Stornoway is the town on Lewis.
With a population of around 5,600, Stornoway ( Steòrnabhagh ) is the largest town in the Outer Hebrides and also its administrative centre. Almost 30% of the total population of the Western Isles, some 8,000 people, live within Stornoway or the immediately vicinity encompassing Laxdale (Lacasdal) and Sandwick (Sanndabhaig).
The church has a significant influence on Stornoway life. Almost everything is closed on Sunday, but things have eased in recent years: there are now flights and ferries on Sundays, a petrol station and a few bars and restaurants are now open.
- Stornoway Airport (IATA: SYY) has flights connecting the town with Aberdeen, Benbecula, Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow. The airport is located about 3km from the town near the village of Melbost.
Ferry service to Ullapool on the mainland - a journey of 2 hours 40 minutes. The Ferry Service operates 7 days a week (Mon - Sun, with a restricted service on Sundays). The commencement of a regular, scheduled Sunday service in July 2009 has been a matter of enormous controversy on and around the islands as it runs against the islands' Sabbatarian tradition.
There are bus services available to almost all areas of Lewis from Stornoway. See the Council travel site for information on timetables and routes. Note that there are no Sunday services and evening services are very limited.
There are no national car hire companies on the islands. There are a number of small local operators, see theCar hire section of Outer Hebrides article for details.
Taxi companies are listed on the Stornoway airport website.
- An Lanntair Art Centre, Kenneth Street, HS1 2DS, ☎ +44 1851 703307. New arts centre offering exhibitions, concerts and films.
- Lews Castle. A building which for many years was sadly neglected, set in fine grounds which are open as a park. The castle was built in the 1850s for Sir James Matheson who made his fortune in the far eastern opium trade. Museum nan Eilean will open in the castle in Autumn 2015.
Visit Stornoway in July around the Hebridean Celtic Festival and you will find the place transformed. This annual event attracts over 16,000 over its four day run and is a focus for friends and extended family to visit each summer. More information on the event from http://www.hebceltfest.com
Stornoway is the only place in the Outer Hebrides where you will find a selection of shops like in a mainland town. There are both multiples and several independent stores including bakers, a bookshop and an ironmongers. The local delicacy is Stornoway Black Pudding, a blood and oatmeal savoury sausage product.
A dwindling fishing fleet provides fresh fish and shellfish which can be bought fresh from the local fish shops. A good, traditional smokery cures the local fish (Stornoway Fish Smokers, Shell Street, Stornoway HS1 2BS, Tel +44 1851 702723).
All shops are closed on Sunday except for Engebret's petrol station.
- Co-op, 8 MacAulay Road, HS1 2HU. Mon-Sat 8:00 - 22:00. The largest supermarket in the Outer Hebrides. Also a smaller store in the centre of town in Cromwell Street.
- Tesco, Ferry Road, HS1 2QY. Mon-Fri 6:00 - 00:00, Sat 6:00 - 22:00. Tesco
- Engebret Filling station, Sandwick Road, HS1 2SL, ☎ +44 1851 702303. Mon - Sat: 6am - 11pm, Sun: 10am - 4pm. Filling Station & Convenience Store
Most places to eat in Stornoway serve until 9pm with the exception of the Stornoway Balti House which serves until after 10pm. Scanned takeaway menus from a selection of the locals takeaways
- Crown Hotel, Castle St, HS1 2BD (Point St entrance), ☎ +44 1851 703734.
- Digby Chick, 5 Bank Street, HS1 2XG, ☎ +44 1851 700026.
