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“The warmest welcome”
Review of Northbay House

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Northbay House
Ranked #4 of 15 Isle of Barra B&B and Inns
Winchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“The warmest welcome”
Reviewed April 22, 2014

Not your usual 'run of the mill' B&B and not your usual 'run of the mill' hosts. Mary and Graham were our lovely landlady and landlord who were helpful and friendly from the very first contact by e-mail a few months earlier. They have a very well deserved reputation that has clearly put this guest house top of the bill. The room was comfortable and scrupulously clean and upstairs was a sitting area with armchairs and a settee and a small television where we were able to relax inbetween walks and exploring the island. I would suggest getting your hand on a car even for a day or so but there are very limited numbers available so make sure you contact Hugh (car hire, postman and island mechanic) in good time as the complicated bus timetables can have even the most professional of timetable enthusiasts scuppered! (eh Busby?). Who could fail to enthralled by the beach plane landing and the seals (yes, you really do sing to them) are a pure delight. We felt very relaxed in this unusual former schoolhouse and look forward to heading back someday to the friendliness of the owners and everyone we met. Everyone, literally everyone, waves and bids you 'good day' as you pass on the road and we left having met some memorable characters and enjoying the company of our fellow guests (hello to Andy and sue) with a glass of wine, or two.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank susiewoo1966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mary B, Owner at Northbay House, responded to this review, May 13, 2014
Thank you very much for your lovely review. We are so pleased you had such a great time on Barra and the information you have passed on will be extremely useful to future travellers.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Auchterarder, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
31 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed April 19, 2014

Stayed in this exceptional B&B for five nights and had a brilliant time. Mary and Graham were very friendly, informative and kind throughout our stay - without being the least bit intrusive. As a former school, Northbay House has a great deal of character and history, but the facilities for guests are first rate and includes a small lounge with TV. The breakfasts were excellent, whilst afternoon scones and jam were a 'wee' bonus.
Graham and Mary's knowledge and passion for Barra is clearly evident, but for us a trip to 'sing' to the seals was a real highlight. Our hosts are both very musical - so if you fancy an Hungarian waltz at breakfast time, you only have to ask ... Northbay House is a place to unwind, relax, have a laugh and make new friends (hi Susie and Nigel). We will certainly return.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank BuzbyandSue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mary B, Owner at Northbay House, responded to this review, April 20, 2014
Well, thank you both for your kind words.......honestly, the pleasure was all ours. We should thank you for being the perfect guests to open our 2014 season. Seal bay was such fun and it was amazing how close they came, so your singing must have been just at the right pitch. Looking forward to welcoming you back to Barra one day. Best wishes, Graham and Mary.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Largs
Level Contributor
55 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed October 22, 2013

All the five star reviews are true. Tripadvisor should have a six star category just for Northbay House. We spent two nights at Northbay House at the end of an island hopping holiday. Mary and Graham must be the most genuinely naturally friendly and helpful hosts anywhere. The B&B is quirky and characterful, being and old schoolhouse. The perfect base when visiting Barra.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank fairliered
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed October 1, 2013

It's sometimes a little tempting to think that a B&B with such consistently high praise must have a lot of relatives who visit, or friends in the mafia, or own the majority of shares in Tripadvisor... but it really is true: Northbay House B&B is close to perfect.

We stayed for 3 nights at Northbay on the first leg of an island hopping trip, much as our hosts Graham and Mary had done some twenty years before when THEY stayed at Northbay House as their first stopover. They told us they'd returned almost every year for many years before a combination of circumstances ended up with them buying the place a few years ago. We even felt a slight tingle that everybody that stays here wants to come back time and time again until they eventually buy it!

It's easy to say "warm welcome" but more than that we felt that Mary and Graham were such genuine people, used to establishing a rapport with people (they both used to teach) very quickly and genuinely. Rather than giving a "standard warm welcome" you felt you could easily develop a good friendship with these folk, they were attuned to what you said and what you felt without being in any way ingratiating or gushing or in the reverse direction, just coolly efficient.

I wrote in the guest book on our final morning that as we continued on our trip to other islands, we rather wished we could take Northbay House with us, because we both felt that our upcoming B&B stays in the Western Isles couldn't match this one on Barra. Highlight of the stay was on the last morning after breakfast when Graham and Mary did something together that was unique, lovely, and joyfully impromptu...but I promised not to reveal what it was in case every guest comes to expect it as standard fare.

