We visited Islay for wildlife and whisky and wanted a base where we had a bit of room for an extensive travelling library and a microscope!
Ballivicar Farm is down in the South of the Island, a good base for the Oa and the awesome trinity of Ardbeg, Lagavullin and Laphroaig, as well as the pretty little bays of the SE of the Island (it would be a good place for the ferry as well, once Port Ellen is operational again, but at the moment its a 40 minute drive to Port Askaig). We didn't mind a bit of travelling (Islay isn't big, but the roads aren't particularly quick) so we were happy to use it as a base for the further flung corners as well ~ I managed to sup representative samples at all eight distilleries ~ even if Caol Isla was more of a sat at the gates job (it was shut).
Harriet and Toby are friendly and approachable, but equally happy to let you get about your business (lambing was on during our stay and we had a lot to squeeze into a short time). The geese were in during out visit, and it was quite a site to see a few thousand barnacles on the farm fields, and the starling flock outside our 'hayloft' studio was quite vocal come night time, amazing to hear the variety of bird calls this seventeen strong choir could imitate.
As well as the sheep there are horses and a few dogs (one of which will eye up your ankles, but isn't really a problem) and its a very pleasant place to be of an evening.
Everything was spic and span in the room, with decent radiators that could heat the large living/kitchen area up very efficiently. Only complaint was from the Cook - she hates electric ovens, but managed for the week.
The nearest town is Port Ellen, quite small but with the essentials, shop and a few takeaways and pubs, less than ten minutes by car, and Bowmore which is a little bigger, about half an hour by car.
The Oa is good for wildlife, we had Hen Harrier and White Tailed Sea Eagle there (Golden is more common) and the views from the American Monument are superb. The singing sands are very close, but seemed to have lost their voice ;)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.