Posted by: christinelaennec | April 20, 2014

The Harris Hotel in Tarbert, Isle of Harris

I had a simply wonderful stay at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert.  It’s a place we’ve often gone for a coffee during our family holidays, and we once stayed there overnight, unexpectedly, when the weather prevented us from getting across the Sound of Harris to the Uists as planned.  It’s a family-run hotel, and has much to recommend it.

As a gardener, I particularly love the huge front garden, which the entire front of the hotel looks onto.

The Harris Hotel, Tarbert - view of the front of the hotel, from the road.  April 2014.

The Harris Hotel, Tarbert – view of the front of the hotel, from the road. April 2014.

It was a bit too chilly during my stay to sit on one of the benches – but I enjoyed watching some children play a long game of hide-and-seek one morning in the garden.

The Harris Hotel, Tarbert.  April 2014.

The Harris Hotel, Tarbert. April 2014.

The first night of my stay there was a wedding on (though the cèilidh was held at the Community Centre, so all was quiet by evening).  It was great to see the wedding party in their finery and kilts, and when I came in from my evening walk, a piper was playing:

Wedding piper, the Harris Hotel.  April 2014.

Wedding piper, the Harris Hotel. April 2014.

I really enjoyed my breakfasts in the peaceful dining room.  I often sat at the table on the right (below), looking into the garden.  I don’t go in for humongous cooked breakfasts, but other people had plates laden with black pudding, potato scones, eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes.  I was very happy with hot tea (with a second pot for boiling water – Lorna would approve!), cereal, scrambled egg, and toast with marmalade.  Still quite a lot to eat!

Dining room at the Harris Hotel, April 2014.

Dining room at the Harris Hotel, April 2014.

In the hallway is a window pane that used to be in the dining room.  In 1912, J.M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) visited the hotel, and scratched his initials on the glass:

Celebrity vandalism:  J.M. Barrie wuz ere in 1912.

Celebrity vandalism: J.M. Barrie wuz ere in 1912.

It’s interesting to imagine what the hotel was like 100 years ago.  Probably not hugely different in the essentials, I imagine.  There’s a very nice old-fashioned quality about the Harris Hotel which I really like.

The hotel has several lounge areas, as well as a bar.  I enjoyed some quiet reading and knitting in the big lounge that runs across most of the front of the hotel.  The window with the plant in it looks over to the ferry terminal, and I’m sure you could watch the ferry coming and going from here.

One of the lounges of the Harris Hotel.

One of the lounges of the Harris Hotel.

The chairs, you may notice, are all upholstered in Harris Tweed.  I loved their shape, and the variety of colours of tweed.  (I’ll write a separate post about tweed, for fellow textile-enthusiasts.)

View of the garden from the lounge of the Harris Hotel - note the Harris Tweed uphostery!  April 2014.

View of the garden from the lounge of the Harris Hotel – note the Harris Tweed uphostery! April 2014.

Below is another view of the garden, from just outside the front door.  It was so pretty with the daffodils, and the cherry trees must be very lovely when in blossom:

Garden of the Harris Hotel from the front door, April 2014.

Garden of the Harris Hotel from the front door, April 2014.

As you’ll know if you’ve ever spent time on the Outer Hebrides, trees are a bit of a rarity.  The garden is sheltered enough that these have grown quite tall and old – and look at how they lean against the wall.  That probably indicates the direction of the prevailing wind.

Trees along the wall, the Harris Hotel, April 2014.

Trees along the wall, the Harris Hotel, April 2014.

The staff at the hotel were so very friendly and helpful.  When I arrived, the lady behind the desk offered to carry my suitcase up to my room, for which, with my somewhat tricky back, I was extremely grateful.  I was told if I preferred fresh milk for making tea in my room, they would be happy to fetch me a pitcher, though I didn’t bother with this (as just being on holiday on my own was quite amazing enough!).  It seemed nothing was too much trouble – they answered all my questions, and chatted with me about my various excursions and the weather.  The dining room staff and the chambermaids were all chatty and friendly, which I really appreciated.

