Hebridean Princess Cabins
There are three grades of single cabin, five double or twin grades, and one suite (Isle of Arran). Most have outside views (there are three inside singles and three inside twins), are named after islands, glens or other Scottish landmarks, and are highly individual in design with top-quality soft furnishings and bed linen, Molton Brown toiletries and soft towels.
Although the cabins vary in size and decor, all have the same accessories and every passenger experiences the same class of service: tea and coffee-making facilities (in the shape of very pretty china tea sets, not the usual bland white mugs), hairdryers, safes, flat-screen TVs and DVD players; mini-bars with jugs of fresh milk and soft drinks, and fluffy bathrobes with cozy cotton slippers.
Isle of Arran is the only suite on the ship, with a separate living room and bathroom with bathtub. There are four balcony cabins, two aft on the Promenade Deck (Isle of Bute, Isle of Berneray) and two forward on the Princess Deck (Isle of Barra and Isle of Berbecula).
There are 10 single cabins, varying in size and style (Isla and Mull have larger beds, and are slightly pricier); two have baths. There are no single supplements.
All the cabins have traditional furniture -- solid wood bedside tables, desks and wardrobes -- and fittings, such as lights, hand-painted tissue boxes and photographs of the place the cabin is named after.
The cabin we stayed in, Isle of Iona, was bedspreaded with red cushions. It had a solid wood desk, two single wardrobes, and inset halogen ceiling lights supplementing cream-shaded brass lamps above the bed and on the desk (thus providing excellent light for late-night readers).
Oblong (and open-able) brass-trimmed picture windows provided good light by day as well.
The bathrooms vary in style dramatically: the front cabins have traditional marble-walled bathroom with a deep (and quickly filled) bath, gold plated taps, solid Edwardian-style square sink and heated towel rack.
A refurbishment in the aft cabins in 2012, sadly lost the the traditional style to be replaced with a rather bland corporate design of slate-grey tiles and chrome fittings. A similar thing happened with the carpets, which used to reflect the five different color schemes on the ship: now they are oatmeal (but will over the coming months gradually be returned to colors and style reflecting the cabins).
Charmingly, a small decanter of good own-label whisky is set out in each room; such touches are what make this little ship so special. Other touches from a bygone age include: personalized notepaper and a full guest list for each sailing, including where the guest is from. Another lovely touch: four cabins have brass portholes which you can open.
The cabins are serviced three times a day. Room service is available on request, and though no formal menu is offered, anything is possible. However, most passengers prefer to eat in the dining room and only use room service if they're ill.
In case you're wondering, the Queen stayed in the Isle of Berneray, on the same deck as Iona, and almost identical except it has cream and blue decor and a small private balcony looking out from the side of the ship.
It's worth noting that a quirk of the ship is that you cannot lock the doors from the outside -- there is a just a deadlock on the inside.
It's also worth noting that although the ship caters to an elderly demographic, there are no concessions for wheelchair users or passengers with limited mobility: there is no lift, vertiginous staircases and there is a step and a lip to get into every cabin and bathroom.
Next: Hebridean Princess Dining
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