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Transvaal House

Durness, Northern Highlands & Cairngorms National Park (Ref. 2310)



Sykes rating Icon/Rating/Sykes Icon/Rating/Sykes

  • Sleeps 9

  • Bedrooms 4

  • Bathrooms 2

  • Pets Yes

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  • Off road parking
  • Ground floor bedroom
  • Open fire
  • Cot available
  • Highchair available
  • Pub/shop < 1 mile
  • Washing machine
  • Dishwasher
  • Seaside
  • Sky TV

Reviews & Ratings

Accuracy of the listing

26 Customer Reviews

  • "Very good cottage amazing place"

    Reviewed by DavidMar 2022

  • "Enjoyed a 2nd stay here."

    Spacious, comfortable house. Well equipped kitchen. Arrived on a cold November evening to a warm house with every room heated. New sofa in living room and new sofa and chairs in sun lounge. Very reasonable price for this large property. Hope to stay again. Wonderful area.

    Reviewed by KathleenNov 2021

  • "Had a great week and was very relaxing at Transvaal house."

    Reviewed by ColinNov 2021

  • "Very well equipped and warm and comfortable ."

    Not luxurious but met out needs. Great position in Durness Would look forward to returning

    Reviewed by TomSep 2021

  • "This property is perfect for our needs, please never change it."

    A fabulous location, beautiful beaches; perfect for our family group.

    Reviewed by BrianAug 2021

  • "Lovely stay in Durness."

    brilliant location close to a bar and the shops and has the amazing wilds of the Highlands on its doorstep.

    Reviewed by ChrisJul 2021

  • "Dear Sykes, I couldn't find a contact email for complaints as I thought calling this one in would take too long and also includes photos."

    Google Link sent Before I add my review to TripAdvisor, I thought I would like you to review and respond to it. I have also attached photos. Reference: Transvaal House in Durness. On arrival, the exterior of the house looked shabby compared to the photo on the website. It could have done with a fresh coat of paint which I think given the time we have spent in lockdown, might have been done. The keys were under the front door mat which I then tripped over as it was so old it was bent up and also too big for the size of the step, this was the same for the mat at the back door. The house was cold and there was a distinct damp smell. I understand it is an old property but some heating could have been left on. There were a few old air fresheners around but the didnt mask the damp smell. Kitchen We arrived early evening so thought we would cook some pizza and wedges just for a speedy snack. How wrong we were!! Three hours later we managed to cook six pizzas and some wedges and chips. The oven is uselss. Luckily I had taken a large electric pan to cook meals for the rest of the week. We gave up using the oven. The seal at the top of the oven has gone and all the ovenware was rusted or teflon worn off. The kitchen cupboards were showinf signs of dampness (see photos) Black mould and warped shelves. The dishwasher rails were held on by ratchet straps which kept coming off when we pulled the top drawer in and out. (see photo) The crockery is all missed matched, chipped and worn (see photos) The hot tap leaked and the water was scalding. We could not let the kids use any of the water unsupervised. The table could not seat nine people even when extended and the plastic chairs added. All the drawers, pots, pans & utensils needed washed before we used any of them. The under counter fridge and freezer are totally inadequte for a party of nine for a weeks stay. Bathroom There is some sort of stain in the bath as if some chemical has been spilled in it. All the silicon was mouldy and breaking up. The bath mat underside was mouldy. The downstairs shower was unusable as it trickled out of it. Downstairs Bedroom The carpet in the downstairs bedroom was rotting round the edges and smelled really bad (see photos) The mattress protector was stained. The mattress was lumpy and you could feel the springs through it. Curtain Track hanging of the supports. We had to keep the closed with a peg. Bunk Room The children were in the bunk room however it was rather concerning that the double glazed window had a note beside it saying not to touch and was taped up with black masking tape. General Issues. The "garden" was pretty much a field, no grass cut and no outside furniture to use. There was an old rusty bbq dumped there. Dirty windows and doors. All the local info in the drawers are out of date. There were a few jigsaws left with pieces missng (these should not have been in the property if COVID restrictions applied) There was no hand gels on entry There was no Venue QR code for track and trace. The outside light was an old cafitiere wrapped with tape. There were faded notes everywhere of all the DO's and DON'Ts. No appliances had any PAT testing certification on them. Dangerous derelict croft attached to the property (this should all be mentioned when people are taking kids) The whole place is dated and needs total renavation. If it had been myself and my partner, we would not have stayed here but obviously we were not the only guests. The holiday was not ruined by the property as we made the best of what we could. The cooker did make thing extremley difiicult and did change my menu plans. I have never stayed anywhere as bad as this property and felt so sorry for the people coming on the day we left. I am susprised you even have this property on you website. I think a full refund would not be out of the question. However, we did use electricity for the week. Therefore, I think a refund of two thirds of my holiday cost would be acceptable.

