Orkney Accommodation and Travel

Old Jan 20th, 2008, 08:26 AM
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Orkney Accommodation and Travel

Planning our first ever visit to Orkney in April or May 2008.

(1) Can anyone recommend accommodation, either self catering or top end hotels? (DW not keen on mid to low price hotels).

(2) How easy is it to hire a car when we get there? Will it work out cheaper than taking our car on the ferry? Is it feasible to base ourselves in Stromness or Kirkwall and get around by bus?

(3) Most comments I've seen suggest that the shorter ferry crossings from John O'Groats or Gills Bay are much more likely to get rough in bad weather, compared with Aberdeen-Kirkwall and Scrabster-Stromness. Anyone agree or disagree?

Thanks for any advice.
Craigellachie is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2008, 12:46 AM
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We stayed in these self catering cottages a few years ago. They were comfortable, spotlessly clean and had wonderful sea views.


We drove (we live near Manchester) and took the short ferry ride from Gills Bay, I seem to remember it was a little rough (it set the car alarm off) but nothing too drastic. We made the drive back down the west coast of Scotland part of the trip, taking several days on the way back.

I don't think you'd have any problems hiring a car from the airport there if you flew - it realy depends on the rest of your plans and where you are arriving from.

Maria_H is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2008, 01:05 AM
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Take a look on this website.
There isn't much in the way of 4*in Orkney. Quite often the guest house accomodation can be better than the hotels. The Lynnfield has just been renovated and i think it boasts that its the only 4*hotel.
I would definitely hire a car(book in advance) so you have the freedom.There are a lot of nice places to visit -some not acccessible by public transport.Driving on the Orkney roads will not stress you out. Base yourself in Kirkwall would be my suggestion.
Yes the larger ferry from Aberdeen would be the more comfortable option -not so exciting though!
carylspall is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2008, 02:27 AM
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The ferry crossing from Aberdeen is much longer and also arrives in Kirkwall late in the evening, which would mean you'd have to find your way to your accommodation in the dark.
Of the three shorter ferry crossings, Scrabster-Stromness has the biggest ship, and sails past the Old Man of Hoy. The crossing from Gill's Bay is shorter and is in a slightly smaller car ferry. The crossing from John O'Groats is in a smaller passenger vessel that does not take cars.
Bus services mostly radiate from Kirkwall. April and May are out of season, so some buses to tourist sites may not run. Kirkwall is also the main port for ferries to the nothern islands such as Sanday and Westray.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2008, 03:56 AM
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No top end hotel
All appartments I've used were clean and good value (these guys really set a high standard)
We went in June and used buses but check the bus timetables are not in winter mode
Some of the islands rent out bikes which are very sensible
Assume that you will lose a day or a ferry or something. We based our selves in Stromness but Kirkwell would be good to.

You also need a mind set to really enjoy the trip. It took a a couple of days to slow down
bilboburgler is online now  
Old Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:02 AM
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We've reserved rooms at the Mill of Eyrland, sort of halfway between Kirkwall and Stromness, and it looks wonderful - the owners have been great with communication and such.
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Old Jan 27th, 2008, 03:09 AM
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As folk have said, there are no top end hotels on Orkney, and some of them are really not good....

these would be 2 I'd think of



It's easy to hire a car at the airport. I assume you can do it at the ferry port too, but if you can't it's a 10 minute run in a taxi up to the airport.

A huge amount of Orkney's inaccessible by bus. You will be better with a car.

The Pentland Firth is one of the worst sea crossings in the world. I've done teh Aberdeen run twice and the Scrabster run twice- ie we went up on the long ferry and back on the short one. I was sick on the Scrabster link, and not on teh others.

Both our boat trips to Orkney have been lovely sails. The first on a sunny flat calm day that was just a pleasure to be at sea; the other on a very pleasant evening with a very nice dinner in the restaurant.

If you have to stop over in the Granit City drop me a note and we can meet up.
sheila is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2008, 03:47 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. We're probably going to go self catering and hire a car when we get there.

Sheila, we're still deciding on our crossing route. I'll drop you an e-mail if we're going to spend time in Aberdeen.
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