey, England, UK
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

We made our first visit here in June 2012. See the Review from then, it was excellent. This time I cannot quite get so excited about it. We decided to return with family at the end of April 2013 for the early season opening. It was still good and welcoming but they have just lost the edge. Manager Jody Marshall has moved on and the hotel is now run and managed by the owner Terry McKay. The team had not come together. It just did not quite have the edge that was there under Jody's leadership. It just was not the same welcome and enthusiasm. The attention to detail and the slick service was missing, particulary at breakfast.

That said everyone tried hard. We had an excellent dinner in the Gastro pub on Friday evening, as good as ever. The pub staff had a sense of fun which mixed in with the local banter made for a good atmosphere. The main reastuarant Gastro dinner on Saturday evening was a good effort but for me just did not quite work, some difficult combinations, smoked mackerel with pickled cucumber. Veal cheek with a very thin puree potato. Terry and the staff did not seem relaxed and comfortable together and the dinner took a long time to serve. The cheese board that gets so much acclaim was disappointing and although he tried hard Terry has not quite mastered serving it.

This is a superb location and the weather was kind if not brillant sunshine. We did the boat trip to the Summer Isles with a good packed lunch from the hotel.

The rooms and accomodation were execellent and well equipped as always. I hope they get their edge back with a new and dynamic General Manager. We will go back but we will watch carefully. Even at early season break rates it is not a cheap weekend.

Room Tip: Take a Superior sea view room. Make sure to go on the boat trip to Summer Isles.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 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
    • 4 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.
TerryMackay, Owner at Summer Isles Hotel, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
Dear Applecross Traveller,
Thanks for taking the time to review your time with us. I am pleased that overall you enjoyed your stay and found the accommodation excellent and the food generally to your liking. You are quite correct in saying that my previous General Manager, Jody Marshall, was outstanding in his team leadership. Jody’s “shoes” are big ones to fill, in every sense of the words! I will continue to strive towards that goal! Kind regards, Terry Mackay
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Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2013

Wester Ross in good weather is heaven on Earth and The Summer Isles Hotel has the most glorious location overlooking the eponymous islands. Our room was in one of the outlying buildings with a mezzanine floor and within a minute from the hotel front door. I would thoroughly recommend this choice.

The staff were superb - friendly without being intrusive and keen to do things well. Interestingly, they performed better when the owner was away for a couple of days as he is definitely learning on the job.

The hotel is so nearly wonderful but is in desperate need if some attention - moss growing up the outside of the bathroom window which will need attention before it becomes damaged for example. The bathroom was large with plenty of hot water but the bidet did not function correctly (nor did that of the adjacent room apparently), the unheated tiled floor was chilly and we rolled up the threadbare, soiled rug which adorned it asking instead for a bath mat which was promptly supplied. There was a large cupboard under the Jack and Jill basins which could not be used as it was grubby - a quick lick of paint after a clean would have easily avoided mention of it. Unfortunately, every towel we used had some kind of black mark in it although they were obviously laundered. Interestingly, the wardrobe is situated in the bathroom and was adequate although I would not have used the ironing board and iron that were stored there.

The bed was reasonably comfortable but it was very disappointing to have a lightweight synthetic duvet and pillows. We've never experienced that in any hotel, even Travelodge, but luckily had packed hot water bottles.

The food was reasonable. Dinner guests are asked to arrive at a specific time - I can't remember if it was 7 or 7.30. That was fine but the meal took an inordinate time despite the fact that with a set menu things should have been easy to coordinate in the kitchen. On our third night we did not finish coffee until 11.45. Pre-dinner drinks nibbles were only supplied to some of the guests and when I asked to have some I was told that there would not be enough time as we would be called to our table soon! The much-lauded cheeseboard was fine (I have experienced better) but was marred by Terry taking an inordinate amount of time to cut as miniscule an amount as possible - very mean. Breakfast was excellent with the exception of bacon which was like cardboard. We omitted it from our order on subsequent mornings which made breakfast faultless.

The website advertises a complimentary dram or gin and home-made tablet in the rooms. None of the guests whilst we were there were offered this. It should not have been advertised if it not offered any more.

I would have thought the experience to have been very over-priced if we had not had an online deal. The Summer Isles Hotel is a destination experience and cannot hope to rely on passing trade, lying as it does on a road that becomes a dead end so it must raise its game and then we would love to come back. Overall it is a treasure which could so easily fail without some care and attention.

Room Tip: Sea view is imperative as that's really what the hotel has going for it. Being in one of the ou...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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.
Perth, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
275 reviews 275 reviews
64 hotel reviews
Reviews in 122 cities Reviews in 122 cities
111 helpful votes 111 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 24, 2013

My, my, my....nearly perfect. Great location, an idyll, great views...superb host/owner, Terry.
We had a large seaview room, bed set up on raised mezzanine floor, with a small sitting area, with views to the magnificent Summer Isles. Nice large bathroom, with all amenities. We stayed for two nights and it was very comfortable.
Dinner the first night was superb. Although a set table d'hote, it is a good 6 courses, with hors d'oeuvres, amuse bouche and the piece de resistance....The Cheese Trolley !!! For which the restaurant has rightly won a variety of rewards.
Dinner the second night, failed to live up to our expectations. The insistence of chefs to emulsify and to tart up plates with bottle green purees....is very regrettable. To "paint green" locally caught monkfish is unforgiveable !!! The north-west of Scotland is blessed with great fish and meat, all that is needed is to keep the cooking simple....
If all the staff were as comitted as the owner, then the establishment, would be all the better for it. Although it was early in the season, some of the staff, didn't hide the fact that they were bored. Our room wasn't made up, when we returned @ 2.30p.m.. No one initially knew the Password for the Wi-fi, the fire in the lounge could have been lit, in the afternoon, especially as the weather was dreadful. Just little things, but important, if you want 5 stars. Finally, the inability to serve a "poached Egg", properly, needs to be addressed. As a Top Chef told me, "Guests always remember the last meal, before they leave, so make it special !!!!!" Best Wishes Terry, you have all the attributes, just crack the whip, a little bit !!!!

Room Tip: This is a great location. The food can be superb. The Cheese Trolley and Wine List are magnificent...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
TerryMackay, Owner at Summer Isles Hotel, responded to this review, April 26, 2013
Dear gastronaut_11,
Thank you for taking the time to write a review. I am pleased that you enjoyed most of your experiences with us - especially the dinner on the first night. I am sorry that we disappointed you in some ways. Our Chef's approach to the second dinner, as he developed his fusion of traditional produce and modern cooking techniques obviously did not appeal to you. Your comment about the poached egg at breakfast has led the Chef to have a further training session with the chef on duty that morning; we completely agree on the importance of getting the breakfast right! I have noted and am dealing with your other detailed comments, for which many thanks.
I hope you will return later this year, or next season, to see how we have responded to your points.
Kind regards, Terry Mackay
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Summer Isles Hotel

Address: Main Street | Achiltibuie, Achiltibuie IV26 2YG , Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > Scottish Highlands > Ross and Cromarty > Achiltibuie
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Achiltibuie
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Summer Isles Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Originating in the 19th century as a fishing inn and crofters' bar, the hotel has been developed over the last 4 decades into an oasis of civilisation in one of the most remote and beautiful parts of Britain. Renowned for its fine food and wine, it is a destination for foodies as well as those who enjoy walking, climbing and exploring in exotic landscapes. There are 13 letting units ranging from simple log cabin rooms to a sophisticated cottage with 3 en-suite bedrooms. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Summer Isles Achiltibuie
Hotel Summer Isles
Summer Isles Hotel Achiltibuie, Scotland

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