If you have ever considered a holiday with a difference, then Scotland’s Outer Hebrides may offer you a unique opportunity to discover the very heart of Gaelic culture. The Isle of Lewis is the largest of the many islands that make up the Outer Hebrides archipelago (also known as the Western Isles). Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis is the main town and administrative center of the region, and as such is also the most densely populated area.
The Isle of Lewis has a long and eventful history that has helped make the population a resilient race with strong religious beliefs that instill an inherent knowledge of right and wrong. Continually swimming against the tides of change, the islanders struggle to maintain their unique lifestyle, almost continuously. More recently, the native language of Gaelic has received the attention many believe it deserves and it is now common to see street names and other signs in this language, but often with a much smaller English translation underneath. While some initially objected, this change is now believed to have aided the campaign to bring Gaelic to the fore, and in doing so, projects such as this have helped create greater uniqueness.
The islands of the Outer Hebrides are incredible, with spectacular scenery ranging from towering rocky mountains to soft golden beaches and lush machair, there is plenty to keep any amateur photographer busy for a few weeks. If you’re lucky, you may even see some of the many rare species of flora and fauna that survive well on the islands, but one thing is for sure, you can’t help but enjoy Gaelic culture. Interestingly, of all the Stornoway hotels, only one has any real character, as all the other old hotels are long gone. The Royal Hotel was built around 1850 and is a fine building just a minute or two from the center of Stornoway. From the front of the building it is clear that this is the most historic hotel in the city and inside, in the rooms facing the front, many of the period features have been preserved. While the Royal may be historic, it’s no slouch in forward thinking and its successful HS1 Cafe Bar is testament to that. In addition to HS1, the hotel also has the Boatshed Restaurant where you can enjoy the most refined food.
Both the Caladh Inn and the Caberfeidh Hotel are located on the outskirts of the city. The Caladh Inn is a short walk from the center of Stornoway via the airport road (making it the closest hotel). This is the largest of all the Stornoway hotels, but not that large compared to some of the hotels available on the mainland. With just 66 rooms, it can measure the size of the other hotels, as well as the Caladh. It is a thoroughly modern hotel with all the facilities and services of a first-class hotel, including many business services such as photocopying, faxing and wireless broadband, making it a perfect place for the visiting businessman as well as the tourists.
The Caberfeidh Hotel is on the road out of Stornoway heading towards Harris. The hotel has long held the title of being the best hotel in town and they continually work to improve the building as well as their service (which is always of the highest quality). Like other Stornoway hotels, the Caberfeidh offers free wireless broadband and other business services, but this hotel has the best conference facilities with a number of very suitable function rooms. As well as being used for business meetings and conferences, Caberfeidh is also a very popular venue for wedding celebrations and they have recently introduced a full wedding service. For the tourist the Hotel Caberfeidh offers splendid accommodation in wonderful surroundings. Set back from the road in its own manicured gardens, the hotel is the most relaxing of them all. Its gardens feature a number of beautiful mature trees and although large trees are generally a rarity on the islands, the Caberfeidh faces the woodland grounds of Lews Castle where there are hundreds of trees of a wide range of species. If you decide to stay at this hotel, you really must drive down the road for at least an hour or two to see how beautiful these gardens really are. Of special note is the Creed River which flows through the grounds and looks amazing in all weathers.