Groups & Retreats

The St. Columba Hotel is perfect for…

Groups and Retreats

Whether you are organising a group visit or you are an individual wishing to participate in a retreat, the St Columba Hotel’s tranquil setting offers the perfect base for peaceful contemplation.

Adjacent to the world famous Iona Abbey and only a short walk from the island’s idyllic white sandy beaches, we have been hosting spiritual and religious groups for many years.


We can offer accommodation for up to 48 and have special group tariffs include dinner, bed & breakfast and lunches, if required.

For larger groups, exclusive use of our sun lounge area can be negotiated. This light and airy space offers incredible panoramic views over the Sound of Iona towards the mountains of Mull. Smaller groups may wish to make use of our cosy fireside lounge.

We can also assist with booking your group a guided walk around the island or a boat trip to the neighbouring isle of Staffa to visit the world famous Fingal’s Cave.

Reduced tariffs for early or late season bookings are available.


  • We host a number of specially organised retreats which individuals may book a place on directly with us:
  • Iona Pilgrimages with John Philip Newell, the celebrated author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality
  • Seasonal Encounters programme, run in conjunction with the Iona Community, featuring leaders such as John Bell, Alister Mackintosh and Mark Burrows
  • Coming Home retreat with Professor Stephen Wright

More info on Iona Pilgrimage Weeks with John Philip Newell

Each day begins and ends with prayer and meditation, either at the Abbey or elsewhere together on the island. In the mornings John Philip teaches on themes related to Celtic Spirituality and the sacredness of the Earth. The afternoons are then given to hiking, conversation, and rest. In the early evenings, before our shared meal, we gather again in the 11th-century Chapel of St Oran for chanting and simple rituals of healing and awareness. On a number of evenings there is the option of joining the Iona Community for night prayer at the Abbey. Half way through the week we walk the seven-mile island pilgrimage route together, reflecting on the journey of our lives and world, and pray for peace. The Columba Hotel’s organic gardens, eco-friendly policies, and welcoming staff are an important part of our community life together.

John Philip Newell is one of the most prominent Christian teachers of spirituality in the Western world. Formerly Warden of Iona Abbey he now divides his time between Edinburgh, where he does most of his writing, and travelling and teaching internationally. In 2016 he established the School of Celtic Consciousness in his belief that Celtic wisdom is needed at this moment in time, urgently. It is a spiritual tradition in the Christian household that can nurture vision of mind, strength of soul, and compassion of action. John Philip Newell is an ordained Church of Scotland minister with a passion for peace among the great wisdom traditions of humanity. In 2011 he received the first-ever Contemplative Voices Award from the Shalem Institute in Washington DC in recognition of his work in the field of spirituality and peacemaking. His PhD is from the University of Edinburgh and he has authored over 15 books, including his most recent visionary title The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings. For more information see

The dates for the upcoming pilgrimages with John Philip Newell are:-


14th September – 21st September


25th April – 2nd May
13th June – 20th June
20th June – 27th June
12th September – 19th September


More info on Seasonal Encounters with the Iona Community

18th-23rd October 2019

Ripening in Wisdom: Elder Poets as Sages for the Harvest of Life

Mark Burrows, Protestant University of Applied Sciences, Bochum

This retreat invites us to the “late poems” of selected contemporary poets, gifts of wisdom that with a depth and poignance that comes with the harvest years. Poets to be explored include Mary Oliver, W. S. Merwin, Denise Levertov, Stanley Kunitz, among others. Mark S. Burrows is well-known and much in demand as a retreat leader in Europe, Australia, and the United States. A practicing poet and scholar of historical theology, with a keen interest in mysticism and poetics, he is an award-winning translator of modern German literature. A longtime resident of New England, he currently lives between Bochum, Germany, where he teaches theology and literature at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences, and Camden, Maine.


23rd – 28th October 2019

Kicking Leaves and Kindling Fires

Jo Love, Wild Goose Resource Group

Catch some falling playfulness in poetry and pilgrimage. Coax some sparks in creative sessions exploring scriptural and seasonal stories. Relish some spacious days, opting in and out of an autumnal array of meaning making activities.

Jo is an ordained Deacon of the Church of Scotland and a Member of the Iona Community. She worked for several years in urban parishes, with much involvement in youth and children’s work, faith exploration and enabling creativity in worship.


28th Oct – 2nd November 2019

Lighting the Dark, Darkening the Light: Exploring the Shadows of Art and Faith

Debbie Lewer, University of Glasgow

At the darkening time of the year, as the clocks go back and nights lengthen, join us to explore the play of light and shade in art and in faith.

Debbie Lewer is an art historian, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow and a regular speaker in churches, theological colleges and at festivals and retreats on the rich relationship between art and faith. She is passionate about making art history accessible to all.