    Reviewed by WilliamJun 2021

  • "Too much money charged for the standard of accommodation The lady who held the key to the property was so kind and very helpful and even posted some items back to us that we left behind."

    Lots of mixed feelings about the property, here is the good & the bad. Lots of space and a great location. Well equipped house, but could use soda glasses, lots of whisky & wine glasses but none for juice & soda. Fab washing machine, dishwasher & kitchen pully. Safety issues include a dangerous back step with a large chunk missing on the second down. The top step has an overhanging mat which causes you to misjudge the edge of the step. Therefore the steps out of the kitchen are dangerous. The window in the bunk room is held together with black insulating tape, and is not suitable for kids to be in. sticky tape across the one and off switch for the heater in that room too. Bed pillows under the pillowslips in the triple bed room are full of filthy brown stains and the duvet when you remove the duvet cover was ripped very badly . I washed two of the pillows before I"d let my vulnerable son sleep on them. The carpet in the master upstairs bedroom is really filthy, threadbare, and frankly absolutely DONE. The downstairs bedroom reeks of damp. The plug in air fresheners supplied do nothing to hide it. The carpets really need skipped, they are in very poor shape, and the furniture is not of a good standard you would normally expect from Sykes. It's old cheap & tacky. Old is great if it's timeless and classy, this was not the case. The living room suite does not match and hidden with throws. The mattresses also need completely binned. There are locked doors in the property that you mustn't open. The kitchen is the best room in the house. Good view of the rabbits playing from the window. The heating is awful when it's cold and it didn't work in the triple beded bedroom. There was an odd smell at the top of the stairs that seemed to originate in the bunk room, a sort of bakelite burning maybe. The paint had come off the bottom of the bath in the downstairs bathroom or it had discoloured. For the amount of money charged for the property I feel we were charged far too much. The whole house need redecorating from top to bottom, new beds, furniture, bedding and carpets. The heating system needs modernising too. The house is quaint and full of character, it has so much potential, but despite the cleaners best efforts it's not the fact that's its dated that's the problem, it's that its needs renovating functionally & cosmetically. The bathrooms were clean. The owner has notices stuck up on walls all over the property telling you what you can do and cannot do. One useful thing was an information folder in the kitchen drawer. Lots of cleaning products were provided very useful, my own went back home with me. It's a great area, and if you don't[ mind roughing it for a week, then the property may be okay for you. In my honest opinion, it was very over priced & below standard for what was charged.

    Reviewed by KarenJun 2021

  • "This house was very dirty and tatty."

    We had to hunt for towels for 6 of us and all towels and bedding was old and discoloured. The drawers in the kitchen were very dirty and the place doesnt look like it has been renovated since it was built. All of the furniture was very dated and tired and the facilities for showering were very limited. I have stayed in Sykes cottages before so jumped at the chance when this came up on Booking.com but it is not the standard I expected. We stayed in various places around the NC500 trip and paid on average £255-£285 for 3 rooms for 5 people throughout. This house @ £575 was the most expensive and most uncomfortable of our trip. I have sent a message of complaint via the booking.com and have yet to receive a response. I would like a refund of at least £250 and suggest you remove this property from your books. Please take this as official complaint as I really wouldnt want other people to expect the standard of Sykes only to get tatty old furniture and bedding/towels.

