If you have ever considered a vacation with a difference then the Outer Hebrides of Scotland may provide you with a unique opportunity to discover the very heartland of the Gaelic culture. The Isle of Lewis is largest of the many islands that make up the archipelago of the Outer Hebrides (also known as the Western Isles). Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, is the main town and administrative centre for the region and as such is also the most densely populated area.
The Isle of Lewis has a long and eventful history which has helped shape the populous into a hardy race with strong religious beliefs which instills an inherent knowledge of what is right or wrong. Continually swimming against the tides of change the islanders fight to keep their unique way of life on, an almost, continual basis. More recently the native tongue of Gaelic has received the attention that 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 beneath. While some initially objected it is now believed that this change has helped in the campaign to bring Gaelic to the fore and in doing so, projects like this, have helped to create further uniqueness.
The Islands of the Outer Hebrides are most incredible, with dramatic scenery ranging from massive rocky mountains to soft golden beaches and lush machair, there is much to keep any amateur photographer occupied for a few weeks. If you are lucky you may even see some of the many rare species of flora and fauna which survive well on the islands but one thing is for certain you can not avoid the enjoyment of the Gaelic culture. Strangely of all the Stornoway Hotels only one has any real character as all of the other old hotels have long since gone. The Royal Hotel was built around 1850 and is a fine building found just a minute or two from the very centre of Stornoway. From the front of the building it is clear that this is the town’s most historic hotel and inside, in the front facing rooms, much of the period features have been retained. While the Royal may be historic it is not backwards in forward thinking and their highly successful HS1 Cafe Bar is testimony to this. As well as HS1 the hotel also has the Boatshed Restaurant where you will be able to enjoy more refined food.
Both the Caladh Inn and the Caberfeidh Hotel can be found on the outskirts of the town. The Caladh Inn is a short walk from Stornoway’s centre along the road out to the airport (which makes it the nearest hotel to it). This is the largest of all the Stornoway Hotels but not that large by comparison to some of the hotels available on the mainland. With only 66 rooms you can gauge the size of the other hotels as well as the Caladh. It is a thoroughly modern hotel with all of the facilities and services of a first class hotel, including many business services such as photocopying, fax and wireless broadband, which makes it a perfect venue for the visiting businessman as well as tourists.
The Caberfeidh Hotel is found on the road heading out of Stornoway and towards Harris. The hotel has long held the title of being called the town’s finest hotel and they continually work at improving the building as well as their service (which is always of the highest quality). Like other Stornoway Hotels the Caberfeidh offers a free wireless broadband connection and other business services but this hotel has the finest conferencing facilities with a number of highly suitable function rooms. As well as being used for business meetings and conferences the Caberfeidh is also a highly popular venue for wedding celebrations and they have recently introduced a complete wedding service. For the tourist the Caberfeidh Hotel offers splendid accommodation in wonderful surroundings. Set back off the road in it’s own, well kept, gardens, the hotel is the most relaxing of all. Their gardens feature a number of fine mature trees and while large trees are generally a rarity on the islands the Caberfeidh is situated opposite the heavily wooded Lews Castle grounds where there are hundreds of trees in a wide range of species. If you decide to stay at this hotel you really must pop over the road for at least an hour or two to see how lovely these grounds really are. Of special note is the river Creed which flows through the grounds and looks incredible in all weathers.