Glass stays at Lews Castle in the Scottish Hebrides

PERCHED ON the rugged coastline of the tiny town of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the remote Scottish Hebrides, Lews Castle is the ultimate romantic getaway. A piece of fanciful Victorian architecture built to look like a Mediaeval castle, the building had fallen into disrepair but has been beautifully restored thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant. The building is now home to several luxury self-catering holiday apartments on the upstairs floor while the great banqueting hall on the ground floor now plays host to weddings and events.

A free, stunningly curated museum has also been created to tell the story of the people of the Isle of Lewis and its sister, the Isle of Harris. Here it is possible to listen to the old dialects of the region and understand the island’s ancient heritage – such as one of the world’s oldest chess sets being discovered here. It also tells the moving story of a sadly vanishing culture as young people leave the islands for city life.

Upstairs the spacious apartments are beautifully furnished and boast breathtaking views of the harbour and castle grounds. All are equipped with modern luxuries such as Nespresso machines and all bedrooms feature en suite bathrooms.

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There are many reasons to visit these remote islands. The famous Harris tweed made on the Isle of Harris to exacting traditional methods for hundreds of years is used today by some of the world’s biggest fashion brands, Vivienne Westwood, Hugo Boss and even limited edition Nike trainers.

Tiny local shops selling handmade Harris tweed clothing and accessories are the perfect place to pick up one’s piece of heritage tweed. Harris also boasts the UK’s most beautiful beach and Scotland’s most Northerly gin distillery – soon to also produce its first whiskey. Both of these industries are playing an active part in helping to rebuild a dwindling community.

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Aside from the industries of the islands, there is a beautiful and nostalgic charm to the land. Ancient Neolithic stone circles rival the majesty of Stonehenge, dramatic cliffs and hills provide magnificent views and walking routes, and tiny cafes serving homemade traditional cakes and tea warm the heart as well as the body. Stornoway itself boasts a disproportionate number of outstanding restaurants, with a standard of cuisine that would be at home in the heart of Mayfair.

For anyone visiting Scotland, these tiny islands pack an enormous punch and Lews Castle is the perfect vantage point from which to explore them.

by Nicola Kavanagh

1 night in a 1 bed apartment starts from £219.