My partner and I traveled to Barra, a remote Scottish island with beautiful beaches.
We spent two nights at a beachside hotel and on our second night we were the only guests.
The experience shows that traveling right before the off-season has its benefits.
When my partner and I travel together, we usually opt for city breaks.
We've gotten accustomed to the buzz and commotion that come with long lines and crowded rooms. We never imagined that we would one day have an entire hotel to ourselves.
Cut to earlier in September when we checked into the Isle of Barra Beach Hotel on Barra, a remote island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
Barra is known for its wildlife and white sandy beaches which often lead visitors to draw comparisons to the Caribbean. It seemed like the perfect contrast to the sweltering, overcrowded cities we had grown accustomed to.
We spent two nights at the hotel, which is located on Tangasdale beach on the west of the island. There were three other couples on the first night, but they all checked out the next day — leaving us completely alone.
Welcome to Barra, a remote Scottish island known for its natural beauty.
The Isle of Barra is a remote island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides which is accessible via ferry from Oban, which takes just under five hours, or by plane which takes just over one hour from Glasgow Airport.
The island is most known for its white sandy beaches, which are often compared to the Caribbean. During our visit, I heard fellow visitors refer to the island as "Barabados," an affectionate nickname said to be widely used by locals, according to the Daily Mail.
My partner and I traveled via plane and stayed at the Isle of Barra Beach Hotel. Our sea-view room cost £350, or around $426, for two nights.
We stayed at the Isle of Barra Beach Hotel right before the island's off-season for two nights.
We had initially planned to visit the island in July, but ended up pushing the trip to September because of work.
However, we didn't consider that our trip fell right before the island's off-season.
A hotel employee informed us we were the final guests before the hotel closed for the winter. She added that some of the restaurants in the area were also due to close a couple of days after our trip because soon there wouldn't be many tourists.
She said the best time to visit is May, as there is a higher chance of sunlight and less chance of rain.
We checked in at the same time as two other couples.
We checked into the hotel on a Friday afternoon along with two other couples who had been on the same flight from Glasgow.
After checking in, we had a cup of tea at the hotel's restaurant, which looked out to the sea. My partner and I were the only people around as the other couples had already gone out to explore the beach and the hotel grounds. I felt lucky that we got to enjoy the vast, open sea views privately.
The staff made us sandwiches, even though the restaurant doesn't have a lunch menu.
When booking the hotel, we were told in the confirmation email that its restaurant serves a breakfast buffet, which is included in the price of the room.
The email said that a two-course dinner can also be requested in advance for a set price of £30, or around $36, per person. The dinner, which includes soup and a variety of mixed salad options, is made using local ingredients from throughout the Hebrides and served with a glass of wine, the email added.
We didn't have dinner at the hotel because we already had a couple of restaurants in mind that we wanted to try.
Despite not having a lunch menu, the staff brought out sandwiches and potato chips shortly after we checked in because my partner mentioned we didn't have a chance to grab lunch. It was a lovely gesture and something I couldn't imagine happening at a major chain hotel in a city.
Our sea-view room had a double bed, a table with tea and coffee facilities, and two chairs (not pictured).
The decor was simple; the walls were painted white and there was a beach print on the wall. There were gray curtains to match the bedspread and a bright blue carpet.
Instead of a closet, there was a rail with clothes hangers.
The clothes rail added to the room's minimalist aesthetic. I've stayed at more lavish hotels in the past, but I didn't mind the lack of luxury since the room was spacious and comfortable.
The best thing about the room was the view.
All of the rooms in the hotel look directly onto the beach. The view looked like a real-life painting.
We spotted dolphins swimming in the sea.
Whales, dolphins, and seals are common in the Outer Hebrides. We spotted several dolphins from our window, and a staff member later told us that some of the hotel's previous guests had gone swimming with the dolphins.
The bathroom was also sparse, with a standard bath and a shower.
There was also a basket of towels with a sign stating that the hotel would only provide new towels upon request for sustainability reasons.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the buffet.
The breakfast buffet had a selection of muesli, cereals, oatmeal, sliced bread, jams, and yogurt. I opted for oatmeal with honey and banana, while my partner enjoyed cereal and toast.
We were joined in the restaurant by three couples, who all checked out of the hotel later that afternoon.
When the other guests checked out, we had the hotel to ourselves for 24 hours.
We spent most of the day exploring the island. We returned to an empty hotel, and the staff kindly remarked that we were "part of the family" seeing as we were the only guests.
My partner and I spent the evening in the lounge and bar area, which was especially cozy as some of the couches had blankets on them for guests. As we were served drinks, I couldn't help but notice how kind and personable the staff were as they chatted with us.
They asked questions about our home in Glasgow and seemed genuinely happy to share anecdotes about their own lives. I'm not sure if we would have had the same bond with them if there had been other guests around.
The next morning, we arrived to an empty restaurant for breakfast.
It was our last breakfast at the hotel before we were due to fly back to Glasgow that afternoon. The hotel was still empty, and an employee informed us we were the last guests before it closed for the off-season.
Instead of the usual buffet, breakfast was served at our table by the window.
On our first morning at the hotel, a buffet was spread out on a couple of large tables at the front of the room for all guests to enjoy. But because there was only my partner and I on the second morning, the staff made a breakfast spread on our table which included fresh fruit, cereal, toast, oatmeal, and tea and coffee.
Our server was fantastic and took the opportunity to chat to us about her family and her experience living in Barra. She said she had lived on the island for 17 years and that many people come to Barra for "healing" purposes.
The customer service was excellent, as she regularly asked us if we required any more food, and even gave us some fruit to take in our bags to the airport.
The experience taught me that traveling before or during the off-season can be rewarding.
As Insider previously reported, traveling during the off-season has its downsides. Local businesses and restaurants may be temporarily closed, and the weather will likely be less than desirable.
But luckily for us, we found a sweet spot to travel right before any of these things happened. We managed to avoid the disadvantages while reaping the benefit of being the only guests at the beach hotel.
We were treated like VIPs, and more importantly, we were able to build real connections with the staff working at the hotel. It was an experience I won't forget anytime soon.
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