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“Return to Summer Isles April 2013”

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The Summer Isles Hotel and Restaurant
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Achiltibuie
Certificate of Excellence
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
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2  Thank ApplecrossTravellers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TerryMackay, Owner at The Summer Isles Hotel and Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 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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279 - 285 of 472 reviews

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
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1  Thank Easytogetonwith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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1  Thank gastronaut_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TerryMackay, Owner at The Summer Isles Hotel and Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 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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Reviewed April 21, 2013

We came here to celebrate a 'milestone' birthday and were blessed with glorious weather in which to enjoy the stunning scenery. The hotel is not a single building but an eclectic mix of building, although all within metres of the main building in which there are some bedrooms as well as the dining room and most comfortable sitting room. We stayed in the log house, which is one of two buildings which can take more than just a couple. It was very well appointed and furnished and a real pleasure to return to after a day in the fresh air. There was a double bedroom and a further bedroom with two singles. A modern bathroom and kitchen, together with a large lounge/dining room completed the accommodation. We slept like logs and appreciated the views from the verandah. The staff were unfailingly attentive and friendly without being familiar. Breakfast was a little bit hit and miss - one day faultless and the next overdone sausage and undercooked eggs. Dinner was orchestrated in that it was a set menu published about mid day and service commenced at 7.00 pm with drinks and canapés in the sitting room before being taken individually in to the dining room and seated. There was the opportunity to have a course substituted if anything was not to your taste. There then followed five courses of impeccable food, including a cheese trolley with a dozen or so cheeses to choose from, and a glass of recommended wine with each course, or the option of a bottle of your choosing from an extensive list to suit all tastes and pockets (£21 or so up to £2250). Coffee and petit fours were then served in the sitting room. The only two problems we encountered were the length of time which was spent over dinner. We were not served until nearly eight o'clock, which is quite late for us, and the meal would not be over until rather late (on one evening coffee was served at 10.45). There is a bar which serves food but we were on an inclusive deal which included dinner. It was, by the way, a very good deal indeed given the early date in the season. The other problem, which is not the fault of the proprietor or staff, but nonetheless disturbing, were the inter table conversations. For two of the nights of our stay there was what I can only describe as a hen party, which seemed determined to share their experience of the day with everyone within the room. This was disappointing to a number of other guests who remarked on it.
All in all we had a great trip, were carefully and well looked after and we would return, but again early in the season when we would hope for as good a deal as last time.

Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank bjh1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TerryMackay, Owner at The Summer Isles Hotel and Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded April 26, 2013

Dear bjh1,
I am grateful to you for taking the time to write a review. I am delighted that you both enjoyed yourselves so much and that you like our style of operation in the dining room. We have taken steps to do some re-training of the breakfast chef so that we can achieve the proper standard consistently. You mention the probability of returning again at a similar time next year - we will be delighted to see you then!
Kind regards, Terry Mackay

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Reviewed April 11, 2013

For the first time on many visits to the hotel we stayed in Matthews Cottage which is beautifully appointed with stunning views over the Summer Isles from the bedrooms and the lounge (the weather was beautiful). We would like to thank the front of house staff for being so helpful in all aspects including arranging a boat trip to the islands and also the quality of the food was excellent

Room Tip: We have stayed may times and the rooms with sea view in the hotel and the cottage are excellent with...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Auchy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 3, 2013

It's a long way to get to the Summer Isles Hotel, but it's worth the trip. Especially the last 15 miles on a single track road with magnificient views on lakes and mountains. I stayed there in August 2006 in foggy weather and this time in august 2012 in a sunny spotless sky and top temperatures up to 24°.

The owners have changed but the spirit and atmosphere has remained. It's so quiet there. The food is still excellent, if not better and I am sure they will get back the Michelin star they deserve that the previous chef had. And it's a nice view too. Dinner is about a two hour affair.

The staff is extremely nice and I've only known one bedroom on my two stays and it's a little bit outside the hotel in one of the cottages which I recommend.

And if the place seems remote, there is plenty to do around whether you hike or not. The Lochinver area all around Quinag is very nice and try to get to the Old Man of Stoer. Very nice walk especially in sunny weather (yes, it can be sunny in Scotland).

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled solo
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Thank orcas33
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013 via mobile

We stayed here in May 2012 for 2 nights and had dinner in the restaurant on the first night. This is probably the best meal and service I've ever had. The staff were outstanding. It's over 5 hours drive from where I live but would go back just for a meal in the restaurant. As people have said in other reviews, the highlight is probably the amazing cheese board.

The only small downside I would say is that the room where we stayed must have had very thin walls as we could even hear when the people in the next room were speaking. Although don't let this put you off as you need to try this restaurant at least once!

  • Stayed: May 2012
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2  Thank sturoo83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Summer Isles Hotel and Restaurant

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: $134 - $302 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Summer Isles Hotel and Restaurant 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
The Summer Isles Hotel And Restaurant Achiltibuie, Scotland

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