Oban: The Underrated Scottish Seaside Town You Need to Have on Radar

Oban: The Underrated Scottish Seaside Town You Need to Have on Radar

A gateway to the Scottish Hebrides, the sleepy seaside town of Oban makes for a great detox destination. Expect freshly foraged fare on menus, blissfully cosy boltholes to bed down at and scenic hiking trails galore


Oban, Scotland.

Why now?

Anchored on the sleepy north-west coast of Scotland, the weather-beaten town of Oban
(Gaelic for “The Little Bay”) is known as the gateway to the
Scottish Hebrides. Home to a saw-toothed coastline, single-track
roads often frequented only by sheep and soaring peaks, the
surrounding area is a magnet for adventurers keen to spend some
quality time in the great outdoors, but it’s right in the heart of
Oban that we suggest you stay.

With a population of around 8,000 full-time residents, the town
is slow-paced and peaceful – something we’d argue is the sign of
every great staycation destination. Historically a small fishing
and trading hub, the arrival of a distillery (we’ll get onto that)
saw the neighbourhood start to evolve. Today, despite the arrival
of a stylish boutique hotel and a handful of farm-to-fork eateries,
a tranquil air remains. Keen to savour the refreshing and
restorative scenery for ourselves, we headed off-grid to scout out the best spots for a drink and
what not to miss while in town.

Oban, Scotland

A moody Oban, left, and a misty hillside. | Photo credit:
Banik & Reding / Unsplash.com

Don’t miss

Known as the birthplace of whisky, Scotland is home to one of
the greatest concentrations of whisky production in the world.
There are some 100 different grain and malt distilleries dotted
across the country, including Oban
. Sitting pretty on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean,
this dinky set-up dates back to 1793, when brothers Hugh and John
Stevenson first opened a brewing company. Before long, though, they
turned their attention to whisky, and the rest is history. To learn
more about the fermentation process (and taste a dram or two for
yourself), book onto one of the regular tasting tours.

You’ll find an abundance of trails on which to smash your daily
step count, with something to suit all experience levels. For a
challenging, 14.5km circular route, take the ferry to the Isle of
Kerrera; the gentle Ganavan Sands walk, which passes Dunstaffnage
Castle, meanwhile, is better suited to beginners.

Where to stay?

It’s got to be the sophisticated and snug No17 The Promenade, whose 19 individually
designed bedrooms offer sweeping views of the surrounding mystical
mountains and lochs, and are the type of cosy that demands you run
a bubble bath and snuggle into a fluffy robe. Highlights include
handcrafted wallpapers, leather headboards (the good kind), velvet
cushions, embroidered throws and gold-laced light fixtures. From
dainty vanity areas decorated with concave mirrors to accent
armchairs perched beside enormous water-facing windows, it’s the
smaller corners that carry the most thoughtful details. Then
there’s the in-house restaurant, which is worth hopping on a flight
for in itself. Walls clad in vibrant abstract prints, crimson
banquette seating and checkerboard form the backdrop to a
sensational seasonal menu – be prepared to sink into gourmet
heaven. The scallops were up there with the best we’ve ever

Mussels, Pot

A freshly baked loaf of bread, left, and a pot of mussels. |
Photo credit: Jenifer & Nikolay / Unsplash.com

Where to go for dinner?

Truth be told, Oban’s restaurants aren’t exactly the most
design-driven of spaces, so don’t expect to find bunting-clad beams
or flower-strewn tabletops. Rather, it’s top-quality, hyperlocal
ingredients that carry weight around here. Head to The Waterfront
, where the finest Scottish seafood and freshly foraged
ingredients await. Standouts include prawn tacos, flavour-filled
soups and wine-drizzled mussels – and that, FYI, is just the
starters menu. Indulge in artisan breads, trios of fish and
award-winning puds.

And for a drink…

Friday night? There are two choices on the cards: a trip to one
of the town’s old-school boozers or a late-night tipple in the
hotel bar – we warned you that this is a detox destination. We
suggest making Markie Dans your drinking den of choice. The
family-run spot hosts regular music events and has an impressively
large selection of whiskies to choose from.

Who to take with you?

Your friend who has been trying to convince you to book a
wholesome weekend in the countryside. We can think of no better
place to unwind with our best mate than this. Blustery walks and
healthy grub, here we come.

Essentials to pack

Everyone knows that the correct choice of footwear is imperative
to both style and support, but it’s only recently that we’ve
discovered just how big a role socks play in the protection game –
no one wants to fall victim to a blister while sporting their new
kicks on holiday. Pack these Raey ribbed cotton hiking socks to stomp around
Oban’s hills à la mode.

How to get there

Take a direct flight from London Gatwick to Glasgow
International Airport, from where it’s a two-hour drive to the
centre of town. Alternatively, fly into Edinburgh Airport, where you can enjoy a few days
exploring Scotland’s charming capital city before heading to

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