By Bryan Dearsley
Referred to by locals and savvy marketers alike as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, the beautiful Isle of Arran has a little bit of everything. Though measuring just 166 square miles, it’s a microcosm of all the very best bits of the mainland, making it an ideal place for visitors in need of a Scotland-fix.
From magnificent mountains and moorland that serve as home to an abundance of flora and wildlife, staggeringly beautiful coastline with sandy beaches and quaint fishing villages, plenty of castles to explore, excellent local food and drink (including a distillery), Arran really does have it all. It’s also surprisingly easy to get to thanks to Glasgow Airport, with its handy rail and ferry links (the island itself has a first-rate local bus service along with car rentals and taxis).
To help you get the best from your visit to the Isle of Arran, take a read of LuxuryUK’s handy guide to some of the best things to see and do on the island, as well as our tips for places to stay, dine and drink.
Where to Stay: The options are plentiful. From five star hotels to quaint B&Bs, Inn and luxury cottage rentals, visitors are well served when it comes to finding somewhere to lay their heads. A personal favourite is The Big Wooden House (), an exquisite self-catering home that sleeps up to 10 people. Built by an architect in 1938, this wonderfully preserved home overlooks Brodick Golf Club, and there’s not a disappointing view from any of its 43 windows. For something a little cozier, the cute-as-a-button Grenrof Cottage in Whiting Bay is a minute from the water, and just a short stroll to the golf course, buses, pubs and restaurants ().
Where to Eat: Gone are the days when British cuisine was something to sneer at. Arran boasts some of Scotland’s best dining, from tasty full-Scottish breakfasts to fresh fish pub suppers to fine dining. If you can, try to time your trip to coincide with the monthly Arran Supper Club () for a wonderful mix of fine food and wine a glass is provided, you bring the rest) and excellent company, and offers a unique chance to spend time with the locals while making new friends.
What to Do: Arran’s got some great pubs, including the Ormidale Hotel in Brodick (). It’s a fun mix of great food and drink, as well as dancing (the famous Saturday Disco), local music (Sunday’s) and quizzes (Trev’s Tuesday Pop Quiz). And while on the topic of libations, the Arran Distillery is a must (). Sample the distillery’s fine malts, take a tour, even buy yourself a cask, write your name on it, then come back and collect it 10 years down the road.
What to See: Expect to spend the best part of a day exploring Brodick Castle with its incredible collection of antiquities, iron age house and wonderful gardens (). Goat Fell, the 2,866ft mountain that dominates the island, is a must climb (if you’re fit enough). When you’re done, you’ll find yourself back at the Arran Brewery () for the most welcoming pint of your life.