Search the best hotels in Orkney
If you want to escape modern life entirely then the Orkney Islands are the kind of magical portals into peace and beauty you might be looking for. They’re just a few short, dangerous, misty miles across from Scotland's mainland, but these green and mostly flat islands are places rich in Viking lore, dotted with prehistoric structures and where people are beholden still to the sea rather than their smart phones. Mysterious and historic as the Orkney Islands might be, they’ve also got some beautiful, sandy beaches. Choosing the best places to stay in Orkney is about great views, remote locations, warm welcomes and getting back to nature. And our Guru’s recommendations for the best hotels on the Orkney Islands tick all these boxes and more.
Skara Brae is probably Orkney’s most famous sight, a prehistoric community predating Stonehenge and the pyramids. There’s beds, boxes and cupboards, all made of stone, which have survived 5000 years underneath the sand and grass of the beautiful, sandy bay. And it’s just eight miles north of Stromness on the island interestingly called Mainland.
Mainland also has Maeshowe, a Neolithic chamber and cairn tomb built from huge sandstone blocks, some weighing many tons. And within sight of Maeshowe are the strange circle of 12, the Standing Stones of Stenness.
Stromness has a brilliant museum with all sorts of treasures, from prehistoric ones to far more recent maritime ones.
Kirkwall is the other main town on Mainland, and this is where you’ll find the famous Highland Park Distillery and the wonderfully red stone St. Magnus Cathedral.
Hoy is one of the other larger islands, and is definitely worth a visit for the Old Man of Hoy, an incredible rock stack balancing precariously on the top of an eroding headland. Only really confident climbers should attempt it, but the rest of us can certainly enjoy the approach, especially if you come through peaceful Randwick Glen, through the RSPB Nature Reserve and past the 5000 year old Dwarfie Stone, a fine example of a rock-cut tomb.
You’ll find another cluster of archaeological sights on Rousay. If you’re looking for sandy beaches, try Sanday, if you’re looking for puffins try Westray - which also has the sturdy tower shape of Notland Castle. And if you’re here to dive then you’ll probably already know that most of the German World War 1 imperial fleet was scuppered in Scapa Flow and is now an eerie, but totally unique diving terrain.
Use our guide to the best places to stay in Orkney to help to plan your trip.
The Best Places to Stay on Orkney
For a guesthouse
- Graemeshall House has had many evolutions, firstly as a house built by the Bishop of Orkney in 1626, then as a museum and now as a guesthouse. The place exudes historic charm with ornate furniture, crystal chandeliers and antique beds.
For a restaurant with rooms
- Kirkwall's The Storehouse is a traditional barn newly renovated into a restuarnt with hotel rooms. The renovation has kept much of its original woodwork and stone arches, and the eight cosy rooms have individual contemporary styles but all feature low beamed ceilings and wooden flooring. The innovative kitchen serves local produce.
Monthly Weather in Orkney
Best Hotels in Orkney
The Storehouse Kirkwall, Orkney 8 rooms from CA$152Local exploring - Kirkwall is a great location from which to explore the Orkneys, from breathtaking cliffs to Neolithic sites and much moreActive Holiday - The Orkney Archipelago boasts some spectacular landscapes ideally suited to outdoor activities like hikingShort break - Thanks to the local airport, Kirkwall has become an easily accessible location from mainland ScotlandGreat walks - The dramatic coastline and abundance of wildlife on the Orkneys guarantee great walks like no others
A traditional barn newly renovated into a hotel. The Storehouse keeps much of its original woodwork and stone arches. The cosy rooms have individual contemporary styles but all feature low beamed ceilings and wooden flooring. The innovative kitchen serves local produce. A charming stay. See More
The Kirkwall Hotel Kirkwall, Orkney 37 rooms from CA$160Local exploring - Kirkwall’s medieval streets are brimming with independent shops, cafes and live music spotsBack to Nature - Orkney islands and rugged and wild - there perfect destination for getting back to natureGreat walks - There are a wide range of walking trails along the coast and through rugged countrysideRestaurant - Harbour View Restaurant serves elevated Scottish cuisine made using local produce
A fine Victorian building right on Kirkwall's waterfront. Rooms are chic yet cosy with plush headboards, thick carpets, modern furniture, and black & white prints. With an atmospheric bar and restaurant serving local cuisine, this is a comfortable and well-priced base to explore from. See More
Graemeshall House Orkney 2 rooms from CA$169Sights nearby - Visit the magnificent Standing Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar.Great walks - The surrounding countryside is full of lovely walking trails.Restrictions on children - Adult only.Full of character