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Let’s be fair, most of us know about Arran because of the sweaters, so are probably expecting green hills dotted with sheep. But, while the sweaters are really lovely, they’re not even close to the best things about the Isle of Arran. Frequently referred to as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran has some seriously impressive geography and geology. Half is dramatically mountainous and sparsely populated and half is green and flat. And the coastline is borderline spectacular. It’s also got some seriously good food, and its own brewery, and when it comes to the best places to stay on Arran our Gurus recommendations benefit from both the former charms and the latter.
You could come to Arran and stay in some scenic spot and just relax, but it’s a great place for explorers, travelling on foot, on two wheels or four. Hikers love the challenges of the mountainous north and cyclists love the coastal road.
What Not to Miss
- Brodick Castle is the obvious headliner, it’s very photogenic, as well as being historic. It was built in the 13th century, but was then converted into a more comfortable stately home and was used by the Dukes of Hamilton into the 50s. Expect deer heads and horse ’n’ hounds paintings.
- Lochranza Castle is partially ruined but the setting is dramatic and atmospheric.
- Goat Fell is the highest mountain on the island and is a half a day hike offering summiteers views of the Ayshire and Galloway coasts and the islands of Bute and Jura.
- The Arran Brewery is at the base of Goat Fell, and they’ll do you a free beer tasting and they have a very nice restaurant.
- Nearby Holy Island is worth a visit - the boat leaves from Lamlash. It’s always been considered spiritually important and has been home to monks and saints. Today it a community of Buddhist monks live there, after a vision of the Virgin Mary persuaded the previous owners to sell it to them. As well as the Tibetan monks Holy Island is also home to rare endemic animals and wild sheep and ponies.
- Whiting Bay is a pretty village with a beautiful white sandy beach. Delightfully quaint, there’s a putting and bowling green and some boutiques and galleries.
- Prinmill is another nice village, probably best known for being close to one of the island’s best beaches.
- Kildonan has a lighthouse and some lovely rock formations.
- Machrie is close to Machrie Moor where you can see some of the island’s best known standing stones and stone circles, though you’ll see them all over the place.
- Arran is also known for its seals and birds of prey, so don’t forget to keep your eyes open for them as well.
The Best Places to Stay on Arran
- The Auchrannie House Hotel has been converted from a beautifully sprawling estate close to Brodick. There are 84 contemporary rooms but ancient views. There are plenty of activities laid on onsite, plus a spa and stunning scenery. When you come home there are fires lit and a modern restaurant.
- The Glenisle Hotel is a boutique-style hotel with 13 charming bedrooms, a beautiful walled garden, a fantastic bistro and an incredible setting.
For an self-Catering apartment or cottage
If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private cottage we recommend you visit our online partner, booking.com.
- Glasgow Airport is the closest airport, and from there you need to travel to Ardrossan - there’s a bus service - which is where the ferry to Arran leaves from. It docks in Brodick.
- If you want to hire a car we recommend you visit our online partner, Holiday Autos.
- There’s a big Folk Festival in June, so come, or avoid, depending on your taste in music. But summers are the most popular time to visit, offering the easiest crossings and the best weather. Obviously the best deals for accommodation are in the cooler months, but it does get pretty cool up here.
Still not sure which is the best place to stay on Arran for you?
Best Hotels in Arran
Auchrannie House Hotel 84 rooms from $129Isle of Arran
Set on the beautiful island of Arran over a sprawling estate. Contemporary rooms make for a comfortable stay with plenty of fire lit areas for lounging after an action filled day. A spa, countless activities for adults and children alike and modern cuisine make this the ideal family get away.Kayaking - With it's sheltered coastal waters, stunning scenery and abundant wildlife Arran is a kayaker's paradiseSecluded setting - For escaping.SpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Cruickshanks Boutique B&B 3 rooms from $156Isle of Arran
A boutique B&B on the stunning island of Arran. Situated on the coast and set in mature gardens this is true rural escapism. Lovingly converted throughout, each room is decorated in soft hues and has a contemporary, yet cosy feel. Expect indulgent breakfasts, roaring fires and an extensive library.Hideaway - A secluded island property, perfect for getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life.Great walks - The picturesque rugged landscape makes for excellent walking country.Sailing - Hire a boat and explore the island from the sea.Restrictions on children - Adult only
Glenisle Hotel 13 rooms from $168Isle of Arran
The charming Glenisle Hotel enjoys a splendid location in Lamlash, the Isle of Arran. Offers chic and boutique rooms with great sea views! Relax in the walled garden with a drink and truly unwind. The bistro's cuisine (specialising in seafood) is absolutely superb! A fantastically scenic retreat.Fishing - If you fancy a bit of peace and quiet then head off for a spot of fishingGreat walks - Hike all over the island to truly revel in its natural beautyViews - Great views from hotelSeaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Recommended by - Sawdays