Get past the rampant misogyny, near-permanent mortal peril and an innuendo-laden wit with all the mental intelligence of a four-year-old, and there’s a lot to like about James Bond.
Between the sartorial style, the limitless bank balance, and the globe-hopping itinerary, there’s more than enough to tempt us all into experiencing a little 00-heaven.
Yes Spectre broke box office records all over the place, but if we’re all really honest with ourselves (*judgemental staring intensifies*), then Skyfall was the best Bond in recent memory.
Part of that was thanks to Javier Bardem’s gloriously homo-erotic megalomaniacal super-villain. But the real cinematic joy came from exploring Bond’s past and, more specifically, his Scottish heritage. Cue oodles of shots of the Scottish highlands, and just as many calls to the Scottish Tourist Board.
Well look no further, because a visit to Isle of Eriska ticks every box. Not only does the drive there (along the A82) incorporate a hefty swathe of the movie’s sweeping shots of the Highlands, but the hotel itself is everything you’d want from a Bond-ian life experience.
Situated on a private island, hidden away from the world (Bond villain lair alert!), in a five star manor lodge originally built in 1884 (swanky Gentleman’s retreat alert!), and boasting a Michelin starred restaurant and bar overflowing with the finest world-class food and liqueurs (How To Woo Like Bond 101), it’s the ultimate haven for those craving a high-class holiday.
Featured as it is in Relais & Chateaux’s bewilderingly superb portfolio of five star properties, you know you’re in for a treat – and from the moment we crossed the rickety, clattering bridge onto the private island and our phone signal petered out into non-existence, it was clear that things were about to get secluded. Special agent-levels of secluded.
The hotel itself is retina-dazzling in its ye olde castle glory; all turrets and period features, flanked by a tranquil waterway and freshly mown lawns. The interior is just as intoxicating, stuffed full of ornate period features, and boasting the ultimate in upper class finery – a roaring fire that burnt away as we entered the main hall, and an incredible oak staircase crafted at the turn of the 20th century.
The rooms are just as refined, offering modern luxurious facilities with a rustic twist; each and every one is a distinctive shape and size, and while all the amenities are utterly five star, each boasts a personality beholden to the hotel’s days of yore.
As dusk approached, we peeled ourselves off our supremely comfortable mattresses, and strolled onto the island’s grounds in search of adventure. With 300 acres to amble around, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained. From conversation areas (wildlife galore – keep your peepers peeled for otters, deer, badgers and more) to a 9 hole golf course, swimming pool, woodland trails, and a modern spa all situated on the island, Eriska is a world unto itself. As the sun started to set, we strode through the flush forestry and reached the highest point of the island in time to see the last rays rippling across the surrounding lochs.
After hanging up our hunting jackets and shaking off our wellies, we settled in for a night of incredible food (Michelin starred NOM as standard, with mouth-watering tasting menus available, too), chest-warming tipples (we went for whiskey over a Bond-ian martini, but when they’re sourced locally from the Speyside, it’s hard to argue), and the ultimate in luxury cosiness – a snooze by the crackling fire, before retiring to a bed warmed up by hot water bottles.
Sure, hot water bottles may not scream ‘international assassin playboy’, but then that’s why the Isle of Eriska is so welcoming – all the fun of a Bondian lifestyle, with none of the heartbreak, peril or pesky death.
GT stayed at Isle of Erika. Room rates start from £184 per person for dinner (in the Michelin-starred restaurant), bed and breakfast, morning coffee and afternoon tea. eriska-hotel.co.uk / 01631 720371