It’s fair to say the west coast seaside town of Oban isn’t renowned for having a huge selection of five-star hotels – in fact, it struggles to get above a reasonable three-star level.
However, don’t let that put you off visiting. There are some establishments that reach that level of luxury and comfort you crave, and the Glenburnie House is one of those.
Located on the Esplanade this Victorian, granite built home already rates a five-star with TripAdvisor from 368 reviews. That, by anyone’s standard, is pretty good going. The guest house has private parking available, and if that’s full, there is on-street parking immediately outside the entrance, although it is metered at certain times.
The location of this establishment is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, simply stunning. It offers an unrivalled seafront location with spectacular views across Oban Bay and the island of Kerrera, where you can sit and idly watch the ferries toing and froing from the outer islands.
Glenburnie has been in the Strachan family since 1968, originally a family home but is now run by Graeme Strachan as an upmarket guest house. The very fact that they are still going strong when so many others have failed is a testament to the fact that they’ve gotten the formula right for providing visitors with exactly what they need – and want.
Check-in is available from 3pm and departure by 10.30am.
There are 12 en-suite rooms all of which have been individually decorated using beautiful fabrics and colour schemes, yet still, manage to retain many of the house’s original Victorian features. It offers spacious and comfortable accommodation, some with sea views, complimentary Wi-Fi, flat screen televisions, together with tea and coffee making facilities. A lovely touch was the ‘honesty’ box containing a selection of sweets, crisps, (chips for my US readers), and canned soft drinks.
The location on Soroba Road is on the outskirts of the town, but within an easy and gentle level stroll into the town centre. Oban is known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, not without good reason as we watched numerous boats in all sizes enter and leave the port.
On arrival, we managed to get the car parked, but, in the height of summer during peak season, you might struggle as the bays are very narrow. Please be aware that there are steps leading into the entrance vestibule so check before booking for disabled access arrangements. Similarly, there is no lift to the upper floors, although Glenburnie does have two ground floor rooms.
The welcome received from our owner Graeme was warm and friendly. He’s a chatty individual, and a mine of local information making for a perfect host. We had booked two rooms and were promptly shown to rooms six and nine. He even made a taxi reservation for us for later in the evening.
Room six was a light and spacious twin bedded room located on the first floor with views over the woodland area to the rear of Glenburnie. It has to be said, compared with the rooms which overlook the front of the house, and therefore have sea views, this room is lacking. It overlooks what appears to be an extension to the building, and, if I’m being honest, is not somewhere you’ll want to sit and admire as a special holiday view. The décor was inoffensive using a colour palette of duck egg and cream. The room also features en-suite facilities. However, it must be borne in mind, that these rear-facing rooms are less expensive than those offering sea views, such as was offered in room nine.
Our room was a huge space, easily sufficient for several days stay. The guest house describes it as: “A large king bedded room, which can be made into a twin, offers triple-aspect bay windows with unrivalled views across Oban Bay and Kerrera Island. Take a seat in one of the two inviting armchairs and watch the boats go by. Room Nine is located on the second floor of the house, and offers a double shower.”
The room had ample clothing storage space in matching distressed white furniture and a built-in wardrobe for hanging space. Our room contained a desk to work at should you be on a business trip with plenty of lighting options available. There was a helpful folder of local information, as well as the owners’ opinions on a selection of eating choices. The guest house does not provide evening meals at this time.
And the piece de resistance – the mattress. Now I’ll readily admit to being a ‘larger than life’ character, therefore a thin mattress doesn’t do it for me. I slept so well in this bed, that I stripped back the sheets to discover it was a Hypnos mattress. This is the same company who supply HM The Queen and have received her Royal Warrant.
But, it really was those triple aspect views which sealed the deal. Not only permitting natural light to stream in, making for a light and airy feel to the room, but I’d happily have sat there for hours, gin and tonic in hand, watching the world go by, sedately on Oban Bay. Please note the establishment is not licensed, but guests are free to take their own drink into the room.
The en-suite was, like the room, a good size containing period replica sanitary ware, a double shower featuring a rainfall head, which, at the time of our visit was about to be replaced with a feature, marble-tiled unit. Lighting was good, and there was plenty of bathroom storage for even the most high-maintenance of women (and some guys I know). Free locally sourced toiletries were provided and an ample supply of good quality, fluffy, white cotton towels.
At the time of my visit – October 2018, prices ranged from £55-£75 per person per night. These rates include a full Scottish breakfast, which included cereals, fruits, croissants, home-made jams, as well as the obligatory full Scottish cooked breakfast. Just the thing to set you up for the day.
The Glenburnie received a TripAdvisor ‘Certificate of excellence’ in 2017, and I’d say it was a well-deserved accolade. This is a very friendly guest house, and, unlike many hotels who simply cannot provide this level of personalised service, it’s small enough, with only 12 rooms, to be able to offer something different – and in this case, different is very good!
The communal sitting room contains plenty of comfortable seating by an open fire, perfect for listening to any guest who might feel like giving their fellow visitors an impromptu session on the piano.
The dining room, again with sea views, showcases the owner’s quirky design features with tables made from reclaimed building materials, but, as odd as that might sound – it works.
Useful information links
From Oban you can catch a ferry service to Mull, Lismore, Islay, Coll, Tiree and many more via Caledonian MacBrayne ferries – see website for island info via this link.
Or obtain ferry service timetables from Caledonian MacBrayne on their website here.
For more details on Glenburnie House, visit their website here
And, if you’re in Oban, why not visit one of Scotland’s best seafood restaurants Ee-Usk. My review for it can be found here.