This was my second trip to Eastward Guest House in two years, and I strongly suspect it will not be too long before I return. I was wowed on my first visit, and my second visit was just as good, if not better. A truly great B&B, in my opinion, has three great things going for it: great location, food, and comfort. Eastward redefines the meaning of all three.
First, the location. Orkney isn't very big, so Eastward is a short drive no matter which ferry you take. It's about 45 minutes if you take the CalMac, but even better it's about 10 minutes if you take the Pentland ferries (which are far less fussy and have shorter crossing times). Also, it is minutes from Tomb of the Eagles, and fairly short drives to every other attraction you might want to see. I think I may have driven 45 minutes max to get to anywhere. Although it's about a 30 minute drive or so into town, if you choose to eat outside of Eastward (and you should NOT), there are a few decent little pubs/restaurants within about a 10 minute drive. For a location, you couldn't ask for much more.
Comfort: EVERYTHING around Eastward is centred on your comfort. I have never, ever, been pampered so well and so thoughtfully. The rooms are all located upstairs, with lovely, comfortable beds and pillowy warm duvets. The beds even have electric bed warming sheets right on the mattress - absolute heaven if you've been trekking about all day (it does get cool in Orkney, it's fairly far north). Great big soft, thick, heavy bathrobes are found in your closet - not the little paper thin shifts you get in hotels, PROPER robes. Each room has an alarm clock that will also fit your ipod (great touch), and you are also provided with little toothbrushes, soap, etc. Only a couple of rooms are ensuite, but I never found this a problem as generally you'll still have a bathroom to yourself. Water is piping hot and pressure is great! Also, the guest lounge is outstanding - I've never seen anything like it. The best sound system I think I've ever listened to, lots of DVDs to watch, Sky TV, a dining table, free computer access and wifi, a coffee/hot chocolate/tea station, a little fridge stocked with Coke and water, etc - how much more spoiled can you get? What a wonderful place to relax in!
And if you aren't swayed yet, then let me finish it for you: the food. Oh my god the food. I've rarely eaten in restaurants with food this fabulous! They basically cater to EVERYONE - vegans, paleo, diabetics, whatever you want. Breakfast is an experience. You will not need lunch. Farm fresh eggs are delivered every morning (I know, because I took them from the lady one day!), salmon, sausages made especially for Eastward, fruit cocktail that is prepared daily, the most delicious oatmeal in Scotland, and a selection of cereals, yogurt, etc. And that is just one day - there are many other full breakfasts to choose from, including a vegan special that you would not believe. Patrick and Keiko also packed us a little snack pack to take during the day, as my father is diabetic and needed to eat fairly regularly. I wish they'd pack me a lunch every day, it was so delicious!
Upon booking, you are able to book suppers. Do this. Do NOT miss out on evening meals at Eastward. We had three suppers while we were there, and I still remember every bite. Our first meal was a Japanese one, light fare ( I forget the name), with an app of tofu, main of salmon, and a green tea chocolate fondant cake for dessert. I still salivate about that tofu. I never ever thought I'd utter that phrase in my life. Also, I confess that I HATE salmon, absolutely hate it, but Patrick prepared it with such expertise that I happily hate 90% of it. It wasn't doused in a heavy sauce either - just lightly seasoned and marinated, and served with dishes that perfectly accompanied it. We also repeated our choice of the French traditional (well worth it!), and dined in on another couple's Italian night. The spoiled brat writing this review is not a big lover of seafood, so Patrick gave me chicken pasta instead of the seafood masterpiece everyone else got. It was sooooooo amazing. I still am trying to figure out how I can recreate it. Every meal is cooked with the freshest, high quality ingredients. I can't begin to do it justice. I certainly spent far more money in restaurants in Scotland and didn't get half the experience I did at Eastward. Get the food. COME for the food!
To sum up, staying at Eastward cements the magical experience of Orkney. Patrick and Keiko, the hosts, create such atmosphere of comfort, luxury, and ease that makes everyone feel like royalty. They go above and beyond to make your stay fantastic, and they are highly engaging people to be around. My only regret is that Eastward has become so travelled that I had to share them with other guests!
All in all, one of the most memorable stays I've had. Ever.
- 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