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“Absolutely lovely stay in Islay at the Island Bear”

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The Island Bear Bed and Breakfast
Ranked #9 of 13 Bowmore B&B and Inns
London
1 review
“Absolutely lovely stay in Islay at the Island Bear”
Reviewed March 7, 2013

We were a group of friends who, after talking about it for a long time, popped up to Islay for a weekend and a bit of a whisky pilgrimmage. We debated about various places to stay, and although the Island Bear was very new, and not yet reviewed on tripadvisor or by the tourism board we were very lucky that Bobby had room for our reasonable sized group.

The place is perfectly located in Bowmore to allow easy access to the any region of the island, and very easy to find on the main street (although Bowmore pretty small anyway!). The rooms themselves were absolutely lovely, and you can tell Bobby has worked tremendously hard on them. As we took up each room that Bobby had, I can vouch that they are all a decent enough size and all well appointed. Most importantly they were comfortable.

Bobby whipped us up a fantastic breakfast each day and was very helpful both leading up to our visit and during. We will definitely be trying to get back to Islay, and I will be doing my best to make sure Bobby has room for us again!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank London_Wombat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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58 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
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English first
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2013 via mobile

We had been looking for a place to stay on Islay, and wanted somewhere in Bowmore for it's central location. We scoured the internet, and The Island Bear website cropped up. It was still under construction, but it featured some really nice pictures of the rooms and a quick check of the map showed it to be in a central location in Bowmore (Bowmore is quite small, so everything is pretty central). Islay is a welcoming, friendly place, and The Island Bear is right up there in the hospitality stakes. Bobby is a very accommodating host. Breakfast is at a time to suit the guest instead of at a time to suit the house. There are several options available, including cereals and juice if you don't fancy sausage,bacon,eggs etc, or all of the above if you feel hungry. The food is all locally sourced too. The rooms are spotlessly clean, and very well appointed. I got the impression that Bobby was waiting out of sight until we had left the room so the towels could be changed. One morning, heading out to the bus stop to catch the Royal Mail delivery van (really, a couple of the bus journeys each day are handled by the delivery van) to a distillery, it looked as though we may fall foul of the incredibly complicated bus timetable and miss the bus. Bobby's immediate reaction was to offer to drive us where we needed to go. Brilliant.
The Island Bear didn't do evening meals, but there were several nearby restaurants including The Harbour and The Holy Coo, and round the corner was The Bowmore Hotel, aka "Lucci's". The portions there were massive, and the Saturday night we visited turned into quite a session in their malt lounge.
Islay is a quiet place, a welcome change of pace from city, or even small town, living. People still say "hello" to strangers as they pass in the street, and motorists wave at each other as they pass.
I would recommend Islay to anyone looking for a relaxing break, and would definitely recommend The Island Bear as your base.
By the way, the TV is not complicated to operate, and during our visit there was no card machine for payment. That's probably remedied now though.
Bobby, thanks for a great stay.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank William H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Germany
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 6, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed an overnight stay at The Island Bear Bed and Breakfast in Bowmore on Islay. It was the best B&B we had the pleasure to stay in during our trip to Scotland. At the time of our visit in October 2012, The Island Bear had been open for only a couple of months. It was fortunate that there were available rooms for our party of three, as we had not booked in advance as we kept an open itinerary on this trip to the islands. The room rate was comparable to at least two other hotels in the area. The Island Bear is located on a main thoroughfare and is a few metres away from the Bowmore distillery and The Harbour Inn. It's a great location if you plan to drive around Islay. The rooms were well-appointed and faultlessly tidy, with fresh and crisp beddings and a large comfortable bed. The toilet and bath was clearly new and, more importantly, clean. The interior design and decoration made the most efficient use of space. Breakfast (the full Scottish, of course!) was generous and hearty, and the service friendly and helpful. What I enjoyed the most was that the owner had put in wonderful and subtle design touches to the place, including a recurring nautical theme, a collection of antique furniture, Islay slate table decor, beautiful photographs of Islay scenery (artfully taken by the owner himself), and a fantastic tartan that was used in various rooms throughout the B&B. These careful details were certainly not lost on us and I would even say this aspect elevated the B&B experience from simply good to excellent. It made staying at The Island Bear a treat, and it's wonderful to find something so lovely on Islay. We would love to visit again.

Room Tip: There are only three rooms at The Island Bear. Only one has twin beds.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank V R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
Reviewed October 19, 2012

The Island Bear is a small and very nice B&B in the middle of Bowmore. The full scottish breakfast is very good and there are also cereals, yoghurts and fruits available. We had agreat stay here. An ideal place to stay when exploring the whiskies and the countryside of Islay. Thanks!

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank dcangst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Campbeltown, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
81 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2012

As someone who works away from home on a regular basis my lodging preference is always to use 4* guest houses that I find to be much more homely, comfortable and better value for money than the majority of Scottish hotels.
The Island Bear, how quirky is that, has not yet been graded but during my three night stay I found it to be as good as the graded 4* establishments on Islay and the mainland. I had a large double room with a very comfortable bed with Islay Woolen Mill furnishings, good central heating, satellite TV and well equipped hospitality tray. Although the room was directly above the line of Shore Street there was very little traffic noise and it had the bonus of a view over Loch Indaal towards Gruinart.
In addition, you don't have to stray far for an evening meal with the Lochside Hotel across the road, an Indian restaurant a few doors along, the Harbour Inn just around the corner and the world (in)famous Lucci's about 400 metres to the rear.
In summary, this is a good addition to the growing number of quality accommodations on Islay and I will be happy to return at any time.

Room Tip: If you are a technophobe like me, ask Bobby how to operate the TV.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank thebooler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bobby W, Owner at The Island Bear Bed and Breakfast, responded to this review, October 15, 2012
Many thanks for that! It's great to know that 14 months of blood, sweat and planning departments were all worth it!!
Re. the tv controls - I actually wrote instructions for guests but they ended up looking like a user manual for the starship Enterprise - Even Mr Spock would have had difficulties! - so yes, just ask.
You think the name's quirky? - just wait until the decorating's finished!!
Bobby
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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 The Island Bear Bed and Breakfast

Property: The Island Bear Bed and Breakfast
Address: The Island Bear Shore Street, Bowmore PA43 7LB, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > The Hebrides > Islay > Bowmore
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 13 B&Bs / Inns in Bowmore
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Island Bear bed and breakfast is an ideal place to stay on your visit to Islay. Centrally located on Shore Street in Bowmore it is easy to find and is perfectly positioned for all the necessary holiday conveniences. The Island Bear is open all year. The Island Bear is not big but we feel this enables us to give you more individual attention. We have 3 en-suite bedrooms - two doubles and one twin/double, and a large dining and lounge room which gives you plenty of room to enjoy your breakfast or relax in comfort after a busy day. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Island Bear Bed And Breakfast Bowmore, Islay

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