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Scottish Islands Summer 2019 Without a Car? Look For Hotels NOW!

I knew from reading older posts in this forum that Scotland is very popular in the summer and lodging on the islands is tight. However, I had to figure out how much time I wanted to spend in Edinburgh and Glasgow before I could pin down my island timing. I am here to warn that December 15, 2018, is too late to look for island lodgings for July 2019 if you need a place with good bus service, though things will be just a bit easier for folks looking for double rooms rather than twins.

I will continue to prospect in hopes of improving on some of the choices I have been forced to make. At this point I'm in Oban rather than Tobermory (Mull). I was incredibly lucky to find something in Portree (Skye) last night.

Yes, I know; it would be a lot easier with a car. Can't do it.

Posted by
2564 posts

Wow, thanks for the warning! I hope your prospecting will turn up some gems. If you know certain places where you'd really like to stay but are booked, you might call or email them every couple of weeks to ask if they have any cancellations.

Posted by
16766 posts

Yes, I think it's worth the effort to keep checking, because I'm sure some folks book very, very early (maybe during a 2018 vacation to the same area) and then find their plans change.

Unfortunately, most of the island properties are very small, so they're less likely to have sudden availability than a large property. And we need a place right in town, since we won't have a car.

Posted by
901 posts

Hi, acraven,

Try contacting the properties directly by telephone. There must be some event going on on Mull during that third week in July. The Park Lodge Hotel in Tobermory has only one twin available that week, and only for one day (July 15th.). As you said, these reservations may be from people who stayed there this year, and made bookings way ahead of time for next year.

I was in Broadford this past July, and there was a man staying at our B&B with his niece. They were staying in a twin. As the twin was booked for someone else for the next night, they needed twin lodging somewhere on Skye. Between our landlady and the TI office in Portree, they could find no twin accommodation anywhere on Skye. The couple had to retreat to the mainland. Scotland has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination, and unfortunately, no new accommodation is being built outside of the central belt and Aberdeen.

Keep trying. The Caol-Ithe B&B in Fionnphort has a twin available during your time frame. It would be convenient if you're visiting Iona, and it's right on the bus line. The twin isn't en-suite, but you have your own bathroom across the hall. It's a very nice B&B; under new ownership since our last stay there, but very good reviews on Trip Advisor. Fionnphort is a good place to watch the sun set over Iona, and the Caol-Ithe is about a five minute walk from the ferry.

Good luck!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
16766 posts

Thanks, Mike. I'll keep poking around online. It's difficult to vet places that aren't on a major booking platform like booking.com. First you have to know they exist, then you have to know they have twin rooms, then you have to find reviews to be sure they are at least passably OK. Only then is it worth the effort of sending an inquiry.

Posted by
901 posts

Hi again, acraven,

I hate to see you miss out on Tobermory. Check out www.tobermory.co.uk/accommodation/bed-and-breakfast/ You can check the long list of B&Bs; go to their websites to see if they have twin rooms; consult Trip Advisor for ratings; go back to the website to find out if they have availability for your dates; and call or e-mail to make a booking.

I should warn you that Tobermory is hilly. A B&B might say that it's a five minute walk from the harbour, but those five minutes might be downhill, with a hilly walk back. So it might be 10 minutes back up. They're not steep hills, but if you get a B&B on one of the streets paralleling the harbour, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views. There is a taxi service on Mull which advertises the fact that they will drive people from the harbour to their B&B "up the hill."

You could also try phoning directly to the TI office in Tobermory. I've found TI offices very handy in calling from the U.S. to find accommodation in solidly booked areas. I've even made friends with B&B owners I discovered this way. We still exchange Christmas cards.

So don't give up on Tobermory/Mull.

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
16766 posts

Thank you; I promise I haven't given up (yet). The terrain is a concern. I did see a few places with availability that were too long a walk back uphill for someone with iffy knees. Not a problem if you have a car, but if you don't and you're staying for 3 nights, it could be an issue. There are places that would be quite a bit easier to manage than the Hebrides and Edinburgh, but this trip is to Scotland, not Ravenna, Padua and Vicenza--places I always recommend to folks taking elderly relatives to Italy.

Posted by
458 posts

You may also find that some smaller providers like B&Bs haven't yet opened up availability for July 2019. We are a very small B&B on Skye and haven't yet decided when we want to take our own holidays and so haven't opened up for bookings yet. I know we are not alone!

Posted by
16766 posts

You know, I was wondering about that since I saw the Grasshoppers hotel in Glasgow doesn't have any available rooms for the entire summer!

That's encouraging news; we'll just have to be persistent and patient, I guess.