It is always a pity to give a poor review which I have rarely done. This is not about the actual price charged but about the less than good value offered by Tiroran House for that money. I have visited Scotland, and the outlying islands, nearly every year for the past sixty years staying in all classes of accommodation from luxury five star hotels, comfortable and very friendly hotels, guest houses and B&Bʼs. I have toured the Highlands, the inner and outer Hebrides with many holidays on the Isle of Skye, the Orkneys, the Shetlands, the Isle of Arran, and I am a regular visitor to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Grampians.
On this latest Scottish holiday, I wanted to visit Mull and Iona having missed out on these two islands on my previous trips. For a birthday occasion this year, I booked Tiroran House based on its location and their own website sales information which states this is “Scottish Country House Hotel 2014”. I paid the required non refundable deposit and in return received a four page e-mail setting out all the many ʻdoʼsʼ and ʻdonʼtsʼ relating to staying here, including several ʻlegal styleʼ disclaimers together with instructions on parking the car!
ʻThe Woodlandʼ room cost £220 per night for bed and breakfast and was booked for three nights. This room is outside the house, as advertised, and is located on the upper floor of an outbuilding with another bedroom below. Access to the Woodland room is across a gravel driveway and then up a flight of concrete steps to a small entrance lobby. This journey to the main house for meals could well be problematic on very wet days. On arrival, when I first entered the bedroom, a previous guest had spilled coffee, or something, on the settee. The seat cushion was removed for cleaning and returned promptly the next day. The beds are comfortable but the bedding is only of average quality. A ʻhospitalityʼ tray was provided with a tin container of various odd tea bags, sachets of instant coffees, UHT milk containers, etc., all of an uncertain age. One small bottle of water was left for two people on the first nightʼs stay. A single packet of two very small biscuits was left each day of the stay. No further bottled water was provided. This is not a problem as the tap water is perfectly potable. But it certainly indicated the overall lack of normal Scottish hospitality and generosity I felt during my stay here. It is also against house policy to consume alcohol in the room without incurring a high corkage charge.
Everything worked in the large bathroom. The towels, like the bed linen, are of average quality. Certainly not what one expects at this high price level in Scotland. Breakfast is of an adequate but average standard. I have had better at similar B&Bʼs and guest houses. For the very high cost charged here, it should be so much better. Serving times do not compare to the very flexible times usually offered by most European B&Bʼs and guest houses. Breakfast is served in the same small adjoining room and conservatory as the dinner in the evening.
Tiroran House is a very long way by car from any restaurant, pub or cafe. Guests are more or less tied into having dinner here to avoid a long drive. Dinner cost £48 per person. There was a choice of just three main courses from a menu left in the hallway during the afternoon (there is no bar or reception in the house.) Guests must choose from this in advance. There are two small guest lounges. One contains uncomfortable chaises longues. On the first night I entered here, there was a family group assembled for dinner. They all had great difficulty sitting on these while stretching out to reach for their drinks from a low table in the middle of the room. Pre-dinner drinks are ordered from a list and are poured and prepared outside these two rooms. The drink is already made up and brought in without giving guests any choice of the amount of ice or mixer. A gin and tonic costs £7.80. When everyone in the two rooms has assembled for dinner, and has a pre-dinner drink in their hand, plates of three very small and rather bland canapés are handed to each guest at the same time! There are no ʻnibblesʼ of any pre-prandial interest offered to hungry guests. A reasonable wine list is circulated at this time, although not all bottles offered were actually available.
Dinner is at a set time each evening and dining guests are seated in the two small breakfast spaces, mostly at small tables for two. These are all very close together which is conducive to chatting with fellow guests. However, meaningful conversations are not easily maintained because these small tables are served in a strict rotation, with servers moving around the small gaps between the tables, which interrupts any flow in the dinner time chat.
Menu choice is limited and the portion sizes are small. At £48 per head, I would expect a salad/ hors dʼouvres starter, a hot soup, a decent sized main course with separate servings of potatoes, rice or pasta, together with separate servings of fresh vegetables, which they boast are locally grown. This should be followed by a decent sized dessert. The tiny quantities of food here are already plated up in the kitchen and brought out to table in strict rotation, irrespective of who has finished first. Dinner is certainly nothing exceptional except for the small portions and high prices. No espresso coffee is available after dinner but there is cafetière coffee and chocolates provided in the cost of dinner and available in the lounge. However, for the prices charged, the food quantity and quality leaves a lot to be desired, especially as Tiroran House is so far from any alternative place to eat in the evening.
Based on my Scottish travels, at many different price levels, there are so many other places to stay in Scotland with much friendlier and more genuine Scottish hospitality. My total bill at Tiroran House was £1,100 for three nights bed and breakfast with dinner for two, three bottles of relatively inexpensive wine, a pre-dinner gin and tonic per person per night, and on one occasion two small whiskeys at £9 each. This is a high price to pay for a mediocre stay. An attraction of this place is its location on a sunny day - it might be completely different in more typical island weather conditions!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 4 star Visit Scotland and AA rated hotel on the Isle of Mull - The only Country House Hotel on the island and equal distance to Tobermory and Iona - 2 AA Rosette restaurant - Scottish Country House Hotel of the Year 2013 & 2014 -10 en suite bedrooms (most with loch views) -elegant country house dining in licensed restaurant - Very large well maintained gardens and private beach - beautifully comfortable and elegant hotel run exclusively by the owners and staff for the benefit of their resident guests - Tiroran House Hotel Isle of Mull nestles among some of the best land and seascapes of the British Isles. Non resident diners welcome - advance bookings essential ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Tiroran House Hotel Isle Of Mull