We stayed in Eastward House for two nights at the end of July 2011. The guest house is in a converted church, with beautiful views all around. Don't let the fact that it's situated beside the main island road bother you. It's one of the quietest main roads I have ever encountered in my travels. The only time we saw any amount of traffic on it was when a couple of coaches were coming back from the ferry port. The only thing I heard when I woke up in the morning was seabirds and sheep.
We stayed in the Lotus Blossom Room at the front of the building: a light, airy, en-suite room with beautiful arched windows. The comfortable bed, which is huge, is made up for you each day. The room is a good size, with lots of wardrobe space, which is useful if you're staying for any length of time. The bathroom is also well-sized and is stocked with good toiletries and huge, fluffy John Lewis bathsheets which are replaced fresh each day. There is a large guest lounge with comfortable sofas, a large flat-screen TV, an internet-connected computer for guest use, and generous tea and coffee making facilities.
So far, so normal for good B&Bs, I hear you say. But Eastward House is different, and that's down to the owners' and their approach to food and guests. When we arrived and dropped our bags in the room, we were invited to the lounge for a pot of tea and a chat with Patrick. He was keen to find out what we wanted from our trip to the Islands and to help us get the most from our time there. He was also able to point us in the direction of the South Ronaldsay cliff top walk, and as it wasn't a circular walk his wife, Keiko, ran us back to pick up our hire car from the starting point.
And what really sets Eastward House head and shoulders above the rest is the food. You get a hint of that when you sit down to breakfast, which you've ordered the night before. It starts with a big bowl of the best fruit salad you've ever had. For a start all the fruit used in it was perfectly ripe; it was all prepared to the highest standards (the citrus fruit segments were peeled); there was a great variety of fruit offered each day, and it wasn’t swimming in juice. Seriously, of all the things I miss from my trip, I miss this fruit salad the most. Haggis only gets second place on the list.
After the fruit comes warm rolls with homemade jam (plum and ginger when we were there), and porridge if you want it. G and I both had the full breakfast on our first morning which was a lot more full than other B&B breakfasts have been. Two sausages, two rashers of bacon, scrambled eggs, brown bread toast, beans, mushroom and tomato. I'm sad to say the standard breakfast is so filling we never managed to try their Fisherman's Plight breakfast. I had a scaled down breakfast for day two as I knew I couldn't do the full works justice. The packed lunch we got from them was of equally high standards, although the flask with hot water for tea was bigger than I’d want to be carrying for miles in a back-pack.
Eastward also offers evening meals, which need to be booked in advance. We booked the Tokyo Nights Japanese banquet for our second night there, indeed the banquet was what had tempted us to stay there in the first place. The standout courses for me were the sashimi and the tuna tataki, but the whole meal was plate-lickingly good. Hand on my heart, this meal beat the 12 course tasting menu we had in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Belfast by a country mile.
If you're looking a warm welcome in the Orkney Islands, with delicious food, I highly recommend Eastward House. I know where I'll be staying next time we visit Orkney.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Eastward Guest House is a destination for lovers of good food seeking a unique dining experience with excellent cuisine in a happy atmosphere. Great food and genuine friendship are equal partners in a house of warm hospitality that creates memorable occasions. The business is also widely known as The Missing Bell. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Eastward Guest House Orkney Islands, Scotland