Our double bedroom was snug and comfortable with the most fabulous duvet I've ever slept under, but the best feature of the room was a delightful first floor gallery lounge, quite small but perfect in every way, with views up the small sea loch outside the front of the house. The whole setup was more like a mini-suite than a B&B room. Mary was generous with the coffee and wonderful home-made fruit cake on arrival. The breakfasts were superb, and served in relaxing and spacious surroundings at one end of the huge family lounge, complete with grand piano, with wonderful views to the East from the front of the house.

Northbay House used to be the school, and Graham and Mary have a transcribed set of extracts from the headmaster's official reports covering the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Reading the trials and tribulations of the poor headmaster dealing with storms, incomplete classrooms and assistant teachers who insisted on speaking Gaelic when giving orders to the children brought the building's history to life. Had A J Cronin worked in education rather than in medicine, I could see this would be good source material for a pedagogical version of Dr Finlay's Casebook.

We love Barra (after two whole visits) and can see ourselves returning. If we do, we'll go back to Northbay House.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank David S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
41 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed September 30, 2013

There is very little that I can add to the praise poured on both Mary and Graham and their wonderful B&B by other reviewers. The welcome was so warm. Both of our hosts were most willing to share their local knowledge on things to do, places to see and places to eat. This, in addition to the huge range of relevant reference material available for our perusal, meant we were ever short of local knowledge. The rooms were spacious and beds extremely comfortable. My father and I had booked both rooms in the main part of the house and as a result had a bright relaxing sitting room and TV for our sole use. Sitting there at the end of a tiring day with a cup of tea and a piece of Mary’s cake or a scone made us feel very much at home.

I cannot recommend Northbay House highly enough. Mary and Graham set our B&B expectations for our trip through the Hebrides very high and were not beaten anywhere for warmth of welcome and comfort. Should my travels bring me back to Barra, I will definitely be calling Mary and Graham.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank 437janei
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cornwall, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
161 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
Reviewed September 21, 2013

As so many reviewers have said the warm welcome from Mary and Graham is one of the highlights of a stay at Northbay House. In fact I would go so far as to say it is unique. Yes it is one of the facets of a good B&B that you get a friendly welcome - well if you want the impersonal touch go to a chain hotel - but the relationship between guests and proprietors here is special and unique. Particularly enjoyable were the post-breakfast chats culminating on two occasions with a piano duet. As I said at the time it's a case of bed, breakfast and Brahms. As far as the practicalities are concerned most things work well and particularly notable is the ground floor bedroom which has a huge bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bath - very suitable for disabled guests I would think. There is no TV in the room but there is a very comfortable lounge area with TV up a short flight of stairs from the ground floor room. This is also used by the occupants of the first floor room. Northbay House is situated a few miles out of Castlebay in an attractive, quiet and sheltered location. This sometimes means that WiFi does not always work.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank ColdstreamKeith
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Preston
Level Contributor
58 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed September 16, 2013

The profile generated by previous reviewers in many ways speaks for itself. As so many before us, we found Northbay House an ideal location and Mary and Graham most considerate hosts. We stayed in the self-catering apartment and the views from both the dining area and the upstairs lounge were lovely. There are pleasant areas to explore from the front door, good food at the Heathbank Hotel/pub about 10/15 minute walk away and once you've worked out the bus timetable (which can be a bit complex!) then it's very easy to get to other parts of the island if you've chosen not to bother with a car. Judging from previous reviews (and the delicious cake and scones Mary kindly provided) and I think our only mistake was in not trying to persuade Mary to let us join the B&B guests for breakfast!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Rovers09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Northbay House

Property: Northbay House
Address: Morghan, HS9 5UT, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > The Hebrides > Outer Hebrides > Isle of Barra
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in Isle of Barra
Number of rooms: 2
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Northbay House is a sympathetic conversion of the former Victorian school at Morgan. Situated at the head of Loch na h-Obbe, this is a quiet and sheltered location from which to explore the beautiful Island of Barra. Visitors are welcome to sit in the mature gardens, overlooking the loch or when the weather is wild, relax in the cosy lounge with a selection of books and magazines. The ground floor en-suite twin room is suitable for wheelchair users, with a large, wet-room style bathroom and level access to the breakfast room, but not the upstairs lounge. The first floor, en-suite double room retains the original window design, at floor level. All rooms have generous hospitality trays and there is a wide choice for breakfast. Home baking is offered either in the afternoon or at suppertime. Free WiFi is available 24 hours although the signal varies in bad weather! The local bus passes the end of the drive and we are within 10 minutes walk of the Heathbank Hotel which serves excellent meals. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Northbay House Isle Of Barra, Scotland

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