We were not sure what to expect when we reopened in May and we were pleasantly surprised to find such a high number of bookings even without our overseas visitors. A big thank you to all of our staycation guests, our day visitors and of course our group guests who finally made it back to us after missing out in 2020. We were delighted to welcome so many families who may have usually gone overseas for their summer holidays. Our average stay length was much longer this year and our All-Inclusive Activity Holidays were more popular than ever!
UK reality fans got another dose of Raasay!
In May the 6th season of the Channel 4 show “SAS: Who dares Wins” aired and the Isle of Raasay was once again streaming into front rooms all over the UK. It’s amazing how many people have discovered Raasay through the show and have come to explore the activity locations here on the island this summer. Fans of the show have been surprised to find that Raasay has a much milder climate in the summer months than in the winter when the show was filmed with markedly less mud! Here is our post about our SAS Experience.
Spreading out to stop the spread
Like all hospitality businesses in the UK, we had some real challenges this year due to the pandemic. To meet government requirements for physical distancing and to keep our customers safe we had to get creative with our space. We decided to transform our ‘West Wing Hall’ into a pool and beer hall which ended up being the perfect place to watch the world cup on a projector! We are always keen to embrace technology so we also trialled app ordering in this area with some success. With some tweaking, we may expand on that in the coming years
We were honoured to continue our involvement with this thought-provoking and important project in 2021. We were particularly excited to see CLIMAVORE on the list of finalists for this year’s Turner prize. Operating a CLIMAVORE menu has helped us to think more deeply about sustainability and where our produce comes from. If you would like to read more about CLIMAVORE check out our post by clicking here.
2021 was a very busy season, albeit shorter than usual as we only reopened in May. Like many hospitality businesses we have really struggled with recruitment this year. Brexit and uncertainly in the UK hospitality industry brought on by the pandemic have created a sort of perfect storm which has hit hotels, bars and restaurants hard. For us this meant that many of our team accepted more responsibility or worked in departments and positions which were outside of their comfort zone. We were especially impressed and proud of the way the school aged part-time Raasay staff and those home on holiday from university stepped up and took excellent care of our customers. You only have to read our reviews to see how our team and especially our young people really shone brightly in 2021.
We will reopen on Friday the 1st of April 2022. You may remember that due to staff shortages we had to close on some Sundays and Mondays this year. We plan to do this again in 2022 and we advise our guests to check our opening dates post before hitting the “Book Now” button. If you search for dates that fall over a day when we are closed you may see a message that we have no rooms available when actually it’s just the Sunday or Monday that you cannot book. You can still check out on closed days, we close after check outs on closed days. Jump to a calendar with all our 2022 opening and closing by clicking here.
We have started our recruitment for 2022 and whilst we have plenty of our team returning, we also have a have a number of positions available in waiting, housekeeping, kitchen and reception. Positions are live in and we are happy to receive joint applications for couples and friends who would like to be housed together. Would you or someone you know be great asset to our team? Check out this post or Send a CV with availability to email@example.com and we will match your CV to any opening that we have.
Closed but still here if you need us
We may be closed just now but we assure you we are not hibernating. We are busy painting, updating some of the rooms and getting geared up for next year. We have just installed a brand new TV system which is much more user friendly and reliable and we are making other improvements around the hotel and grounds too. During this closed time we are of course still picking up emails and voicemails and we will be delighted to help with your enquiry. If you have any queries or would like some booking advice or help please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that you all have a fantastic and safe Christmas, and we wish you, and yours all the best for 2022! Warmest wishes from the Raasay House Management Team.
Becoming CLIMAVORE explores the gap between the appearance and the reality of salmon—their inability to escape intensive farms. For this UK-wide project, 21 museums have removed farmed salmon from the menus of their cafés and restaurants, and introduced CLIMAVORE dishes made with ingredients that improve soil and water quality, and cultivate marine habitats. This move continues our multi-year collaboration with restaurants in Skye and Raasay since 2017.
Raasay House Hotel & CLIMAVORE
In 2017 we were approached by Atlas Arts on Skye about an exciting project which focused on the negative impact of salmon farming on Scottish shores and which looks at sustainable ways to reconnect with tidal produce.
CLIMAVORE asks “how do we eat as humans change climates?”
As a business with a strong relationship to our natural environment, especially the marine life we are extremely concerned with the impact of fish farming in the area and about how our changing climates will affect local marine life. We had previously had a very positive experience working with Atlas Arts on the Patterns of Flora project which you can see here in Raasay House so we were delighted to get involved in this. The main element was a tidal oyster table in Portree Bay where guests could dine on a special menu featuring tidal produce right there in the environment where it came from. For our part, we produced a CLIMAVORE menu and removed all farmed salmon from our regular menu. We used local mackerel and hake where we once we used salmon. It’s four years on now and we have not put salmon back on the menu.
