A little bird told us that even his shattered migrated cousins are whistling a happier tune since operator Campbell Gray Hotels, on behalf of owners Sue Nye and Gavyn Davies, opened the slick and colourful Machrie Hotel and Golf Links on the Isle of Islay last month. The husband and wife team acquired the hotel eight years ago and it’s undergone a total transformation in the last few years, growing it from 16 to 47 rooms.
Islay’s known as ‘Queen of the Hebrides’, and with a finish so stylishly executed, and to such soaring standards, The Machrie looks like a place the stylish Swedish royal family would stay, having something of the Scandinavian about it. And this, in fact, was exactly the brief to the designers. Piers Phillips of Peter Young Design, who worked on the project, told Hotel Scotland, “Sue Nye’s fantastic brief revolved around a little story about a Scandinavian princess meeting her future Scottish Laird husband, from which the term ‘McScandy’ was coined, and which guided us through the entire design process. We wanted it to feel less like a hotel and more like a relaxed, residential home-from-home space. The high five-and-a-half metre high ceiling in The Stag Room also lent itself so well to the design brief, harking back to the traditional Scottish but with simplified detail. The overall design was also in sympathy with the beautiful surroundings of course, predominantly muted tones and vibrant pops of colour.
“We have worked with Campbell Gray Hotels a number of times, like The Phoenicia in Malta, and it’s been great having this on-going relationship with the group.”
Peter Young Design used bespoke Reynaers aluminium state of the art windows and Reynaers curtain walling, creating the view of the surrounding scenery. The windows, installed by SEH Commercial, were selected for their acoustic, thermal and structural performance, ideal for the climatic challenges of island life.
Hudson Architects was the principal architect. Commenting on the project, John Nortcliffe, Head of Commercial, added, “We used technology by designing it all in 3D so that everything was in one place and coordinated. This is essential when a build is in a remote location where everybody involved isn’t able to pop down the road to the site. The local authorities were all really enthusiastic about the project, which doubled the hotel in size, as were the locals”
He continued, “ This is a landmark building and most people on Islay have the hotel woven into the fabric of their lives in some way, like they were married there, so working on the project was a huge responsibility. It was a fantastic project to work on, plus the island is so beautiful.”
An 18th century converted farmhouse sitting on seven miles of beach that can be accessed via a private footpath, The Machrie’s rooms and suites have been designed with an emphasis on clean lines, muted colours and the odd splash of colour, like a red armchair in an otherwise light grey room (bed sheets, carpets, curtains, walls) as well as quirky touches like antler light fittings. Many of the rooms enjoy views over the fairway towards the ocean.
The Courtyard Lounge has burnt orange painted walls, grey slate flooring, with white rugs emblazoned with an orange zigzag pattern. There’s a mixture of tartan and velour sofas and chairs, paintings on the walls, as well as wall-mounted glass display cabinets containing trophies, vases and stone artefacts. The room opens out to the central Courtyard and an open fire in the winter months. This space caters for larger events for up to 110 guests, under a custom-built marque.
The restaurant and bar, 18, located on the first floor of the hotel, has an outdoor terrace, offering panoramic views of the ocean and golf course and a private dining room. It includes a 30-seat cinema, function room for board meetings and private dinners, plus health and wellness facilities. Its white ceiling is corrugated, with wooden decorative/support beams that resemble logs zigzagging into its apex. The long narrow space has a wall of windows along one side, opposite which is a bar, and in the middle is a collection of circular wooden tables and orangey-red, blue and yellow chairs. There’s also a white rug with abstract lines of colour, in orange and olive and blue. At the bar is a line of yellow-gold velour swivelling bar stools, and the back bar is painted in a light green with a really interesting back bar thanks to an illuminated piece of art that looks like a map made of trees.
The Stag Room’s olive green wood panelled walls give it a calming feel, with an angular replica stag’s head above the grey slate art deco fireplace. Pink curtains hang in the huge floor-to-ceiling windows. This room also houses The Machrie’s trademark furniture in various colours, accompanied by interesting wall hangings.
And we must also give the final mention to the famous Machrie Links course. It was originally designed in 1891 by Willie Campbell, the course has now been fully modernised by D J Russell, the former European Ryder Cup Vice Captain and PGA tour player.