Country houses for sale

An island retreat with 27 bedrooms and a swirling staircase on the Queen of the Hebrides

Islay House on the Isle of Islay is a hotel with enormous potential to become an awe-inspiring home.

Some time ago, or maybe even indeed right about now, a famous homeware brand came up with a good slogan. ‘Make a house a home,’ they said, in reference to buying building supplies and cushions. I always liked it as a piece of advertising — arguably the best part of buying a house is making it one’s home, by building flat-pack furniture and arguing.

But what about making a hotel a home? I have yet to see any brand deploy such catchy messaging yet, which considering the number of hotels I see for sale on a weekly basis, is a little surprising. Such a brand might be of interest (should it exist) to the new owners of Islay House, which is on the market with Knight Frank for offers in excess of £3 million. You will need a lot of flat-pack furniture to fill it.

The entrance hall, which leads on to the sublime swirling staircase.

Should you decide to transform Islay House into a home, then one thing you will certainly not need to worry about is space. Measuring at some 32,000sq ft of living space, with up to 27 bedrooms, the property is big. It is also supplemented, as it should be, by some 28 acres of gardens and grounds, which themselves have further amenities in the shape of a boathouse, and gamekeeper’s cottage. 

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The aforementioned sublime swirling staircase.

The good news is that everything is pretty much brand new. The home, listed Category A, was recently refurbished by the current owners over a period of three years. The wires are new. The plumbing is also new. There is a new drainage system, new central-heating system, new boiler, fire safety sprinkler system (I’ve always wanted one) and some re-roofing. All set over three floors.

The bar. One to keep whether you choose to run the property as a hotel or family home.

Islay House’s charm is its setting. On the Isle of Islay (no prizes for guessing that one), the property sits in a serene south-west facing position, overlooking it’s gardens and out to the coast and the Rhinns Mountains beyond. Back in 1677, Hugh Campbell, Laird of Cawdor, built Islay House at the head of Loch Indaal, because it was ‘the best spot in the island’; we see no reason to disagree.

One of the many bluebell walks in the 28 acres of gardens and grounds.

Despite being in the Hebrides, the property is also well served by plenty of local amenities. Bridgend is half a mile away, and offers a shop, hotel and petrol station, while Bowmore, the island’s main village, is three miles away, and offers everything else. The whisky is also pretty good I’ve heard, which is lucky as there are nine of Scotland’s best distilleries nearby.

Islay House is for sale with Knight Frank for offers in excess of £3 million. For more information and images, click here