A Scottish staycation: It’s heaven in the West Highlands

The port of Oban on the west coast of Scotland, UK. (iStock)
The port of Oban on the west coast of Scotland, UK. (iStock)

DOES anyone else find travelling by plane a bit of a drag these days? I love a foreign holiday once I get there – but the whole shoes-off-belt-off traipse through security with hundreds of other passengers at the same time is never exactly a fun way to start a holiday, is it?

That’s part of the reason we chose Scotland for our last break. That and the fact there’s so much of our own country that we haven’t explored yet.

So it was a trip to pretty Taynuilt, not far from Oban, for us.

We got lucky. This is a gorgeous part of the world at any time of year. In early spring, when the sun decides to shine, it’s glorious. And it convinced us that we’d made the right decision to staycation.

We stayed at The Taynuilt Etive Restaurant with Rooms. It’s run by up-and-coming chef John McNulty and his right-hand man David Lapsley.

However, special mention has to go to lovely Lauren, who gave us a warm welcome on arrival – and who also knows a thing or two about recommending a decent gin or three!

The hotel was built centuries ago, so don’t expect sleek and modern. But it’s homely, comfortable and spotless.


We were delighted to discover that our room had a small, private terrace. Perfect for sitting outside with a book, a drink and without a phone – now that’s really getting away from it all.

If you love good, unusual food, the Etive restaurant is a must. Using as many ingredients as possible from the local area, the restaurant has gained two AA rosettes and has a growing reputation.

And rightly so. It’s a lovely place to hang out, with stone walls and wood panelling. Meals are presented beautifully, sometimes even theatrically. Thankfully, the taste lives up to the look.

We felt properly spoiled as we enjoyed homemade bread and butter – it doesn’t sound much but this is bread you won’t be able to get enough of – plus scallops and rack of lamb which were melt-in-the-mouth good.

Oh, and if you get a chance to try the rhubarb fool and shortbread, make sure you don’t miss out. It’s so good I had it two nights in a row.

It’s worth making the most of breakfast, too. Whether you go for healthy porridge and fruit, or indulgent full Scottish or eggs Benedict, you’ll leave here feeling set up for your day ahead.

Taynuilt itself isn’t big. It’s about 12 miles from Oban so if you fancy some more hustle and bustle, it’s within easy travelling distance.

However, if you really want to relax and chill out, spend some time in Taynuilt itself, or head in the other direction towards Dalmally for some great walks and welcoming pubs and cafes.

We took a walk down to Loch Etive. Surrounded by mountains and with barely another soul in sight, it’s a gorgeous place to while away a chunk of the day. It makes it all the stranger that the Gaelic translation of Etive is supposedly “little ugly one” – never has a loch been so badly named!

The Falls of Lora rapids at the Connel narrows of the sea Loch Etive, under the mountains of the West Highlands of Scotland (iStock)
The Falls of Lora rapids at the Connel narrows of the sea Loch Etive, under the mountains of the West Highlands of Scotland (iStock)

We marvelled at how much time you could spend doing… well, nothing really. We just milled about by the water’s edge, had a stone-skimming competition (it never gets old), walked a bit and forgot all about our everyday worries.

You know – pretty much exactly as you’re supposed to do on holiday.

Soon, we felt recharged and decided a wee trip to Oban was just the ticket.

You might have realised by now that food was a big part of this break. Come on, time away is time to eat – and definitely not to think about dieting.

We loved the Oban Seafood Hut. Rightly enjoying almost-legendary status, if you love seafood, a trip here is a must if you’re on the west coast.

Basically a shack on the quayside, you could argue it’s rough and ready – but the seafood is out of this world.

Whether you go for a simple crab sandwich or a seafood platter, which is perfect for sharing, prices are reasonable and quality is fabulous.

Eating your meal while watching the comings and goings at the harbour is as good as it gets. A bit like Taynuilt, in fact.