The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links on the Isle of Islay occupies one of the most stunningly beautiful locations in the world. Rows of stark white buildings set in an emerald baize golf course threaded with sparkling streams between rolling golden hills, seven miles of sandy beaches and a turquoise sea.
The entrance to The Machrie is mile long private road winding past fluffy white sheep and the links golf course.
Just the warm tungsten lights from the windows greeted us on arrival us as the sun set, darkening the sky for a stormy end-of-the-world atmosphere. We pulled the McLaren 720S up outside the main entrance, braving the strong coastal winds, before stepping through the main door into a world of warmth and luxury.
The Assistant GM, Andrew, greeted us with open arms in the modern-designed Courtyard Lounge, all tartan armchairs, blue sofas and burgundy walls. Then graciously escorted us to our self-contained lodge adjacent to the main building overlooking the wide plains of the golf course and the Atlantic, waves folding gently down over the long pristine beach.
Andrew is passionate about the hotel and Islay and made sure that we experienced the best that both had to offer, treating us and indeed all his guests like royalty.
The lodges consist of low white buildings with two king-size bedrooms, a separate lounge and a pantry kitchen, all with bay doors and a terrace facing the sea. The rooms are comfortable with a modern luxury minimalist theme: light wood ceiling beams, anglepoise lamps, deep blue velvet armchairs, light blue carpets, Swedish style kitchen and contemporary screen prints on the napa walls. The bedrooms each have their own terrace and en suite bathroom. A Scottish Scandinavian vibe that is sure to please golfers and beach enthusiasts.
There are 47 rooms including the lodges and main building all with majestic views over Islay, the golf course and the beach.
That evening we dined in the luxurious 18 Restaurant & Bar, west-facing towards the beach with an outside terrace. A colourful explosion of multi-coloured dining chairs and striped blue, red and green carpets framed by white and taupe wood walls. Sleek ochre wood and steel pillars support a tall and impressive glass skylight that runs the entire length of the roof.
A dramatic fireplace with armchairs and a sofa dominates one end of the dining room: the perfect place to start the evening, whilst the long bar is ideal for chatting with friends or meeting people. The interior decorators have cleverly combined a clean modern style with luxurious warmth, comfort and congeniality.
Dinner was a delightful experience, the freshly baked bread with smoked salt butter was sumptuous, followed by Loch Gruinart oysters which were creamy and supremely fresh and then the fillet of salmon with tomato and courgette in a seafood broth with parmesan and truffle chunky fries. The salmon was perfect, crisp on the outside and pink on the inside, whilst the truffle chips were sinfully delicious. I refrained from ordering more only due to my ever-expanding waistline. Something I regret now as I write this.
My colleague David started with the nugget of Monkfish with mild curry, mango sauce and a roast red pepper coulis: fresh, spicy and delicious. Then he plumped for the aged Angus beef with pommes dauphinoise and Roscoff onion in a Bruichladdich sauce, an utter triumph, soft, rich and flavoursome. The Bruichladdich whisky with beef was a winning combination.
The Machrie source all their food locally, celebrating the free-range producers and artisans of Islay, which shows in the fresh rich flavours of all the dishes.
We then sat at the bar on the green velvet high stools for a little whisky flight, a few drams of Islay whiskies recommended by the lovely bar manager. We spent the rest of the evening chatting with the French and American guests before retiring contentedly to our lodge.
They offer plenty of activities to work off the great cuisine, such as salmon, trout and deep sea fishing, deer stalking and clay pigeon shooting as well as Spa treatments plus a gymnasium and sauna. My recommendation would be the electric e-bikes, an eco-friendly way to explore the magnificent surroundings.
There are plenty of places to relax with The Stag lounge on the first floor, overlooking the ocean or their games room, The Snug, ideal for board games or a quiet read whilst admiring the landscape.
The journey to The Machrie is a delightful part of the experience, we drove from Glasgow to Kennacraig and put the McLaren on the ferry to Port Ellen, an enjoyable two hours past remarkable seascapes, which is a mere 4 miles or eight minutes by car through scenery that will transport you back in time.
You can fly from Glasgow airport in 25 minutes and the local airport is ten minutes away, or take a helicopter as they have their own helipad.
Islay is utterly stunning and The Machrie is sublimely situated on the most beautiful beach on an island celebrated for its staggering beauty. The Machrie is a exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime experience
The Machrie Hotel & Links benefits from an exceptional location in the middle of phenomenal landscapes, the soft undulating sward of the golf course and numerous streams that slalom down to the splendid beach with colourful rolling hills in the background. There is no more beautiful spot in the world. It is mesmerising. All morning we walked around the hotel and could not believe our eyes. A vision of unspoiled natural beauty that surpasses anything I have seen before. Come for the "gowf", the fine dining, the sea, the distilleries or simply to marvel at the extraordinary countryside. Islay is already unutterably stunning and this is the best spot on the Island.
The Machrie comes with our highest recommendation and should be experienced at least once.
The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links