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“Magical experience”

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Fair Isle Lodge & Bird Observatory
Reviewed 2 August 2013 via mobile

Fabulous experience for birders, walkers, and those who want to get away from it all. Surprisingly comfortable lodging, excellent food and drink and, interesting fellow travelers and staff. Our return flight was delayed 8 hours due to fog allowing more time to explore the island. Best to assume there might be travel delays.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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3  Thank Peter V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (40)
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22 - 28 of 40 reviews

Reviewed 16 July 2013

I was on Fair Isle for a photographic trip. The Bird Observatory is a large modern building, spacious and bright inside. The seating area in the lounge is very comfortable with large leather sofas and other seats. There are tea, including fruit and herbal teas and coffee making facilities, so that you can help yourself at any time. Hot chocolate can be available at 9pm.

A drying room is available to leave clothes and boots. You are not allowed to wander around the building in boots so take a pair of slippers or comfortable indoors shoes to wear. This keeps the carpets and areas very clean.
The bedrooms are warm, clean and a reasonable size. There is plenty of hanging space and drawers to use. The shower in the bathroom has plenty of hot water and a very good flow rate. Hand wash, shampoo and shower gel are provided as well as thick and soft towels. The heated towel rail cannot be controlled and will be cold unless the heating is on in the whole building. There is a bathroom with a bath and a hairdryer located in the corridor.

There is a very good selection of books about birds etc but there are also some novels.
If you get the chance it is worth hiring a car. The island is small, but a car can take you to locations, then you can walk. The local shop has a good range of items.

I was disappointed with the food. I like a healthy diet and I found the food to be filling but stodgy. I appreciate that being on an island means transportation is expensive and limits the variety available. Some of our group were 'gluten free' and they were delighted with their food including freshly baked gluten free bread, which they said was the best they had ever eaten. The staff did well to cater for the needs of others who had special diet requirements.

To get to the island try to fly and not use the boat. Our flight could not fly because of the weather and we had to use the small cargo boat, which holds 12 passengers maximum. I am normally a good sailor and do not get seasick despite being previously in very rough seas. This 2 hour 40 minute trip was rough, the boat being flung in all directions and I was seasick for the first time ever.


Staff were very friendly and helpful.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Moira G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 July 2013

We spent 3 days there as a big birthday treat for me and Teresa., we share the same birthday(unbeknown to the team). We had a very comfortable room with a panoramic view of the cliffs, sea and grassland of sheep. Everyone was very welcoming, friendly and helpful throughout our stay. It was lovely to be part of the team as with all the visitors when we all mixed and chatted at mealtimes. It was very relaxed and enjoyable. We were well fed with a variety of dishes, deliciously prepared each day, no question. We thoroughly enjoyed the guided walks and also ventured out ourselves, never wanting to miss anything sometimes till 9pm. It was a treat to sit and watch the puffins close up. We were lucky weatherwise as it was sunny most of the time there.
So much to see, besides migrating birds. The views are stunning and it will be a birthday to remember for me.
I must add that we had a lovely surprise of a ' birthday cake', most genius concoction, and some champagne for the birthday girls. That was a lovely thought, thank you, The game was given away by lovely Grace at breakfast when she told her mummy ( Susannah) that ' it was Teresa's mummy's birthday too'!!!
Keep up the good work FIBO team! Well done! I fully recommend a visit to this beautiful island.

Room Tip: Quieter on the south side.
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank Florence D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 June 2013

lovely stay 4 nights that extended to 7 due to fog at airstrip
susanah and her husband were excellent hosts
good clean ensuite accommodation
centrally located good bar with local beers
a breakfast to die for good homemade bread
my wife who is a fussy eater was well catered for
get yourselfs over to enjoy a gem island even if you are not a bird twitcher
gust talks and local musicians

Room Tip: all have good views
  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank alistair w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2013 via mobile

We were booked into another B&B on Fair Isle for 2 nights, but due to a problem there the Bird Observatory agreed to accommodate us at very short notice. This then extended to 4 nights due to fog preventing flights in or out of Fair Isle. All this was achieved with no fuss and excellent communication. What's more, we were delighted to be "stranded" there for an extra 2 nights. There is a communal feel but plenty of space to do your own thing. Staff are friendly, enthusiastic and happy to involve you in activities at the observatory and on the island as a whole, but (non-birders note!) there is no pressure to do anything other than enjoy the wonderful surroundings. And the food is tasty, home-cooked and plentiful. Thanks to Dave & Susanna, and ALL the others for their hospitality. We'll be back.

  • Stayed: June 2013
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2  Thank Ian C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2013

The bird observatory is a great place to stay - warm and with plenty of food! The warden and other guests are inevitably a bit focussed on birds, which is understandable enough, but to the exclusion of everything else?

The drying room wasn't very effective, but rooms are warm enough to dry clothes if necessary.

Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
2  Thank Matthew44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2012

We stayed on Fair Isle for two nights and absolutely loved it. The island is so beautiful and the bird life stunning. Sitting right next to a group of puffins is something we'll never forget.
The Bird Observatory Lodge is a nice place, friendly staff, clean and simple. We aren't serious bird watchers with all sorts of equipment but we like to go out, take in and admire the nature (including birds) and are always keen to learn more where we can. What we hoped for at the lodge was to be able to join guided walks that tell you a bit more about the birds around, their behaviour etc. This, however, was not offered. I would say it is more a place for the keen bird watcher to find like-minded people and exchange experiences. If you are not that it is still a good place to stay though!

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank AnPaKe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Fair Isle Lodge & Bird Observatory

Address: Fair Isle Lodge and Bird Observatory | Shetland, ZE2 9JU, Scotland
Region: United Kingdom > Scotland > Shetland Islands > Fair Isle
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Fair Isle
Number of rooms: 16
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 

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