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“At the north of the Country”

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North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
47 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“At the north of the Country”
Reviewed May 1, 2013

A lovely experience in a modern Bird Observatory
Comfortable rooms and lovely home cooked food
The staff were charming and we were able to see a bird being ringed and went on a walk with one of the wardens
Weather poor but the conservatory was pleasant place to sit and read or just watch the weather and the birds!
A peaceful place

Room Tip: All rooms are very compact and well furnished
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Anne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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37 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Dallas, Texas
Level 5 Contributor
75 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed October 23, 2012

We visited North Ronaldsay in early October, spending one night at the N.R. Bird Observatory. The flight over from Kirkwall was exhilarating and a bit terrifying, but the peacefulness of the island and the gentleness of the inhabitants made it well worth the effort. We rented a car on the island and drove to the N.R.B.O. which is on the southwest part of the island. We were warmly greeted and shown our rooms on the 2nd floor of the main building (not the hostel) and were invited to choose our dinner selection (mutton!) and served a warming coffee in the main lounge.

The rooms were small but tidy and clean and very comfortable. My room had a very welcome electric heater which I turned on to warm the room. The bathroom was very good, with a shower with good flow and hot water. I had a writing desk, a wardrobe, and nice window looking out over the farmland next to the observatory. Both of us were pleased with our rooms and with the welcome and friendliness of the two young people running the reception desk and cooking dinner.

We had a quick walk on the beach - marveling at the seaweed eating sheep and the peacefulness of Nouster Bay. Dinner was served around 6:30 p.m. in the lounge and we were seated with the rest of the guests at a large communal table. The slight uneasiness was quickly dispensed with as we introduced ourselves around the table. There's nothing quite like good food and drink (mutton, freshly steamed veggies, sticky toffee pudding and Dark Island beer) to loosen lips and engender a real feeling of community and friendliness.

We had a great evening of conversation and beer and whisky from the excellent bar and stayed up well past midnight enjoying the moment and our new friends. The morning came a bit too quickly, but the bed and room were warm and comfortable. Breakfast was very good and we continued our conversation with our new friends and met Alison.

The N.R.B.O. is very well run and gives excellent value for the rooms in the main building (we didn't have any experience with the hostel). The meals were excellent, the drink plentiful, and the friendliness and craic in abundance. The island is a lovely and interesting place to visit (whether or not you're into bird watching) and the trip over from Kirkwall will be a memory you'll not soon forget! Highly recommended for a unique vacation getaway!

We enjoyed walking the beach to the Broch of Burrian, watching the seal colonies and the varied texture of stone dykes and beach pebbles. The light of North Ronaldsay is amazing and allows for stupendous views and great photography. The two lighthouses are well worth visiting as well as is the museum and the cafe in the New Lighthouse.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Carl_Pritchett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Holystone, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed September 24, 2012

My wife and I stayed at the Observatory as part of a 'birding' holiday run by Heatherlea. From the moment we walked out of the airport the gentle and professional welcome began. North Ronaldsay is not a general tourist destination - it isn't particularly attractive unless you are a 'birder'. It does have some small fascinations like the seaweed eating sheep - which give rise to fascinating mutton! The Observatory is the centre of the study of birds and their comings and goings on/off the island.
The accommodation is really an aside to the bird related activity but is run as professionally as one could hope for in very good mainland hotels - never mind on an island - a very small island. The food is excellent and although the dinner is essentially one centred on a set main course the staff were amazingly helpful to anyone with any specific dietary requirements. The rooms are clean, very adequately furnished, and the bed very comfortable.
Our experience bore no commonality with one of the recent reviewers - in fact we can't believe we stayed at the same place as that reviewer - to such an extent that we wonder what the motivation of that reviewer was. Our experience at the communal meal table was convivial. There was plenty of food and extra was provided when anything ran out. There was NO evidence of staff abusing the control or consumption of food.
The post evening meal wrap up of the bird activity on the island was interesting and encouraged active input from visitors.
We felt privileged to have stayed there and hope to return soon - either with Heatherlea or under our own steam - or maybe both - at different times!!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank BamboosNorthShields
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed August 16, 2012

My partner and I stay on North Ronaldsay every year in other accommodation but we always have a couple of lunches at the bird ob. it 's a custom of ours.
Alison and her staff are very good hosts, the mutton is highly recommended, the best, and washed down with Dark Island beer, finished off with sticky toffee pudding.
Roll on our next visit.
Graham/ Pat

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank bakermorgan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloucester, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed June 13, 2012

We booked into the Bird Observatory on the recommendation of the airline after we had found out that we couldn't get there and back within one day. When booking we were asked what we liked to eat and we were offered a lift from the airport. On arrival, staff couldn't be more friendly and we were served tea, rooms very comfy and clean. Evening meal was really nice - the puddings were exceptionally yummy. We sampled the extensive whisky menu in the lounge and then retired. Breakfast was fantastic - nothing was too much trouble. Kitchen and housekeeping was ably run by a lovely lady and all other staff on the bird observatory pitched in to cater for our every need. Staff very happy to arrange contacts with other services on the island including bike hire and the lighthouse tour. Bird Observatory is a mile from the airport and is on a bay with resident seal colonies so is very convenient. Very reasonably priced accommodation and we enjoyed every minute of it. Can't recommend this place highly enough - a lovely part of out honeymoon

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Abigail R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rugby, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2011

What a waste of time and money. Evening meal is very much sit here dont talk and watch out when staff sit down. Get as much food on your plate due to the rush from the staff to eat as mush as possible, its quite funny.
Very poor information as to whet brids are there, we did ask and the reply was not a lot.
Rooms not cleaned beds not made. We dropped some crisps on the floor, when we arrived and were still there when we left. Felt like we were there to help with funding rather than a guest. Avoid

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Billydo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
38 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed August 20, 2011

Very comfortable rooms although not soundproofed adequately to keep out the noise of the howling gale overnight. Food was reasonable - you can't expect gourmet provisions in such a remote place. Staff were helpful, when you could find them. Not a fault of NRBO but don't rely on return flight/ferry - even in mid-Summer our flight was almost 5 hours late due to poor weather conditions.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank 186411Phil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory

Property: North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory
Address: Twingness, Scotland
Location: United Kingdom > Scotland > Orkney Islands > North Ronaldsay
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in North Ronaldsay
Number of rooms: 22

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