    Reviewed by PaulaSep 2020

  • "Beautiful area and lovely spacious house."

    It’s just a few minutes from such a lovely beach. Lots of parking and really responsive and helpful owners. It’s a lovely old house that has not been modernised and old sofas were covered with throws, which was fine with us but it wouldn’t suit everyone. But we loved it’s traditional relaxed feel - ideal for a walking holiday with a dog!

    Reviewed by JudeSep 2020

  • "We really appreciated that you were willing to check the heating for us ( after a bad experience elsewhere)"

    Reviewed by HelenFeb 2020

  • "Everything about Transvaal House and the ease of using sykes cottages was astronomical."

    From booking with a low deposit and able to pay as and when we wanted to and than having to change the booking last minute to include our friends daughter who ended up joining us- the service from every member of staff was easy and trouble free. The cottage itself is more than you will ever believe looking at the pictures. You want for nothing when you are there, every item you could possibly require in a kitchen is there (and plentiful). The wood burner and fire brought a lovely cosiness on an evening and ensured clothes dried quickly as the weather was a bit iffy to begin with. It was a fantastic base to explore and away from everything commercialised and even the kids (4 of them 9 and under) enjoyed even the simplest things like a walk down to the beach and a treat of cocoa mountain hot chocolate (ABSOLUTE MUST). We are already planning our next trip to Transvaal and cannot wait to return. Thank you for sharing your cottage with us!!

    Reviewed by VictoriaOct 2019

  • "We stayed in Transvaal House some years ago; it has improved marginally since then."

    The general cleanliness is better but someone needs to go over the kitchen facilities with an eye to removing old/worn/out of date utensils, particularly frying/saucepans. The cooker hob and surfaces have a film of grease over them. It is highly unlikely that we would stay in Transvaal House again.

    Reviewed by JeanetteAug 2019

  • "Die Gegend um Durness ist wunderschön, auch sehr empfehlenswert zum wandern und Golf spielen."

    Leider hat uns das Haus nicht sehr zugesagt. Die Sauberkeit war nicht in Ordnung: in den Küchenschränken war es schmutzig und zum Teil auch das Geschirr, man hat sich nicht wohl gefühlt. Die Sofas waren auch sehr durch gesessen und überall die Decken und Teppiche, die sehr eklig waren. Hier herrscht einfach Renovierungsbedarf.

    Reviewed by JensJun 2019

  • "Accommodation needs refurbished."

    This I could live with but the place needs a good clean and the bedding is old and overused. This is the worst cottage we have ever stayed in.

    Reviewed by GeorgeJun 2019

  • "I have stayed at Transvaal several times in the past."

