Here’s a deep dive on what it’s like to stay at Near Byre, Waternish, on the Isle of Skye…
This is my review of our magical stay at Near Byre, Waternish, on the Isle of Skye.
I wouldn’t usually dedicate a whole post to the accommodation somewhere, but sometimes a place is just pretty special. And the Airbnb we stayed in on Skye was very much that.
Some people just like to have their accommodation as a place to bunk down in for the night. However, I usually like to stay somewhere that makes me feel like I’m on holiday, even when I’m just scrolling on my phone on the couch.
Well, Near Byre in Skye was all of those things. It was cosy, characterful, and stylishly decorated. Pretty much the perfect pitstop after chilly days of climbing, hiking, and exploring in Skye! Here’s my guide to what you can expect when you stay at Near Byre, and why I had such a wonderful time!
If you’re interested in staying in Skye, you may also like these posts…
Where is Near Byre?
Near Byre is located in the village of Waternish in Skye, which is set on a narrow peninsula in the north of the island. It took us a full hour to get here from the Skye Bridge which showed – to me at least – just how much bigger the island was than I expected!
I’ll talk more about what you can do in Waternish below.
What’s it like inside?
There are so many beautiful features in Near Byre, Waternish. It’s packed with character, a lot of which comes from the fact that the building itself has been beautifully restored from an old cow byre.
The tell-tale stone wall of the byre remains as a key feature in the space, separating the bedroom from the kitchen and dining area. While it’s plastered over on one side you can still see the stonework exposed from the other, which is gorgeous.
It is worth noting that the space is fully open plan. I’m all for that, but it may not be for everyone.
Look out for the Near Byre coffee table book, where you can read all about the renovation project. It’s amazing to see the before photos and how much work went into the project.
Views from Near Byre
One of the best parts of staying at Near Byre, Waternish is the amazing views.
The flagship views of the property are in the near corner, which beautifully frame the surrounding peninsula. However, all around the place there are long narrow windows that slice up different views of the surrounding countryside in surprising ways.
They’re the kind of windows that you see in Grand Designs or Ugly House to Lovely House, the Kevin McCloud and George Clark tend to rave about. They sit perfectly with your eye line. I loved peeking out of them when I was boiling the kettle or getting ready in the AM.
The heart of the living room space is the amazing wood burner. It’s set in the corner of the room with floor to ceiling windows behind it, which are stunning. There’s a small sofa and a lovely Scandi-style chair which was incredibly comfortable.
Behind this area there’s a kitchen and dining area, complete with a table and chairs. As I mention later on, the kitchen also comes stocked with a delicious goodie bag of treats for you to enjoy on arrival.
First of all: the bed. I came away from Near Byre, Waternish thinking that I definitely need to order a better-quality duvet for my own house. This one was lovely – it had a heaviness to it that was just so cosy when it was dark and windy outside. The throws certainly helped too.
There is a mirror with a plug socket next to it which is great for doing your hair in the morning. It’s fairly often I find a plug next to a mirror is an ask too far in accommodation and so this was most welcome. The other great addition was a useful clothing rail.
The bathroom is a little slice of heaven. It’s beautifully decorated and feels luxurious and comfortable. One of the best part is the heated flooring, which kept our feet toasty in the morning and after days out in the cold. I also loved the Highland Soap Company toiletries in the shower – the Hebridean seaweed body wash in particularly was really zingy and fresh.
Things I loved about Near Byre, Waternish…
The accommodation is set at an elevated position from the road and that means you’re able to enjoy some absolutely phenomenal views of the surroundings. We enjoyed these mostly from the comfort of the couch, with the wood burner firmly on, but there’s also a bench perched outside that would be the perfect place to sit in the summer and soak it all up.
The owners, John and Vicki
I think most of us have got used to not seeing the owners at Airbnbs over the past few months as Covid restrictions have taken hold. It’s usually all about key boxes these days, right? But the owners at Near Byre, John and Vicki, were there to welcome us in and make sure we had as good a time as possible. They were so kind and welcoming and warm and really made us feel so at home in their place.
The cute animals
We got used to seeing the owner’s dogs, Bramble and Rhubarb, while we were there. Rhubarb is a tiny little puppy and loved chasing our dog around. There are also pigs and sheep on the croft which guests are welcome to feed! I did it and it was great fun. The pigs are called Lucy and Lynas – I always seem to come across animals with the same name as me so it did make me chuckle, not gonna lie!
