Plans revealed for Ardbeg's transformation of the Islay Hotel

The whisky company bought the island hotel in 2022 and will reopen in spring 2025 after a refurbishment.

Published 5th Mar 2024
Updated 5 th Mar 2024

Ardbeg, the Islay single malt Scotch whisky, is planning a luxurious transformation the Islay Hotel, which was bought by the company in 2022.

The firm has now revealed a multi-million pound refurbishment plan, with designs inspired by the island and whisky.

Ardbeg has been distilling its untamed smoky whisky on Islay for more than 200 years, and aims to do all it can to make the island a great place to work, live and visit.

When the opportunity came to invest in the town of Port Ellen by acquiring the hotel, The Glenmorangie Company, owners of Ardbeg, bought the hotel to allow it to "create another world-class whisky and hospitality experience" on Islay.

The team plans to run the hotel in its current guise until late summer 2024, with all existing bookings honoured. After a short closure period, they aim to re-open in May 2025, with a distinctly 'Ardbeggian' restyling of every floor. During the renovation, all hotel staff will be retained and temporarily redeployed to other roles on the island.

Ardbeg The Islay Hotel

Led by interior design company Russell Sage Studio, who are known for The Fife Arms in Braemar and have already played a leading role in the transformation of the distillery’s visitor centre, proposed changes include:

  • A reimagined bar with courtyard, called The Islay Bar. Named after the hotel’s much-loved former watering hole which closed years ago, it is designed as a hub to bring local residents and visitors together;
  • A new-look restaurant on the ground floor, which will be open to non-residents, with a private dining room for special occasions.
  • A new name for the hotel, which will be known as Ardbeg House;
  • Quirky and luxurious bedrooms and suites, each telling unique stories of Islay and its legends and Ardbeg, complete with numerous playful details and hidden surprises;
  • An exclusive space for hotel residents and members of the Ardbeg Committee – the brand’s loyal following – on the lower ground floor, with an area for games, a whisky cave and a unique after-hours-style warmth. The Committee is free to join on;
  • An exclusive Ardbeg whisky, only available at the hotel and the Ardbeg Distillery Visitor Centre

CEO Caspar MacRae said: “We are dedicated to making our island a great place to live and visit. So we are tremendously excited about our plans to create a world-class whisky and hospitality experience for Islay residents, visitors to the island and Committee Members.

"We welcome all to come and explore the best of Islay. While the hotel will, of course, be a spiritual home for the most ardent Ardbeggians, we promise even those just getting to know the world’s smokiest, peatiest Islay malt, will leave lifelong fans.”

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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