In 2018 following the success of CLIMAVORE Cooking Sections, we went a little further into the project where we not only produced a special menu but we had the pleasure of taking on an apprentice from Portree High School to prepare the dishes. 20 students from Portree were given the opportunity to complete a course using tidal produce and then to go on to complete a placement in one of the participating restaurants like Raasay House Hotel.
Fast forward to 2021 and CLIMAVORE has grown and spread across the UK with many museums and restaurants taking the CLIMAVORE message on board as well as changing the produce they use on their menus. The project has now gained even more momentum and recognition and it has been shortlisted for the very prodigious 2021 Turner Prize. We are launching our very own CLIMAVORE menu this evening which will run along side or regular menu. Please click here for a preview.
We wish CLIMAVORE all the best for the Turner Prize and we are very thankful to have been given a chance to be involved and to open our eyes even further to the opportunities and challenges of the changing shores around us.
From today, you can taste CLIMAVORE dishes at: Aberdeen Art Gallery Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead BFI Southbank, London Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry Holburne Museum, Bath London Transport Museum Manchester Art Gallery Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Royal Museums Greenwich Science Museum, London Science and Industry Museum, Manchester Serpentine, London Tate Britain, London Tate Liverpool Tate Modern, London Tate St Ives The Whitworth, The University of Manchester Turner Contemporary, Margate Victoria & Albert Museum, London Wellcome Collection, London
And in Skye and Raasay: Edinbane Lodge Eòlach Isle of Skye Baking Company Loch Bay Raasay House Hotel Rosedale Hotel Scorrybreac The Ferry Inn Three Chimneys
Visitors can taste a CLIMAVORE meal and collect one of the postcards from a twelve-part mosaic at participating restaurants filled with CLIMAVORE stories and recipes.
Third-Party Booking Sites – they are not always cheaper
Like many hotels and other accommodation providers, we sell rooms through third-party sites to reach a greater audience. This is a double-edged sword because although we do get the benefits of reaching a wider audience we also have to pay very high commission rates. Not only that but the level of support received from these platforms can be shockingly inadequate for both ourselves and our customers despite the hefty sum they claim in commission. To counteract this extra cost to our small family run business we have to charge more through third party booking sites than we do direct.
Our Price Promise
When you book directly with us we do not have any commission to pay and this allows us to offer the very best direct rates to our customers. On top of receiving lower rates booking directly with us also cuts out the middle man when it comes to guest communications. This means that we receive much more accurate information about who is staying in the room and what their individual requirements are, which in turn makes for a far superior guest experience.
Our promise is this: if you find a better price than our direct prices anywhere online for the same room, same rate category, same number of guests for the same dates…. not only will we match it …we will give you an additional £10 off of your nightly rate to say thanks for pointing it out to us.
In this post we have compiled a list of questions and answers based on the most asked questions by travellers who are researching Raasay online.
“Can I visit Raasay?” – Yes! You can visit the island via the ferry that departs form Sconser on Skye. Check the Calmac website for the appropriate ferry timetable for the time of year that you are planning to visit. You can visit as a day visitors or stay over in one of our 21 bedrooms.
“Can you drive on Raasay?” – Yes! There are not many roads on Raasay but you may need a vehicle if you don’t cycle and you plan to explore the North of the island or some of the more out of the way spots.
“Is Raasay inhabited?” – Yes! There are around 170 residents that live here on the island.
“Who owns the Isle of Raasay?” – The island is not owned by any one party. The island has areas owned by the forestry commission, independent crofters, other private owners, community organisations.
“Are there any bars and restaurants on Raasay?” – Currently there is a restaurant and bar at Raasay House Hotel.
“Is there a petrol station on Raasay?” – No, so please make sure you fill up before coming over. The nearest filling stations are at Broadford or Portree on Skye (both 20 mins from the Sconser ferry terminal)
“How big is the Isle of Raasay?” – The island is 14 miles by 5 miles and has a an area of 62.31 km². This is just a little smaller than Manhattan Island in New York although the population there is around 1.5 million more than the Isle of Raasay population.
“Where do I get the Raasay ferry from?”– The Raasay ferry leaves from Sconser on Skye. The ferry takes about 20-25 minutes, there are 9 ferries a day except on Sundays where there are only 3.
“Do I need to book the Raasay ferry?” – No, just make sure you are in the queue about 10-15 minutes before the ferry is due to depart. You buy your tickets on the ferry.
“Does the Raasay ferry take card payments?” – Yes
“Is there an ATM on Raasay?” – No, there isn’t but you can withdraw money from the Post Office.
“Is there a supermarket on Raasay?” – No, however, there is a great community owned shop called Raasay Community Stores. There is also a Post Office within the store where you can withdraw money as you would at an ATM.
