We checked out several places before settling on the Barriemore Guesthouse in Oban as the base for our stay – and our start and end point for our wonderful wildlife cruise with the Majestic Line. We’re glad we took the trouble to look around, as the Barriemore proved to be a gem of a place to stay.
A distinguished Victorian building on the northern end of the Esplanade, the Barriemore was only a 15-minute walk into the centre. It’s a 4-star guesthouse with free Wi-Fi and free parking (see below), and on the night we stayed the ‘No Vacancies’ notice was up – a good sign. And an indication that you’d better book ahead.
The owner, Jan, was very welcoming indeed, helping us with our bags and offering local restaurant recommendations (there are sample menus available), directions and so on. However, we’d already arranged to eat at one of Oban’s best fish restaurants, Eeusk, down at the harbour.
Our Bedroom at the Barriemore
All Photos (c) Donna Dailey
A Room with a View
Front rooms have lovely views across Oban Bay to distant islands. Our room, number 7, was luckily one of those, perhaps because we’d booked early, so when booking ask if you can have a room with a view, and the higher the better in this 3-storey building.
It was a large and very tastefully-decorated room, with a king-sized bed (all rooms have king-sized beds and are ensuite). Antique furniture showed that a lot of money and thought had been put into decorating the room. There was a large wardrobe, and two leather armchairs either side of the front window, where we sat and enjoyed the view for a time while sipping at the complimentary sherry that was in a decanter in the room.
More antique pieces stand on the landings, with interesting paintings and prints lining the walls, the kind that make you stop and look at them rather than just being there to fill the space. A sign of the attention given to guests’ needs is that there were no fewer than four different Wi-Fi networks - one for each floor, with yet another one for the guest lounge. Indeed, one of the several routers was plugged in right outside our door, giving us an excellent signal.
The Barriemore and McCaig’s Folly
The Barriemore was built in 1895 by Oban’s most famous resident, John S. McCaig, a banker who, after a trip to Rome decided for reasons best known to himself (he was a very private man) that he wanted his own Coliseum. It was begun in 1897 but not completed by the time of McCaig’s death in 1902. Part of the reason for the building was that he wanted to provide employment for local workers, but he only hired them to work on it when no other work was available for them. The building was known as McCaig’s Folly and is made of the same granite he used for the Barriemore.
One feature that appealed to us was the free parking that the Barriemore offered. Parking your car can be tricky in a tiny but busy place like Oban, but the Barriemore has a guaranteed parking place for every room for the duration of your stay. We needed to leave our car in Oban for six days, though, while we went off on our wildlife cruise. Not a problem! The helpful owners at the Barriemore found a cheap spot for us behind another guesthouse just along the road.
Breakfast and Conservatory
A hearty Scottish breakfast was served in the large breakfast room. There was a huge Continental-style buffet with breads, cereals, yoghourts, cheeses, cold meats, fresh fruit, juices and croissants, while we opted for the yummy oatmeal porridge with fresh cream, and naturally the full Scottish breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, potato scone, mushroom and black pudding.
Later in the day we needed to wait for a taxi to take us and our luggage to our cruise boat and we were able to enjoy a quiet break in the beautiful conservatory at the side of the house, reading magazines, checking emails, and enjoying cups of tea that the owner kindly made for us. It’s that type of a place, where the warm welcome goes beyond the front door and stays with you till you leave.
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