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Best Isles of Scilly hotels 2023: Where to stay for a luxury or budget UK island escape

From castles to rustic eco lodges, unwind island-style at these top stays

Anna Richards
Tuesday 11 April 2023 10:32 BST
(Hell Bay Hotel)

The ethereal shimmer of the quartz-encrusted sand as you step off the boat in the Isles of Scilly is the stuff of fairytales. Rather than mermaids, though, the oiled bodies on rocks are those of fat, grey seals, or perhaps even a walrus. Wally, all the way from the Arctic Circle, was arguably the worst-behaved guest on Scilly a couple of years ago, and amused himself by merrily swamping islanders’ boats during his stay.

The islands are popular with the royals, but with rustic ecocamps, wild campsites and homely B&Bs, you don’t need a Royal Mint to enjoy travel in Scilly. (That being said, you can stay in a castle.) Think luxury on a budget. Views you’ll remember for a lifetime accompanied by freshly sourced food washed down with a glass of something cool from the local brewery.

It’s an ideal destination for active travellers too, with plenty of scenic walking, swimming and running routes.

Best luxury hotel: The Star Castle

Island: St Mary’s

(The Star Castle)

Built during the 16th century in the shape of an eight-point star, The Star Castle is wonderfully historic, overlooking the old Garrison Walls. If you can tear yourself away from the panoramic sea views from the ramparts, there’s an indoor heated pool, and on-site golf and tennis to enjoy. The well-stocked bar even serves wine from the hotel’s own vineyard, on St. Mary’s itself, a little further inland.

Best for foodies: St Mary’s Hall Hotel

Island: St Mary’s

(St Mary’s Hall )

A little townhouse with bright rooms, and a drool-worthy menu, St Mary’s Hall enjoys an enviable location in the strip of town between Porthcressa and Town Beaches. Haute-cuisine is the name of the game, and afternoon tea and apéritifs can be enjoyed in the Mediterranean garden. The hotel also owns a beachside grill in a converted boatshed a stone’s throw away.

Best for island-hopping: Tregarthen’s Hotel

Island: St Mary’s


Right on the main quay, Tregarthen’s takes people-watching to a new level, as passengers embark and disembark from the Scillonian and fishermen unload the catch of the day. Recently refurbished, the 35 rooms run with a nautical theme, and there are six self-catered holiday cottages on-site too. It’s the prime location for hopping on boats for day trips to the other islands.

Best for views: Hell Bay Hotel

Island: Bryher

(Hell Bay)

Quiet little Bryher, the smallest inhabited island on Scilly, is an artist’s haven, with ramshackle studios lining the beach behind the archipelago’s most luxurious accommodation, the Hell Bay Hotel. Even in the height of summer, the Scillies feel tranquil and remote, but nowhere more so than here, nestled amongst craggy granite cairns and hidden bays. Enjoying a sundowner overlooking the lagoon is the perfect combination of comfort and isolation.

Best beach hotel: Karma St. Martin’s

Island: St Martin’s

(Karma St Martin’s)

There’s often a tendency to rank the five inhabited islands of Scilly by preference, and whilst each is special for different reasons, the beaches on St. Martin’s take some beating. The island is just two miles in length, but the carpet of glittering white sand that frames the hotel’s front garden gives the impression that the beach goes on forever. Equipped with an exceptional spa, staying here takes relaxation to a new level. Dogs are welcome.

Best for green-fingered travellers: The New Inn

Island: Tresco

(The New Inn)

If paradise is a garden then surely paradise is Tresco. The New Inn is the sole hotel on the island (all other accommodation is self-catered), with a warm, friendly atmosphere and a bar decorated with wreckwood and beachcombed artefacts which draws locals and tourists alike. The kaleidoscopic colours of the Scillies are trippy wherever you go in the archipelago, but Tresco’s rainbow hedgerows look as though someone has upended a palette of watercolours over them.

Best for active travellers: Mincarlo Guesthouse

Island: St Mary’s

(Mincarlo Guesthouse)

While the appeal of stretching out with an Aperol Spritz in the sun is difficult to deny, the Isles of Scilly are an adventure playground for active travellers. Hosts Nick and Bryony Lishman of Mincarlo Guesthouse run yoga, running, walking and swimming retreats from their cosy seafront home. There are 11 rooms and a self-catered flat, and a slap-up breakfast is included.

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Best romantic hotel for couples: The Atlantic

Island: St Mary’s

(The Atlantic Inn)

St. Austell Brewery-owned The Atlantic has comfortable rooms, an enviable location on the main street with harbour views and, most importantly, an extensive, varied food and drink menu. Watch the catch of the day being caught in the harbour, and dream of the sailors of old in the maritime-themed rooms.

Best for families: Peninnis Farm Lodges

Island: St Mary’s

(Peninnis Farm Lodges)

Perched above Peninnis Lighthouse, the ‘newest’ lighthouse on Scilly at just over a century old, Peninnis Farm Lodges offer back-to-nature self-catering stays in their eco lodges, set amidst a 50 acre farm. Each lodge comes equipped with a barbeque and firepit, and home-reared beef and pork can be purchased on-site for summer cookouts. Children (and adults too) can collect fresh eggs in the morning in the company of Farmer Dan.

Best for walkers: The Wheelhouse 

Island: St Mary’s

(The Wheelhouse)

Just steps away from the coastal path and Porthcressa Beach, The Wheelhouse has nine comfortable, airy rooms and a palm tree-lined garden with sea views. Breakfast is an institution. A continental spread and a hearty cooked breakfast are offered daily to line the stomachs of hungry hikers preparing to circumnavigate the island.

Read more of our hotel reviews in Cornwall

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