First of all, let me tell you that we are neither keen walkers nor keen bird watchers, but we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Island and seeing the birds. It is possible to walk all round the Island in a coiple of hours. I did not realise the Fair Isle is a world famous site for birds. The Island is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, and when you visit, you can see why: it's a real gem. The tourist brochures, leaflets and websites do not do it justice.
The Bird Observatory and Lodge is not a luxury hotel, but it is a five star experience. The staff pick you up from the airport or ferry and transport you to the Lodge, which is ideally situated with fabulous views over the harbour and cliffs. Lounge, dining room and bedrooms all have fantastic views. The rooms are spotlessly clean and furnished with modern furniture. All have ensuite facilities with a good shower and complimentary shower gel/shampoo soap and body lotion. There are also bathrooms available if you prefer a bath. These have hairdriers fitted.
Mealtimes are informal. You line up and are served your food canteen style, and everyone (including the staff) sits at one long table. There is no choice of dishes, but they will cater for special diets (diabetic, gluten free, etc). The seating arrangements allow you to chat with other guests, discuss your day, and pick up tips for walks, etc. the food is good home cooking. As well as breakfast, lunch and dinner, home made cakes are served mid morning and suppertime. And all this for £60 per day! Tea and coffee are available on a self service basis, with an "honesty box". A similar system is used for snacks ( chocolate biscuits, crisps, etc). There is a well stocked bar, which is very reasonably priced.
The resident Rangers will invite you to join them on various bird- related activities. We saw him ringing a bird that had been caught in one of the traps, and were invited to watch them catch and ring storm petrels.
There is no need for a fitness centre, the walks can be tailored to your personal fitness level!
I can't praise the staff highly enough. This is the best weekend away I have had for ages , and I have been to Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris, Milan and Barcelona!
If you can make it, come to Shetland and visit Fair Isle.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Observatory Guest House provides a great base for exploring the stunning coastal scenery and fascinating history of Fair Isle, with comfortable en-suite full-board accommodation and wonderful views from the lounge-bar out over the sea to Fair Isle's iconic Sheep Rock. As part of Fair Isle Bird Observatory the Guest House also provides visitors with unique opportunities to see bird ringing with the wardens, learn about the wildlife of the isle and perhaps find a rare bird or two passing through on migration. ... more less