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An island retreat

Highland Cottage is open from mid-March until mid-October.

We had promised ourselves years ago that the next time we set foot on the beautiful island of Mull it would not merely be as a stepping stone to Iona. After a long, cold, dark winter, we needed to find somewhere peaceful to recharge our batteries and to be pampered; somewhere to get away from it all.

A return to Mull was long overdue, and our choice of the Highland Cottage in Tobermory turned out to be a Winner -- for just a few days earlier the celebrity restaurant reviewer Michael Winner had dropped in for a one-night stay, so we hoped we would be in good company.

We discovered the six-bedroom Highland Cottage, overlooking Tobermory Bay, to be a real home from home with exceptional cuisine and genuine hospitality, down to the husband and wife team of David and Jo Currie -- David handles the front-of-house operation while Jo does the cooking.

They built the cottage on a derelict site in 1996 and have since won a string of awards which grace the walls of the dining room. Both are career hoteliers with many years of experience. David modestly says: “There’s nothing special about what we do here.” But he’s wrong, believe me.

“We try to make our guests feel special about their stay in what is, after all, our family home,” he says. “You just need to know what you are doing, work hard and like people.”

We certainly felt special, and Highland Cottage gave us just what we had hoped for; a hideaway from the stresses of everyday life in a small, luxurious hotel with homely comforts, including a lounge with a great selection of books and magazines to enjoy, along with a drink from the Honesty Bar -- with the stuffed head of a deer staring at us, we made sure our drinks were noted in the little book.

Our room, Tiree, had a queen-sized bed, tea and coffee-making facilities, home-baked biscuits, a Freeview digital TV, a telephone, hair dryers, a CD player, a DVD player, an iPod dock, bathrobes … and the best bit; grapefruit-scented soap, which was like being showered in sauvignon blanc.

The culinary experience begins when enjoying pre-dinner drinks in the sun lounge -- an extension of the restaurant -- when canapes are served as you try to decide which food to order.

All the food is cooked to order, and my wife particularly enjoyed the Gressingham duck on our second night. There is also a wide range of wines, with one couple opting for a Chateau Musar from Lebanon; they assured us they had, indeed, made the correct choice.

While we just wanted chill-out time -- and that is exactly what we got at Highland Cottage -- there is also plenty to do on Mull, from wildlife watching, to simply going for a drive (we did that on the Sunday, but a mist off the sea called for total concentration from the driver), taking the ferry to Iona or Staffa or, for the more adventurous, going whale watching.

Whatever you do when you visit Highland Cottage, you can be assured of top-class accommodation, superb food, great wine and, most importantly, you are made to feel extra-special.

WHERE TO STAY

Highland Cottage is open from mid-March until mid-October. Based on two sharing, bed and breakfast costs from £155 per night and dinner, bed and breakfast from £245 per night. Dinner in Highland Cottage’s two AA-rosette restaurant costs £47.50. Visit www.highlandcottage.co.uk or call 01688 302030.

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