    The location is right, the price is right and if your expectations are not permanently set at 5* this is absolutely ideal. I am a photographer and mostly travel to Durness to capture the aurora. This past week, the aurora was visible 5 out of 7 days and ALL from the back garden about 10 strides to the kitchen. Perfect. I don't like posting negative comments so I will refer to the next couple of points as "suggestions". Kitchen could do with a microwave. There used to be one but had to boil water in a pan to heat up milk for the young one. Could do with replacing tap washers in both upstairs and downstairs to cure the constant leak. Kitchen door lock needs a squirt of WD40 as the key was extremely difficult to use and the two lounge chairs have passed their sell by date. If that is the only downside I can type then it shows it must be good and it is. On the positive side which I do like to write about, the location is spot on, ample parking for even 5 cars if needed. Electricity costs are now included (they used to be separate), rooms are comfy and lots of bedding/towels included. Kitchen has enough cutlery to cater for at least 3 full coaches, ample storage for cold/frozen items (so stock your car prior to arriving). I have already mentioned the garden but you can walk through the gate (closing behind due to the sheep) and then walk for a good mile and a bit towards the coast across the field. We did this to capture aurora photographs and there was zero light pollution from behind. There is also storage heating which takes the edge off the bitter winds that they get in Durness, I would suggest closing all doors to retain the heat. There are a few radiators provided if it gets really cold - but with doors closed, we found the storage heaters alone were sufficient. No, Transvaal does not have WiFi but sometimes you need to step away from technology and actually enjoy a holiday. Cocoa Mountain opens at 11am and has free WiFi and is literally a 5 minute walk away. That said, I did find very good coverage on O2 including intermittent 4G. Durness itself is a small but wonderful community. Everyone knows each other and we found (as outsiders) the whole village to be very friendly. The local Spar is well stocked and "John" is a font of all knowledge for the area and a super chap. Going outside of season (as we did) most of the cafe's are still shut (early March). Cocoa Mountain while good for coffee/chocolate/sweet stuff, has nothing savoury and if you fancy a soup and a sandwich you are really stuck for choice. Two places immediately come to mind. Smoo Caves hotel (Durness) and The Old School House in Kinlochbervie. The latter you have to drive about 10 miles to but it is worth it. The Smoo Caves hotel is in a single word .... exceptional. I wrote a review on Trip Advisor and it is not just a locals pub, you are made to feel very welcome and definitely included in conversation. The food here is mostly (if not all) home cooked and the staff are brilliant. Worth also taking the walk down to Smoo Caves, it is a large and perfectly safe cave with a waterfall inside which make for some stunning photos (take a tripod if you have one). If you are lucky, you will meet "Caveman Colin" who is an exceptional guide and can take you "safely" to further parts of the cave complex. In the opposite direction, you have Balnakiel village which is the home of Cocoa Mountain. The factory is in the process of moving (but still open). I was very pleased to see more craft shops preparing to open in this little complex and I would suspect by the end of May this little complex will be thriving. Well worth a visit. Finally, moving on past this little area will take you onwards to Balnakiel beach. To be perfectly honest, this is one of my favourite beaches ever. To find a beach with no litter that by night has stunning aurora's reflection off the wet sands, it is definitely a beach (under the right conditions) to take your breath away. Only downside for us is that this whole experience is a 530 mile each way trip that takes about 11 hours. Was it worth it .... you bet it was. Perhaps next time we will stay for a couple of weeks. Steve B

    Reviewed by StephenMar 2019

  • "Easy booking and lots of information provided."

    Reviewed by KatieDec 2018

  • "The house was clean and lacked for nothing."

    Although it was quite cold outside (We went at the end of Otober) it was lovely and warm as we walked in as plug in radiators had been left on for our arrival. The area is stunningly lovely with two exceptionally clean beaches nearby. The local Spar shop stocks many things albeit a little expensive but given the remoteness and costs no doubt incurred in getting goods here the prices were no surprise and expected if I'm honest. If you appreciate quiet and are quite happy to just have a place to unwind then this may well be the place for you, if you want more from a holiday area then look for a bigger town, we loved Durness and Transvaal house it was perfect for us wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

    Reviewed by KarenOct 2018

  • "It was our third visit to the property; we could happily live there!"

    Reviewed by BrianAug 2018

  • "Was in good location and worked well as a base but could do with a good clean inside and out (windows and door frames especially)."

    Hob was not working properly - only two small rings worked properly which made cooking extremely tricky when cooking for 6 - oven clean but took a while to heat up and washing machine would not complete cycles correctly. Mattress in downstairs bedroom could do with being replaced as if sagged towards middle.

    Reviewed by DonaldJul 2018

  • "Transvaal house was the ideal place for our Northern holiday."

    There was everything we needed in the house and the stove and open fire were welcome in the evening. Bed was comfortable and there was loads of hot water - although the shower was a wee bit tight. Unfortunately the garden was not dog proof for our Westie, but a larger dog would be safe and secure. Would recommend the house and hope to visit again.

    Reviewed by EuniceApr 2018

  • "This is the forth time staying at this property, it's fairly basic but at the cost for the week in March this is fine, great base to explore the North of Scotland."