- Fusion ( open Sunday, Chinese Malaysian takeaway ), Manor roundabout +44 1851 706373
- Peking Cuisine ( open Sunday, Chinese take away ), 30 Church St, HS1 2JD, +44 1851 705548
- Stornoway Balti House ( open Sunday, sit in and takeaway ), 24 South Beach, HS1 2BJ, +44 1851 706116
- The Thai Cafe, ( sit in and takeaway ) 14 Francis Street, HS1 2NA, +44 1851 701811
- Woodlands Centre ( 10am-5pm ), Castle grounds, +44 1851 706916
- HS-1 Restaurant(Gay Friendly) (12-4pm, 5pm-9pm), Stornoway HS1 2DG +44 1851 702109
Stornoway has a high density of pubs which reflect the absence of them around the rest of the island. Around half of them open on Sunday and the licensing hours are generally till 11pm on week nights and up until 1:45am on Fridays and 1am on Saturdays.
The Carlton Lounge ( formerly known as the Whalers Rest ) usually offers 2 cask ales, the only bar in Lewis to do so.
The Jâger Room is the only purpose built music venue in the Western Isles and serves cocktails as well as draft beers.
There is a local brewery in Stornoway, the Hebridean Brewing Company which offers 3 different types of bottled ale which can be found in some of the bars around Stornoway. There is one local whisky Abhainn Dearg, which released its first whisky in October 2011.
- The Star Inn ( open Sunday, live music every Thursday ), 13 South Beach
- Era Nightclub (DJs every Friday and Saturday), 13 South Beach
- The Jäger Room (live music every Friday and Saturday), 13 South Beach (NOT CURRENTLY OPEN)
- The Carlton Lounge ( open Sunday, serves food ), Francis Street, HS1 2ND
- MacNeills ( live music 10pm Thursdays ), Cromwell Street
- The Criterion, Point Street
- The Lewis ( open Sunday ), Castle Street
- The Crown Inn (Open Monday - Saturday)It has a public bar, and offers a restaurant upstairs.
Advance booking is strongly recommended, especially for June/July/August. There are no national chain hotels in Stornoway. Arriving without an accommodation booking during Celtic Festival week (check website for dates) is highly inadvisable. Wild camping is mostly safe and permissible.
- Laxdale Holiday Park. Located on the outskirts of Stornoway, has pitches for tents and caravans, and caravans and bunkhouse for hire.
- Heb Hostel, 25 Kenneth Street, ☎ +44 1851 709889.
- Fair Haven Hostel, 28 Francis Street, HS1 2ND, ☎ +44 1851 705862.
Bed and Breakfasts
If possible, always choose somewhere that is assessed and graded by Visit Scotland for Quality - there is a good listing on the Visit Hebrides website . There are other places to stay in and around Stornoway, but they are not members of the Visit Scotland Quality scheme for a reason. Don't be seduced by the blurb on a fancy website! The best choices are:
- Newly opened, the finest place to stay in the Hebrides is just 10 minutes (by car) to the north of Stornoway - Broad Bay House is the islands first 5* serviced accommodation, and has a superb beach side location and Eat Scotland award winning dining.
- One of the most popular but not the cheapest is 4 star Braighe House just on the outskirts of Stornoway and within minutes of the airport.
- Close to the Western Isles Hospital and golf course is Jannel B&B, 4 star VisitScotland .
- Reidhbhat Cottage. Hebridean Self Catering Cottage located in Newvalley on the edge of Stornoway ( approx 2 miles from the centre )
The Caladh Inn, Royal Hotel and Cabarfeidh Hotel are all run by the local Cala Hotels chain.
- Caladh Inn, James Street, HS1 2QN, ☎ +44 1851 702740. Handy for the ferry and the bus station.
- Royal Hotel, Cromwell St, HS1 2DG, ☎ +44 1851 702109.
- Cabarfeidh Hotel, Manor Park, HS1 2EU, ☎ +44 1851 702604. The furthest from the ferry.
- The County Hotel, 12-14 Francis Street, HS1 2XB, ☎ +44 1851 703250. The most central of all the hotels.
- Caledonian Hotel, 6 South Beach, HS1 2XY, ☎ +44 1851 702411.
Stornoway has plenty to see and do for the visitor on foot, but travels further afield require bus or car transport. There are no railway lines on the island.
The Callanish Stones are located around 30 minutes' drive from Stornoway and are the island's most popular outdoor tourist attraction.