Machrie Links Riding High After Major Reno

(Image: Machrie Hotel and Links)

The hotel offers sweeping views of the links and Laggan Bay. (Image: Machrie Hotel and Links)

Machrie Hotel and Links on the Isle of Islay is enjoying a new wave of popularity following a major renovation of a hotel and golf course beloved by holidayers since 1891.

(Last updated April 2021.)

One of Scotland’s best-loved golf resorts is still basking in the afterglow of a massive five-year renovation completed in 2018.

Located on the Isle of Islay (pronounced “Eye-la”), Machrie Hotel and Links reopened to rave reviews that November with 47 rooms and suites, as well as four new lodges a short walk from the refurbished Victorian-era hotel. Large windows throughout the stylishly modernized and expanded resort draw attention to a setting that includes sweeping dunes and seven miles of pristine beachfront on Laggan Bay.

Scottish golf professional and Machrie Links designer Willie Campbell.

Machrie Links was originally designed by Scottish golf professional Willie Campbell.

It’s a dream links landscape that has drawn golfers ever since Scottish golf professional Willie Campbell laid out the original course in 1891. Full of blind shots and other quirks, Machrie made headlines in 1901 when the “Great Triumvirate”—James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Harry Vardon—played a match here for a then-record purse of £100.

English golf architect and former Ryder Cup assistant coach D.J. Russell oversaw an almost complete overhaul of a links both loved and feared. Just three greens remain from the original incarnation. And gone are many of the blind shots, with several holes shifted closer to Laggan Bay to improve playability and to take advantage of natural fairway corridors. Though Machrie still has its quirks, the look and feel is now more that of a classic Scottish links.

Overlooking the new 18th hole is 18 Restaurant & Bar, which stocks a large selection of whiskies, most of them produced by the eight local distilleries. The Isle of Islay, located 14 miles off the west coast of Scotland, is famous as “Whisky Island” for the popularity of its characteristically peaty and smoky single malts. Whisky distillation, agriculture and tourism drive the economy of an island of 3,000 inhabitants accessed by ferry from the mainland, as well by air from Glasgow.

Machrie Hotel lounge (Image: Machrie Hotel and Links)

Refurbished Machrie Hotel is “bright, chic and comfortable.” (Image: Machrie Hotel and Links)

The Daily Telegraph described the new Machrie Hotel’s appearance and ambience as “bright, chic and comfortable, with a nice clubhouse feel in the main restaurant and bar, topped with a vast vaulted ceiling with architecturally striking touches.” One of seven luxury resorts managed by Campbell Gray Hotels, the property includes meeting spaces, a private screening room, a fitness centre, and the island’s only spa.

But golf is the big draw. There’s a teaching academy and a driving range, as well as the Hebrides putting course and the six-hole, par-three Wee Course—all featuring panoramic views of reborn Machrie Links.