WHY STAY? This two-bedroom house to rent is a refreshingly funky place for a books-in-front-of-the-fire winter escape on the Isle of Skye, one of the most beautiful corners of the country.
WHAT IS IT? An adorably kitschy cottage on the edge of Loch Harport on the island’s wild west coast,
BEHIND THE SCENES – This Hebridean hideaway is owned by husband and wife Chris and Emma Whyte who still travel here from their home in Oxford on biannual family breaks. Scottish Chris grew up holidaying on Skye. Emma is behind the colourful, mid-century interiors; her design business sells the upcycled furniture featuring flashes of Orla Kiely prints that pepper the cottage And she’s just finished another holiday home in the Pyrenees in a ‘French farmhouse meets Seventies disco’ style.
SLEEP – An original Fifties cabinet found in the coal shed was the starting point for the nostalgic decor in this two-up, two-down. There are plenty of nods to nature with one wall in the double bedroom papered in pages from an old Trees and Shrubs book; the others are hung with clusters of bird-themed art, and a bronze eagle stands guard next to the retro radio on the teak dressing table.
The twin-bed is aimed at kids, big or small, with Beano annuals stacked on the nightstand and knitted patchwork quilts on the beds, A not-so-secret door leads to the loft, where there’s an old trunk full of DVDs and a projector for film nights under a blanket. There’s also a powerful telescope for stargazing; you might even catch the northern lights.
EAT – At lunchtime, walk up the hill to The Oyster Shed, where Glaswegian Paul McGlynn shucks them for just £1 a pop. There’s also fat, pink grilled lobster, and juicy scallops the size of golf balls, all served with chips and, on a fair day, priceless Cuillin views. After dark, Carbost’s Old Inn serves caught-that-morning mackerel and smoky venison burgers with a side of traditional music played by a couple of bearded chaps. And be sure to have a bottle of Talisker whisky’ waiting back at the cottage for a nightcap nip (the distillery is across the road).
WHO COMES HERE? Outdoorsy weekenders from Glasgow who’ve come to bag a Munro (the 12 in the Cuillin range are considered the hardest to climb in Scotland); foodies championing Scorrybreac as the next restaurant on Skye to get a Michelin star; and the occasional American family on an ancestral tour of the Highlands. Not that you’ll have to share a breakfast table with any of them, mind.
WE LIKE – That even on the dreichest day, the cheering decor feels like a blast of sunshine.
WE DON’T LIKE – During the day the tourist traffic to the distillery can detract from the intended edge-of-the-world feeling.