    Reviewed by MarkMar 2018

  • "The house was perfect."

    Very homely, lovely views.. Well equipped. We went in a group of 9 friends and the house was big enough to not be under each others feet. The kitchen with log burner was great for getting together to eat and chat. We had a fantastic time, spotted lots of wildlife that we don't see at home. Transvaal was a lucky find and I'm sure we will be back. It's the perfect Base to explore the stunning area.

    Reviewed by JulieNov 2017

  • "All was great and our group fitted in well to the accommodation."

    Reviewed by LynneSep 2017

  • "Been here a couple of times and whilst the property could benefit from a bit of upgrade it works and was exactly what we wanted."

    Peaceful, stunning and relaxing and time to reflect.

    Reviewed by StuartJun 2017

  • "Durness is outstandingle breath taking views from kitchen amazing ,beaches take your breath away ."

    Good walks around the area and an abundance of wild life to watch

    Reviewed by JacquiAug 2016

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  • Four bedrooms: 1 x ground floor double, 1 x double, 1 x family room with 3 single beds, 1 x adult bunks
  • Ground floor bathroom with bath, shower over, basin and WC
  • First floor shower room with shower, basin and WC
  • Large fitted kitchen with dining area and multi-fuel stove
  • Sitting room with open fire
  • Additional sitting area in extended entrance porch.
  • Electric storage heaters with multi-fuel stove in kitchen/dining area and open fire in sitting room
  • Electric oven and hob, microwave, fridge/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, satellite TV with basic package, radio, small selection of books/games
  • Electricity inc. in rent
  • Bed linen inc. in rent
  • Cot and highchair available
  • Off road parking for 4 cars
  • Lawned area
  • One well-behaved dog welcome
  • Sorry, no smoking
  • Shop and pub 10 mins walk
  • Note: Fuel is not provided for stove and open fire but is available to purchase locally, or can be pre-ordered from the shop before arrival.

The property

Durness 0.5 miles.

A large, detached, stone-built house situated on the outskirts of the ancient crofting village of Durness, which is scattered along a rugged coastline with rocky inlets, coves and beaches.

The property is well maintained and offers simple, yet comfortable accommodation, with wonderful sea views, a cosy sitting room with open fire and four bedrooms.

Transvaal House was built in approximately 1890, in a South African style, by a notable architect who designed various structures in South Africa.

Upon his retirement he returned to his home town of Durness and built this property.

The village of Durness offers a grocer's shop and a small shop with Post Office, while the area is perfect for walking, cycling, wildlife spotting and trout and salmon fishing, as well as golf at the local course.

Ideal for exploring the solitude of the Highlands, Transvaal House makes a good base for a relaxing holiday.

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About the location


Lairg 56 miles; Thurso 75 miles.

The most North Westerly village in mainland Scotland, the ancient village of Durness, unspoilt by modern convention, offers a truly peaceful location amidst awe inspiring landscape. The village is steeped in history and boasts evidence of an 8th Century Christian settlement, cave dwellings and Viking invasions. The surrounding coastline is fringed with spectacular beaches of silver sand, soaring cliffs and deep caves. It is a splendid location from which to explore the solitude of the Highlands whilst watching the varied wildlife, or enjoying a spot of golf on Britain's most northerly golf course. Vist Smoo Cave, a large sea cave with a tiny river running through, and the large colony of puffins at nearby Faraid Head, offering a superb opportunity for wildlife photography. The local Craft Village, situated on a rather picturesque old RAF radar base, affords visitors the opportunity to purchase local giftware and art, produced by this sustainable, hospitable community. A vast area of outstanding natural beauty, Durness makes an ideal base for touring the rest of the Highlands.

Book with confidence
If your booking can't take place due to a COVID-19 lockdown in the UK or Ireland, you can request a change of date or receive a full rental charges refund.

Owners may request any evidence that they reasonably require before making a refund. Sykes Holiday Cottages is not agreeing to pay or guarantee any refund from the Owner to you under this Book with confidence.
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