How friendly everyone was
I mention later on that when we arrived we struggled to find the right turning in the dark. We pulled up on the roadside and I got out of the car to see if I could see any door numbers on the side. One of the neighbours was just exiting his property and asked if we needed any help. He then proceeded to get his wife who was able to tell exactly where our Airbnb was.
I didn’t notice until we arrived that there’s no TV at Near Byre, Waternish. I’m quite a Netflix junkie normally – I love having something on in the background when I’m writing. However, it was actually lovely to just sit down and read my book. I never read as much as I want to so it was great to have some time for this. Although, I must confess, we did watch the final F1 race of the season on a laptop!
Is there anything I didn’t like about Near Byre, Waternish?
Honestly, I loved everything about staying here. One thing I would highlight is that it is located next door to the owner’s house and you have to walk directly past their house to get there. That wasn’t a problem for us, but if you want to really get away from it all you may want a cottage that feels like it’s secluded from other properties.
How long should you stay at Near Byre?
We were there for five nights, and that’s because I wanted to have a break that actually felt relaxing. I hate it when you go on holiday, spend the whole time rushing around, and then you’re back at work wondering why you don’t feel refreshed in the slightest. Aside from anything else, it’s a wonderful space and such a cosy little nook to spend time in.
Travel tips for staying at Near Byre, Waternish
The nearest supermarket is the Co-op in Portree, which is around a twenty-minute drive away. We’d gone past a supermarket when we first arrived on the island and just assumed we’d pass another one on the way, and we didn’t. We then just had to have soup for dinner. If you want a good first-night dinner, make sure you stop at a supermarket on the way!
We couldn’t find the sign for Near Byre. It’s next-level dark in Skye as it’s so remote and there aren’t lots of houses to light up the roads. That meant that spotting the sign on the side of the road was trickier than it should’ve been. Although I also think we were just being a bit silly as well! But if you could do anything better than us it would be to try and arrive in daylight hours!
Everything else for your first night is already there. It may be self-catering, but there was a charming welcome basket full of treats when we arrived. There was milk and orange juice in the fridge, a loaf of freshly baked bread, granola, jam, and two large slabs of Victoria sponge. The cake was absolutely delicious. Of course, I practically inhaled it as soon as we arrived!
Dog walkers. There is a patch of grass outside the property where you can let your dog out for a pee. However, if you want to let your dog have a proper run around nearby then you need to head down the track a little further to find a fully sealed-up field. It definitely helped us work off some of Casper’s energy before heading out for the day.
There’s wood for the fire already there so you don’t have to worry about having any with you when you arrive. We ended up picking some up anyway, but it’s good to know!
Things to do in Waternish
There are a few beautiful bridges in Skye. The most famous is probably the Sligachan Old Bridge, which is set against the backdrop of the Cuillin mountains. It’s said that if you wash your face in the water under the bridge you’ll be blessed with eternal beauty.
However, Waternish has its own charming bridge, which is the Fairy Bridge. The bridge is just off the main road. It’s said to mark the spot where a fairy wife of a MacLeod chief said goodbye to her husband and returned to her own people. It’s maybe not quite so famous as the other bridges on the island but I love the enchanting fairy mythology nonetheless.
The Stein Inn
If you like character then you will love the Stein Inn in Waternish, because it has it in spades! As soon as I walked in I just knew it was my kind of place. There are low ceilings, beams, twinkly fairy lights, and a huge double-aspect open fire in the heart of the room. It’s also set right by the loch, which wasn’t so great for us as it was pitch black by the time we arrived. But I imagine in the summer months that it’s really rather lovely!
I had the mussels to start with, which came with a white wine and cream sauce and were absolutely delicious. For the main course I had the fish and chips, which wasn’t bad – although I didn’t love the mushy peas. I was a little bit too full by that time anyway!
Loch Bay Restaurant
There are two restaurants in Waternish. The first is the Stein Inn that I talked about above, which is traditional and cosy. The other one is Loch Bay Restaurant, which is a Michelin-starred restaurant. We actually went to the other Michelin-star restaurant on the Isle of Skye, The Three Chimneys, and so we didn’t make it here, but it looks lovely.
What else is nearby?
Coral Beach and Dunvegan Castle and two really popular tourist attractions that aren’t far away. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to either. The Castle was closed for the winter and while we make an attempt to get to the beach, the weather didn’t play ball. I’ll definitely be returning to Skye at some point in the future though, so they’re on the list.