Where you rest your head for the night speaks volumes about a destination. It gives you a flavour of the culture and insider knowledge about the local idiosyncrasies. With over 70 beautiful islands, a strong arty presence and some of the best-preserved Neolithic sites out there, Orkney is overflowing with hidden gems. Check out our round-up of the best hotels and places to stay in Scotland’s Orkney Isles.
Found on the breathtaking island of South Ronaldsay and spread across six hectares of ecological and organic land, Wheems Organic Farm ticks every box. Between the eco-campsite and glamping units, charming country cottage, idyllic yurt, VW camper van and bell tents, there really is something for everyone. The Loft, a newly renovated rustic love nest with outstanding views, is the kind of place you want to move into! Importantly, this Orcadian paradise is wholly committed to true green living, reducing the carbon footprint and preventing overconsumption and wastage. This ethical mindset extends across all spaces, from the sensitive landscaping and conservation areas to the artfully upcycled furniture, locally sourced futons and home-grown produce. Pure bliss!
Between its lochside location and penchant for Orkney cuisine done right, the aptly named Standing Stones Hotel is a sound option. With two lounges and varied bar menu, the food is forever on point, which owes credit to the finest seasonal ingredients. The rooms are simple, clean and comfortable, and each hosts an en-suite. The best part is breakfast overlooking Stenness Loch and the open hearth fire. Once more, the hotel is but a stone’s throw from Maeshowe, Stenness Standing Stones and the Ring of Brodgar, all world-famous sites that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.
The Orkney Hotel blends history and hospitality like no other. This 17th-century hotel dates back to 1670 when it was built as the family home of a local merchant. Today, it retains much of its historical flavour, with tasteful renovations only adding to the charm. Just minutes from St Magnus Cathedral, local shops and Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, there are 30 elegant rooms, some of which play host to grand four-poster beds. The Garden View Restaurant offers a compelling menu of daily harvested seafood, native beef and lamb as well as innovative vegetarian dishes.
The Albert Hotel is a perfect pick for those looking for a smaller place to stay. The intimate atmosphere and contemporary boutique-style rooms make for a relaxed trip. Centrally located in Kirkwall, the hotel is within easy walking distance of the ferries to the outer North Isles, St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces. Local produce reigns supreme on the restaurant menu, which caters to all palates with light bites and three-course meals. Perhaps the best part is the authentic traditional Orkney bar complete with local booze galore, a cosy fire and home-cooked meals.
Aviedale Bed and Breakfast is an absolute joy. Situated on the west Mainland close to the towns of Stromness and Kirkwall, this unique private guest accommodation features a king-size bedroom, dining kitchenette and luxury shower room. Totally private, this compact guest house was built into a new annexe and hosts a private carpark entrance, three acres of striking landscaped property and outstanding seascape views. Between the continental breakfast (complete with fresh orange juice), free unlimited WIFI and sleek furnishings, Aviedale has all the comforts of a charming contemporary hotel but with an added dose of privacy.
Described as a home away from home, St Ola in Kirkwall is as friendly as it is lively. And by lively, we are, of course, referring to its two smashing wee bars! The recently refurbished rooms hit the spot and range from single and double to superior double and twin, leaving room for larger groups or families. The harbour-side and outer isle views from the superior rooms are out of this world. Those ready for a real party should look no further, as St Ola is wonderfully placed near the weekend pub-hop hustle and bustle of Kirkwall. It’s fuss-free and authentic.
The Shore Hotel in Kirkwall is one of Orkney’s most popular places to stay, and with unrivalled hospitality as its secret, this comes as no surprise. Spotless contemporary rooms available in an array of sizes, elegant dining and a full breakfast destined to make your day are always a given. The harbour-side location on Shore St is an added bonus and conveniently close to all the fun. For the Culture Trippers forever on the go, there is even an option of a packed lunch! No expenses spared.