Islanders delighted in their droves to have a look around the new luxury accommodation at Lews Castle as operators Natural Retreats held an Open day on Friday, April 28th.

A number of activities and displays took place throughout the day – which also offered the opportunity for island residents to explore the new look Castle with a selection bedrooms and suites open for viewing.

“It's been a really good day and very, very busy,” said Emma Beagrie, Marketing Manager, Natural Retreats.  “We knew there would be a lot of interest and it's been great to see people looking for their old classrooms and dorm rooms.

“It was very important to us to hold the Open Day,” she added. “We have always been aware that the Castle is a place of personal interest to many people and it was very important to us that the local community had the opportunity to have a look around and see what we have done.”

Wider audiences also recently had a chance to glimpse inside Lews Castle, when the iconic Stornoway building made it through to the final for the Great British Buildings Restoration of the Year competition, organised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and featured on Channel 4.

With stiff competition, Lews Castle was named joint winner of the Victorian category, alongside Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland.

The refurbished Castle accommodation offers clean, fresh, crisp rooms, designed in harmony with both the Castle's original features and stunning setting.

A total of 23 bedrooms are available in a flexible configuration of individual suites and apartments, each named after an iconic Hebridean or Scottish cultural reference – and on view during the Open Day were 'Matheson', 'Shoeburn North' and 'Portrona'.

Each displays a blend of the classic and contemporary, with designs staying true to the building's Victorian origins but also including the modern touches that travellers expect, such as free Wi-Fi, flat screen televisions, luxury toiletries and high quality linen and towels.

And guests can expect a complimentary welcome hamper, filled with local Hebridean essentials, to ensure their first night (and morning) at the Castle are as restful as possible.

The Natural Retreats design team also worked with local businesses to incorporate their products into the overall design – an elements of Harris Tweed are visible throughout the luxury accommodation.

Margaret Ann Macleod, Brand Director from Harris Tweed Hebrides, commented: “We were truly delighted to be involved in the restoration of Lews Castle. It is such a prestigious project not only for the Isle of Lewis, but also for Scotland.

“Natural Retreats made a real effort to understand the significance of the Harris Tweed industry to the local economy and of course its role throughout the history of the islands.”

She continued: “A number of my colleagues went to school at Lews Castle and they all have fond memories of that time – it shows the connection that local people have to the Castle.

“Over the last year we have worked closely with Natural Retreats and the interior designers at NoChintz to design and supply the Harris Tweed fabric used in the rooms at Lews Castle – on headboards, sofas, chairs and throw cushions – to achieve a Hebridean look with a truly modern twist.

“We are thrilled to see our upholstery weight Harris Tweed used in the rooms and hope that visitors to Lews Castle will be inspired to find out more about the Tweed and its rich history.”

For further information about Natural Retreats accommodation at Lews Castle, visit www.naturalretreats.com