“Is Raasay part of the inner Hebrides?” – Yes, the Isle of Raasay is part of an archipelago of islands which make up the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.
“Is Raasay the same as Rothesay?” – No, they are not the same, Rothesay is a wee town on the Isle of Bute
“Is Dun Caan a volcano?” – It’s not a volcano but is volcanic in origin and is comprised of Basalt.
“Where is Raasay?” – The island of Raasay lies nestled between the Scottish mainland and the Isle of Skye. This unique position offers visitors to Raasay arguably some of the best views in Scotland.
“Is Dun Caan a Monroe?” – No, Dun Caan is 1771.65 feet high whereas Munros are 3000 feet or more high.
“What do people who live on Raasay do?” – The main employers for the Raasay population are: Raasay House Hotel, Raasay Distillery, Raasay Community Stores, Caledonian MacBrayne Clyde & Hebridean Ferries. There are also some independent businesses such as those making jewellery/gifts, a sawmill, building contractors, crofting of course and more.
“What is the top rated hotel on Raasay” – Raasay House Hotel is rated number one on TripAdvisor.
“Is there any cell reception on Raasay?” – Yes, the mobile phone or cell signal on Raasay is really quite good in most areas.
“Was the UK TV show SAS Who Dares Wins filmed on Raasay?” – YES! Raasay was the location for seasons 5 & 6 of this hit TV show and for seasons 2 & 3 of Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins (both filmed in 2019 and 2020). Raasay House Hotel was used as a base of operations for the crew in both instances.
When you first arrive on Raasay it can become a daunting task to decide what to do, where to go, and what things are on. But never fear weary traveller as I, your friendly neighbourhood hero, am here to shine a light on everything that Raasay has to offer.
Check the ferry times
First things first you must make sure (I can’t highlight the importance of this enough) TO READ THE FERRY TIMETABLE. As there is nothing worse than paying hard earned money to experience the beauty Raasay has to offer but instead experiencing all that sleeping in your car at the ferry waiting room has to offer.
I don’t mean to come off condescending but you would be surprised by the number of times tourist miss the ferry, on weekdays and Saturday’s that isn’t so bad as there are plenty of sailings throughout the day and an extra later sailing on Saturday in the summer. But on Sundays, there are only three sailings.
Raasay House Hotel
As you first arrive on the island you will spot the Georgian mansion ‘Raasay House’. Once the seat of power for the MacLeod’s of Raasay, it is now a hotel and activity centre. This might be where many of you readers will be staying for their time on the island but even if it’s not I’d advise going to the house at some point in their stay. It has a wonderful selection of food, activities and also provides hired bikes and bus tours of the island. Their shop offers helpful tools for travellers such as the ‘Exploring Raasay’ guidebook by Nick Fairweather that gives advice, directions and the difficulty of the best walks on the island. Also sold is the book ‘Calum’s road’, written by Roger Hutchinson who lives on the island. The book tells the true story of Calum Macleod who over a period of 10 years constructed one mile and three-quarters of road by himself with little more than a wheelbarrow, shovel and pickaxe. He did this to fight against people having to move away from his home in the north end of the Island due to how isolated it was. It is a story of the power of human determination and of the love you can have for your home, there is now a cairn near Brochel castle on the island that gives recognition to Calum’s achievement. Raasay House also has the only restaurant and pub on the island so if you would like to end the night with a refreshing beverage, it’s the place to be.
Raasay Community Stores
A staple of the island is ‘Raasay Stores” the community run shop that offers an assortment of food, drinks and all different things a traveller would find useful. From Monday to Saturday the shop is open from 9 till 6.
Just outside the shop is the community bulletin board that can tell you of anything exciting happening on the island. It could tell you of a range of events such as ceilidhs; The traditional Scottish dances that come with an insurance of music that forces you to your feet to dance and hoot to your heart’s content. And don’t be afraid to get involved if you don’t know the dances just ask a local to help you out, besides falling over and stepping on some toes is a part of the fun. So come along and have a taste of Scottish culture.
If something more sophisticated takes your fancy why not visit Raasay’s art gallery, that houses a mixture of art from the gallery owner and a mixture of jewellery and ornaments from other artists. The owner summed up his art saying that ‘variety is the spice of life. I would get bored doing the same thing over and over again’. The shops opening times are 11am to 5.30pm from Tuesday to Saturdays from Easter to October, so why not come and see the mixture of art and enjoy a friendly conversation with the owner who in my short time talking to him had the obvious pouring out of him, that he had truly fallen in love with the island. And If it is jewellery you are after then a must do stop would be at the silver grasshopper jewellery shop, that sells lovely jewellery and other great gifts, that will be perfect mementoes of your visit to Raasay. The shop is open from 1-5 pm from Tuesday to Saturday.
