Review: Toravaig House Hotel

It is four seasons in one day for Rosie Morton as she reviews Skye’s Toravaig House Hotel.


The journey to Skye from Auld Reekie is always a total pleasure. It is (with requisite pit stops at my favourite haunts) a six-hour trip that is the landscape equivalent of a five-star tasting menu – peppered with some of the bonniest, most eclectic views that Caledonia has to offer.

Pit stops don’t get much bonnier than this. [Credit: Rosie Morton]


Of course, this is often considered the mere appetiser when compared to my destination. The explosion of interest in Skye over the last decade – steeped as it is in romantic tales of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora Macdonald – means that the Misty Isle has never been busier. But that does not mean that hotels are resting on their laurels. If anything, it signifies that the competition is hotter than ever before.

My home was to be Toravaig, a nine-bedroom boutique hotel that is beautifully positioned on the Sleat Peninsula with south-facing views over the Sound of Sleat. It is one of three hotels in The Sonas Collection. (The other two include Duisdale, a Victorian mansion that was built in 1865, and Skeabost, which retains the fishing rights over much of the Snizort, one of the best salmon rivers on the island).

If I was to trust the weatherman, it was to be persistently vile for the duration of my trip. As is the island way, however, it proved predictably unpredictable, welcoming me with a light show as the sun broke through the clouds in dramatic fashion. Before checking in, I drove towards Armadale Castle (which was once the seat of the Macdonalds of Sleat), just ten minutes from Toravaig, to see if I could catch a glimpse of the resident otters along the shoreline. Perhaps they had slunk away for their supper, but the views were as other-worldly as I had remembered.

The spectacular Sound of Sleat.

Coorie down

The hotel was quaintly and quietly beautiful with its Ochil Anta rug, big bay window, and old curiosities in the main living area. I would argue that my room, ‘Berneray’, had one of the best views in the hotel. It looked over the water and on to Mallaig, which upon arrival was shrouded in a thin veil of mist.

The bedroom itself was cosy and had muted tweed accents, while the bathroom was modern and had an assortment of moisturisers, soaps and other accoutrements from Temple Spa. (Sadly Temple Spa isn’t Scottish, but the miniature bottle of Raasay whisky and box of Talisker whisky fudge that had been thoughtfully placed on my bed absolutely hit the spot).

Many of Toravaig’s rooms enjoy a view of the water.

Neil, the friendly face who welcomed me to the hotel, suggested a short stroll to Knock Castle ruins before the storm closed in. It was just a 15-minute walk, and the panoramic viewpoint (which I had to myself, save from some wandering sheep) was the perfect place from which to watch the sun disappear.

This was my fourth trip to Skye, and as I stood at Knock Castle I was reminded why this southern part of the island (frequently bypassed by visitors on the promise of Tolkien-esque mountains in the central and northern parts) remains my firm favourite. The storm hastily made its way over the horizon… It was time to head for home and ready myself for supper.

Sundown at Knock Castle ruins.



For a slap-up meal guests are encouraged to use the complimentary shuttle bus to Duisdale Hotel, where they can enjoy the 2 AA Rosette restaurant. My driver, Peter, whisked me up the road, and ten minutes later I was taking my pew in a beautiful, bustling dining room.

From 6-9pm, Duisdale entertains both residents of Sonas hotels and non-residents. The place was buzzing, and a couple from San Francisco who sat at the neighbouring table told me to expect good things. This was their third visit to the restaurant in as many nights. It seemed, to me, the sort of place you crave after a long, cold day on the hill.

The menu was packed with dishes inspired by the landscape. My starter of woodland pigeon with Isle of Skye black pudding, chicory and walnut (£10) was a case in point and was devoured with indecorous haste. The woody addition of the walnut, married with the sweetness of the chicory was heavenly.

Duisdale Hotel has a 2 AA Rosette restaurant.

Needless to say, local suppliers are the shining stars on Duisdale’s menu, with the likes of Fisherman’s Kitchen, Lochalsh Butchers (both based in Kyle) and Portree’s Just Hooked taking centre stage. The temptation of local venison with beetroot, bramble and chocolate (£34) was too much to resist for my main course. The chocolate was incredibly subtle, the meat melted in the mouth, and the bramble was beautifully tart. It was, without doubt, the clear winner of the night. I hasten to add, however, that saving space for dessert is a must. The apricot, Earl Grey, ginger cake and grapefruit pudd (£12) was a refreshing end to a decadent meal.

Apricot and Earl Grey pudding at Duisdale Hotel.

On the Sleat Peninsula you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options. Once you’ve tried Duisdale, you may wish to scope out Kinloch Lodge (headed up by the hugely talented head chef Jordan Webb), Eilean Iarmain’s Bar Am Pràban (which boasts a menu full of local produce, including venison shot on their estate), or Broadford’s Claymore Restaurant, all of which are within touching distance of Toravaig. That said, if plunging into the dark, stormy night isn’t for you, Toravaig does offer simple charcuterie or cheese boards.

The sound of rain thundering on my bedroom window aided a peaceful night’s sleep. In the morning, breakfast was served in the hotel dining room, where the full complement of hot and cold options were available (from 7.30-10am). A platter of mini croissants, pain au chocolat, toast, butter and jam was presented to me before I had even had a chance to look at the menu. I looked longingly at the eggs Benedict and full Scottish breakfast, but decided the yoghurt with berry compote and granola was more than enough after the previous evening’s gluttony. I wanted for nothing as this simple bowl of berry goodness was exactly what was required to kickstart the day.

Breakfast is served at Toravaig House Hotel.

Haste ye back

Time seems to pass faster on Skye than it does anywhere else. As I packed up my things, I realised once again that it is the people that make a place. Thanks to the genuine warmth of all members of staff, Toravaig certainly felt like a friendly home from home.

To find out more about Toravaig or to make a reservation, visit their WEBSITE
Alternatively, Duisdale and Skeabost details can be found HERE.
E: reservations@sonascollection.com
Tel: 01470 373 737