On Sunday, I returned drenched after a mere 10-minute walk back from church:

Soaking wet!  But well looked-after.

Soaking wet! But well looked-after.

They immediately took my raincoat (raincoat number one, I should add – I was very glad I’d brought two) and put it in their special drying room.  In a place like Harris, you must need a drying room!  I daresay if I’d wanted newspaper for the insides of my wet shoes they would have given me plenty.

When I’d originally made the booking, they had warned me that the hotel doesn’t actually overlook the sea.  I already knew this, having been there.  I think their sheltered location, which is just a minute’s walk from the centre of the village and the ferry terminal, and right on the main road to and from Stornoway, is ideal.

Full moon over Tarbert, April 2014.

Full moon over the Harris Hotel in Tarbert, April 2014.

I showed you my room at the end of yesterday’s post; it wasn’t the most expensive room, and I thought it was just lovely.  It had good wifi reception as well, which I appreciated. I’d booked a few months ahead, and I was very glad I did!    When I left, they told me that they were fully booked for the next few weeks.  Lots of photographers coming to the Isle of Harris this spring, apparently.

It was a real luxury for me to stay for four nights in a hotel, but I loved every minute of it.  Travelling on my own, it was nice to know there were other people about (though it was very quiet), and it was great to be able to pop in and out throughout the day, depending on the weather.  If the weather had been dire, or I’d been really exhausted, I would have been happy to stay there all day long.

A big thank-you to the Harris Hotel!  Ceud mìle taing!

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Responses

  1. It’s so beautiful and green! We’re still getting snowfall every now and then in my city so the lawns are all very brown…

  2. Looks lovely – what a huge garden! And the mention of one J.M. Barrie almost made me burst!xo

  3. Really interesting, thank you. We have driven past so many times, but never visited. x

  4. Wow! That hotel looks exactly like my sort of place. I would want to linger for hours over endless cups of coffee in the dining room near the window, and read War and Peace (or more readable equivalent) sitting on the Harris Tweed chairs (despite never being aware that there was such a thing as Harris tweed or knowing that there’s any other sort of tweed, or what indeed “tweed” is). Not to mention rambles through the gardens and down to the water – although I wouldn’t be brave like you and go out in the rain.

    How lovely and peaceful. Would I think of Michael and the Dafter? Perhaps briefly.

  5. What lovely chairs, and very aptly upholstered. Your breakfast sounds spot on to me, it’s one of the nicest things about staying in a hotel or B&B, I think, getting your breakfast all done for you. And when they bring extra water with the tea – perfect! 🙂 The Harris Hotel looks like an ideal escape and a great place to go on your own. I’m delighted to hear that the staff were so friendly and helpful.

  6. Sound perfect for your holiday – am excited to see what you’re going to show us next. I can just imagine the cosy atmosphere of the hotel. What bliss to have your own space and also to have the social life there to be observed.
    The cooked breakfast sounds perfect to me – we’re a ‘full Scottish [breakfast]’ family on holiday if there’s walking involved to burn it off afterwards!

  7. I have only ever driven past not yet stayed there, sounds an amazing place to stay. I loved the Harris tweed upholstery I myself have a softness for Harris tweed and love to make a wide variety of things with it including brooches.

  8. Reading your posts is the next best thing to actually being able to do this myself. 🙂 Everything looks delightful — the garden, the dining room, the offer of fresh milk for tea….etc. What a gift this was!

  9. What a lovely place and time, thank you so much for sharing with us.

  10. I enjoyed every minute of this lovely post! 🙂 xxx

  11. Thank you everyone! I’m glad you could enjoy the Harris Hotel along with me. If you get a chance, go stay there!

    oldblack, thank you for the laugh. One of the reasons I was able to relax so well was that I was able to keep in touch with home, and I knew that things there were fine.


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