Places to Visit on Mull

Oran Creative Crafts : Made by local people… as rare as hen’s teeth
St. Columba Steadings, Isle of Iona, PA76 6SW

Whilst the shop at Iona Abbey certainly offers lots of books and trinkets to buy as presents for family or mementos of the visit, little of it holds as intimate a link to the island as the handcrafted items on display in the beautifully restored Oran Creative Crafts shop. You’re not likely to find a “Made in China” sticker on any of these items. Even if there’s nothing there which immediately appeals, it’s still worth popping into the restored croft to just imagine what it must have been like in times past, when this building had people and in some cases, their animals, living under the roof. Oran Creative Crafts is actually a co-operative of nine local craft workers and is open during the main summer season, from Easter until the end of October.
Google Map | Website

Western Isles : Loads of history and the best views of the bay
Western Rd, Strongarbh, Tobermory, Isle Of Mull, PA75

The Western Isles Hotel has a chequered history, having been through a number of hands over the years. This is perhaps surprising as the building is absolutely stunning with commanding views high above the rest of Tobermory, looking down over the harbour. We booked up most of the hotel back in 2003 for our wedding, shortly after it had gone through yet another change of ownership. Our experience at that time was excellent and it certainly offered exceptional value. More recently, there’s rarely a trip up to Tobermory which doesn’t involve a stopover at the Western Isles for a spot of lunch. This is where the place shines… literally. That’s because the bar dining area sits within a huge conservatory which lets the sun bathe you in light. You can’t always be guaranteed a sunny day in Tobermory, but if it’s out, there’s nothing more enjoyable than having a relaxing lunch and coffee in the Western whilst looking down on the blue waters glistening with reflected sunlight and the many sailing boats bobbing about like miniature toys in your very own bathtub down below.
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Mishnish Hotel : The best pub in Tobermory (probably)
Main St, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, PA75 6NU

The Mishnish (pub) has been going for years and offers plenty of entertainment for all tastes. It’s known as a fairly regular music venue, but also offers the more prosaic in the form of Sky Sports for those of you who just can’t cope with missing that big game. The food service is typical and of a slightly better standard than your average pub grub. But where the Mishnish stands apart is in its interior, offering lots of little nooks where groups can sit and enjoy good company with a pint. Having been to all the pubs in Tobermory this is, at time of writing, the best of the lot. Unfortunately, can’t offer a view on the hotel accommodation as never tried it.
Google Map | Website

The Reef Restaurant: An unpretentious place with top notch food
The Village, Bunessan, PA67 6DG

Don’t blink or you’ll miss The Reef. Nestled between the buildings making up the seafront main street of Bunessan, The Reef is easy to miss as you zip through the village. But it’s worth the effort to find because the food is really of a quality that is better than you might reasonably expect so far off the beaten track. Specialising in seafood dishes, but offering a wide range of options, including vegetarian, this family run restaurant is open from April through to September and, if you’re visiting the area in the summer months, it’s a good idea to book ahead to ensure you get a table. They also have a good selection of Scottish bottled ales to help lubricate the digestion. Kid friendly too.The number is 01681 700291.
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Tobermory Chocolate : A chocaholic’s dream made real
57 Main St, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, PA75 6NT

Firstly, do you like chocolate? If yes, then there’s little doubt that you’ll love Tobermory’s Chocolate shop. It’s a place of tempting indulgences, offering a wide array of locally made delectations to tempt your taste buds. Of course, just how much you care to feed your addiction is entirely up to you. Temper temptation with a hot mug of chocolate or go crazy at the chocolate counter. Chocolate offerings aside, the shop has a great view across Tobermory harbour and very good restrooms. After a day exploring the town, it’s a good way to rest your legs, whilst watching the world pass you by.
Google Map | Website

Argyll Hotel : Never stayed but enjoyed food many times
Isle of Iona, PA76 6SJ

For us, a visit to Iona isn’t complete without relaxing in the Argyll Hotel’s sun lounge to the front of the building, looking out over the stunningly white sand of Iona’s beaches, back across to the pink hued rocks surrounding Fionnphort. It’s the most relaxing way to digest the food produced and in some instances, grown, in the back garden. The Argyll specialises in bread baked on the premises and salad based dishes. It’s not inexpensive, though little is out here. But it is undeniably good quality and attentive service. And if the sun room’s a little hot in summer you can always hop across the road into the hotel’s front garden, immediately adjacent to the sea, whilst the staff bring you biscuits and coffee.
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Glengorm Coffee Shop : Undersells itself
Glengorm Castle

If ever there was a name which doesn’t do a place justice it’s Glengorm Coffee Shop. It suggests a place you stop off for drinks but, in fact it’s so much more. The food is both generous in helping and very tasty too. They excel at consistently cooking up hearty big bowls of soup and crusty bread, plus a wide array of slightly more adventurous cafe food than you might find in your average high street. Of course, this is neither average nor near any high streets. But it is well worth the trip out to the ‘coffee shop’ for a good meal. Very kid friendly too. Of course, once out here there’s more to do, with both a gallery and the Glengorm grounds to enjoy. If there’s one place I’d recommend visiting for a bit of lunch on the island, this is it.
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Isle Of Mull Hotel : The best swimming pool on Mull…
Craignure, PA65 6BB

In fact the ONLY public swimming pool on Mull. Opened after many years of island fund raising, The Isle of Mull Hotel pitched in with support that made the pool a reality, provided that it could use the facility for hotel guests. On the upside this means that the Pool is of a very high standard of presentation; far more impressive than your average public baths. On the minor downside, the pool isn’t very long at 17 metres. Still, mustn’t complain as it’s better than no metres. Most notable feature is the entirely glass wall facing out down the sound of Mull to Craignure harbour. Bottom line, the kids will love it whether it’s rain or shine outside.
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The Keel Row: One of the cosiest pubs this side of Mull
Fionnphort, Isle of Mull, PA66 6BL

The Keel Row is perhaps overlooked by people on their way to visit Iona. But it’s worthy of a stop-off. With a lovely open real fire glowing brightly in the hearth, it’s a very welcoming sight when the weather is less than ideal outside. Apart from the beer and spirits, there’s also a separate restaurant which is open seasonally. Out of season you can always get a pretty decent bit of pub grub in the bar which is as least as good as anything you’d find in more populous places. Yes, your options in this neck of the woods are somewhat limited, but The Keel Row is one option which is justified.
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Argyll Arms Hotel : Been going to this place since I was wee
Main road, Bunessan, Isle of Mull, PA67 6DP

The Argyll Arms Hotel is blessed with having big picture windows overlooking the natural harbour of Bunessan bay. The Hotel itself is a real mixed bag, having gone through various highs and lows during different periods of ownership. Right now it’s on an upward trend with the new owners investing in improving the fabric of the building and the quality of the food service. Very good with kids too and I should know if they put up with mine! Can’t comment on the hotel part as I’ve never stayed beyond closing time.
Google Map | Website

Mediterranea Restaurant : A real surprise
Aros, Salen Isle of Mull, PA72 6JF

The Mediterranea restaurant is one of those surprise places that you least expect to find on your travels. Though not cheap, the food is generally of a standard that you’ll find hard to distinguish from the best restaurants in big cities. Situated in the middle of Salen, between Craignure and Tobermory, it’s an excellent stop-off for dinner before heading back to the south of the island.
Google Map


© All reviews copyright Ralph Averbuch, 2009. No review may be reproduced without prior permission.

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