Monday, 17 August 2009

The Top 5 most beautiful surroundings for accommodation

Some accommodation establishments are very lucky. They don't need to do very much to wow their guests...the scenery does it for them.

1. MacDonald Hotel in Kinlochleven, just south of Fort William in Scotland. This area is otherworldly. A long, thin loch with inky-black water, guarded on either side by the brooding Ben Nevis mountain range. The town is at the end of a road, and you really do feel like you're in Lord of the Rings.

2. The Cottage Hotel in Hope Cove, England. Unknown to many local tourists, Hope Cove is what I've always imagined a seaside fishing village in Britain to be. Small, remote, away from the main roads, craggy coast, stormy sea,'s a must-do.

3. Worm's Head Hotel on Rhossili Peninsula, Wales. This hotel looks out over miles of beach, and the Worm's Head island just offshore. It's an untouched area, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

4. Thistle House in St Catherine's, near Inveraray in Scotland. Wake up to a view with Inveraray Castle reflecting on the mirror surface of the loch. 'Nuff said.

5. Castle Cottage, in Harlech, Wales. To the right is Mount Snowdon, in front is a loooong and wild beach, and to the left is the regal Harlech Castle (a World Heritage Site). Sit in Castle Cottage's bar and stare at all of this, then tell me there isn't a divinity of some sort.

It's very tough to leave the following out...Eddrachilles Hotel (Scourie, Scotland), Corriegour Lodge (Spean Bridge, Scotland), Torridon Inn (Torridon, Scotland), Dunchraigaig Guest House(Kilmartin, Scotland), The Ship Inn (Mousehole, Cornwall) and Cornerways (St Ives, Cornwall) and on the white cliffs of Dover, Varne Ridge.

Top 5 best value accommodation on my trip around the coast of Britain

"Value" is a relative term. You can have the best view from your room, but if the service ain't good...well, it just doesn't work as a package. And because travellers value different things at different values (if you follow me!), it's awful difficult to provide a bullet-proof list...So the following places were great value to me...

Factors I considered were price (obviously), scenery, service, cleanliness, decor, food, friendliness...and the undefinable X-factor, which can be little things like a manager's hearty laugh, or a glass of sherry next to your bed, or home made jams at breakfast, or a phone call after you've left, saying "thanks for coming, it was great to have you to stay"...

1. Eddrachilles Hotel, in Scourie, northwest Scotland. Beautiful location in the lochs and mountains, spick-and-span rooms, and excellent food. All for £60 a person a night (high-season), including room, breakfast and a fine three course dinner.

2. Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove, England. The hotel sits on the hill that overlooks the harbour and bay, and okay, the simple hotel food ain't gourmet, but it suits the setting...somehow it would seem wrong to eat haute cuisine in a village that survives on a daily catch. £60 a person a night (high-season), including room, breakfast and three-course dinner.

3. Lowther House, Whitehaven, England. For £40 a night, you'll get the smartest accommodation on the coast of Britain and the best breakfast (seriously). I can imagine heads of state staying here, and being quite comfortable...the rooms are huge, and the bathrooms are too. And it was the cleanest I experienced.

4. Cornerways, St Ives, England. For between £25 and £40 a person a night, you get slick accommodation in the middle of the labyrinthe of St Ive's cobbled streets and a very good breakfast. Trust me, this is cheap for St Ives...

5. Varne Ridge Holiday Park, Dover, England. This isn't a hotel, nor a guest's got a couple of mobile homes which are very comfortable, and kitted out with everything you need for a self-catering holiday. Including flatscreen TV with all the channels - not that you'll watch them, because you'll probably be staring out across the English Channel. On average, you'll pay about £15 a person a night for a family of four...and these rates come down the longer you stay.