Raasay has an array of beautiful views, both of the island and of Skye that you can’t get anywhere else. It simply is a beautiful Island that never tires the eye. Each day you are on the island there won’t be a scenic sight that ever looks identical, there always seems to be slight changes or different perspectives that never fail to entice the eye. Now on an island such as this, it can be hard to know where to start or which places to pick, especially if you are on a tight schedule. So, I am going to recommend some of my favourite spots on the island that you should try to visit to get an Idea of the scenic sights that Raasay offers.
Now if time is of the essence for your stay on Raasay a good short walk is temptation hill. They are different paths you could take to reach temptation hill but if you are staying at Raasay house the quickest route is from the road behind Raasay House. If you follow it you will also go past the Raasay Pictish stone and not much further than that you will see a walking route sign post, next to a winding path that takes you up the fairly steep hill. Once you reach the top you will think that the hill couldn’t be more aptly named, as once you see the magnificent view of the sound Raasay and the curves, ridges and peaks of the Cuillins that dominate the skyline, you will be tempted to never leave the island. Also at the top of the hill is a memorial stone of a 19-year-old girl who died, the stone was placed on temptation hill as it was her favourite spot.
If you have a few hours to spare then your options for walks are much more varied. Such as the miner’s trail. To get to this walk just follow the main road from the ferry terminal, turning right once you reach the farm steading continue on this road and you will pass the church then the road splits off, go left here walking on the road alongside the Forrest keep going on this road and you will walk over a bridge keep going straight on until you reach a large tower like structure that are the remains of the old mine railroad. There is a sign saying the miner’s trail next to the path that takes you onto the trail. The rest of the walk you will be able to handle without out directions. It is a beautiful walk, with lovely views of the Cuillin and displays the typical Highland image of Heather for miles to see and brooding tall Scots pine trees scattered throughout. The walk comes to its fruition when you reach the hill above the old ferry pier that opens up to a truly jaw dropping view of the Cuillins, with the remains of the of the old mining buildings all over the hill.
Another of my favourite spots on the island is Hallaig that is both one of the most beautiful spots on the Island and a place steeped in great tragedy and sorrow. From the parking place at ferns follow the path northwards, you will walk along a memorising view of the east-coast of Raasay, and will eventually come to a memorial cairn for the people of Hallaig and other cleared crafting townships. On this, you will find a poem by native and famous poet Sorley MacLean titled Hallaig. The poem talks about the damage and impact the clearances had. You can choose to end your walk here or carry on the path and be able to see the abandoned township of Hallaig. Throughout Raasay’s history, people had settled in Hallaig and one can only think that there could of still be people living there today if not for the highland clearances. Once housing 34 families, family’s who had been in Hallaig for generations, were forced to leave their home, many going on emigration ships in search of a better life now that Hallaig had been taking from them. By the time it was over Hallaig’s population had dropped from 127 to 6. There is an eerie sense as you walk, touch and see the abandoned township. All that is left of the centuries of lives people had in Hallaig is ruins. If you close your eyes and listen to the swishing of the wind on the grass, for the cras
hing of the sea on the shore, and calls of the birds soaring in the sky. If you take them away is a
ll that is left silence? Or can you faintly hear the sound of children playing in the bracken, the men tending to their croft, and the sound of a crackling fire in the hearth that keeps the family warm?
Now we come to the best view on the island, the summit you will have seen on your journey to Raasay. The flat top the Island is known for, Dun Caan. There are two ways you can reach the highest point on the island. One being more difficult and longer while the other still being some distance is a much easier route and is the one I would recommend. Make sure to pick a clear day to climb Dun Caan otherwise you won’t get to appreciate it as best you could, make sure to bring warm clothes as even on a warm day it can still be quite chilly at the top. While it can take some time to reach the top you will hardly notice as you will be in a euphoric state seeing the fantastic views on the climb, and once you have reached the top of the basalt summit it will be near impossible to not fall in love with the island as you witness all the beauty that surrounds Raasay in one place. From the Cullins to Apple cross, you will have the views and perspectives of these places you could never get anywhere else. It floods your body with longing to try explore the rest of the world in an attempted to find anywhere that comes close to that beauty, and gives you a sense of awe that no matter what humanity creates, it will never come close to the beauty of the natural world. Well, it at least has that effect on me, but to find out for yourself you will have to make the climb.
And that brings this guide to an end. I hope it can be helpful to those that read it and are unsure on what to do on Raasay. Enjoy your time on the Island and get out and explore as that’s really the true wonder that Raasay offers, that you can go off the trail and path and find yourself in a place that can actually make you wonder if you could be the first person to be in this place for a very long time. It’s an Island that is perfect for feeding that sense of adventure and exploring in you. It’s an Island filled with beautiful views and friendly people. It’s an Island truly unlike any other.
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