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“Very nice place that could be more welcoming”
Review of Inn at Ship Bay

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Inn at Ship Bay
Ranked #4 of 19 Orcas Island B&B and Inns
Reviewed 2 December 2011

I, my wife and her mother stayed here for 6 nights this summer at the start of a long trip to the Western States. We were hoping for somewhere tranquil and comfortable to relax for a few days after our long flights from the UK and to use as a base for exploring Orcas Island.

Largely it provided what we'd hoped for. The rooms were comfortable and attractive and had pleasant views over the lawns to the water of East Sound, though we were further from the cliff edge than I'd expected. The grounds are attractive and the location just out of East Sound - the main town on Orcas - is convenient and also pretty central for getting everywhere else.

It could have been a 5-star review but for two things...

On our first morning we went for the included breakfast and were very disappointed. Firstly, it seemed deserted - and although a member of staff was around she didn't greet us, or seem keen to show us to a table or anything like that. We found the coffee and the buffet but it really was very limited. All there was that I could see were some little muffins, some granola and a platter of fruit. As we're all following a particular diet the granola and muffins were off limits but the fruit would have been ideal, except that the whole platter - intended presumably to cater for lots of guests - would have done nicely for maybe two of us. In fact, only the previous morning, at the Marriott at SEATAC, we'd ordered a similar plate of fruit each at breakfast! There may have been a few other things on the buffet but it certainly wasn't lavish by any standards. For the rest of our stay we breakfasted elsewhere.

The other disappointment about this inn is that unlike almost all small inns we've ever stayed in in the USA, there was almost no welcome from the owners or staff - with one very notable exception. We were there 6 nights, but didn't once knowingly meet the owners, nor were welcomed by them and (with that one exception) none of the various staff members I spoke to ever introduced themselves or seemed interested in who I was. The result of this lack of interest and attention was that this otherwise very attractive Inn seemed rather soulless.

The exception - and they're very lucky to have him - was a man called Luke, who I think lives on site and welcomed us on our arrival as we were arriving after the main office closed. Luke was extremely helpful, ensuring we had everything we needed and were comfortable in our rooms. He also told us about the wildlife we could see from our balcony and discussed restaurants - all the typical conversations one has on arrival at a B&B. On odd occasions when we saw him at other times, he was always friendly.

When I came to check out, another anonymous person started to deal with me but then Luke took over - immediately transforming the check-out experience from cold and functional to a pleasant experience with good wishes for the rest of our trip, etc..

We had booked their restaurant - which has good reviews - for most of our nights on Orcas but our experience with the breakfast slightly put us off. We'd also by then discovered the New Leaf Inn in East Sound, which is wonderful and ended up eating there every night apart from the first (when we ate at the Deer Harbour Inn - a mistake). So I can't comment on the restaurant; it may well be excellent - I don't know. Certainly it's location is lovely with fine views over the Sound.

So, overall, there's a lot to like about the Inn at Ship Bay and it suited us very well indeed. Because of this, I'm only taking off one star for the poor welcome and the inadequate breakfast. Ideally I'd give 3.5 stars but I can't.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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6  Thank Alan_from_Hampshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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55 - 61 of 110 reviews

Reviewed 11 October 2011

Our first visit. Didn't know what to expect so we were very pleased when we arrived at the Inn at Ship Bay. our second story room with a king bed was comfortable and the view from the deck was outstanding (of the bay). The restaurant appeared to be very popular and filled with locals so you know the food is good. Great bar too. We were not fortunate enough to see the local eagles we heard about but salmon in great numbers were jumping out of the water just befow the bluff. We stayed 2 nights and that was plenty of time for us on the island.

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Marilyn P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 September 2011

From the thoughtfully appointed cozy (not small) rooms, to the 5 Star restaurant, this property rates as one of the most affordable, must visit spots in the islands. A getaway location you'll remember and dream of returning to.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank greg7124
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 September 2011

My husband and I stayed 4 nights in our upstairs room (1 of only 11) with an awesome view of the bay, the daily visitors to the grounds being the local black tail deer grazing (the bucks and does seemingly nonplussed by human presence, and the variety of local sea birds such as Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers, Brandt's Cormorants, a resident Bald Eagle and two juveniles, the ever-present but graceful Turkey Vultures and seagulls, Canada Geese, numerous Ravens & some crows, as well as several smaller species of tree and ground dwelling birds such as Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-Crowned Kinglets, Steller's Jays, Barn Swallows, and Dark-eyed Juncos. Opportunities for viewing the birds and photographing them were frequent.

Every day around 5:00 PM, the host and manager, Luke, would entertain those present with what I called the "fish fling", when he would throw the previous night's fish scraps (halibut, salmon, etc.) over the cliff to the beach below, attracting a variety of avian visitors eager to partake of a delicious meal.....a ritual full of interesting bird behaviors one could observe, enjoy and photograph. We attended these "parties" 3 out of the 4 evenings and had great fun, along with being able to meet and talk with other inn guests.

Our room was comfortable, with all the necessary amenties (coffee maker, hair dryer, Wi-Fi, TV) but we did have one night of some annoying endless television noise from our direct upstairs neighbors, but the friendly staff was quick to remedy the problem and we were grateful for their gentle intervention. I agree with another reviewer that the pillows were a tad squishy, but the bed was very plush and we slept well.

I cannot recommend the restaurant at Inn at Ship Bay highly enough. Both my husband and I enjoyed two of the finest dining experiences we've ever had, and the chef, Geddes Martin, offers a thoroughly creative, delicious menu of garden-to-table creations. The bouillabaisse was the most original, beautiful and satisfying seafood dish we've ever had, totally unlike any typical seafood "stew". Do not miss it if it is on the menu when you're there!

Breakfast begins at 9:00 AM, goes to 11:00 AM (in case you want to get out early and then return to eat)....a beautifully presented Continental style spread with fresh fruit, different baked goods, good coffee, tea, yogurts and the best (gluten-free) home made granola ever! Sitting out on the patio taking in the view was a wonderful way to start the mornings.

The location of this Inn is perfect as far as proximity to East Sound and Moran State Park and other attractions on the island, but the main road traffic noise is impossible to avoid, yet it was not really bothersome to us. We think the trade off of the road was worth the views and everything else which was so great about the inn, the grounds, the restaurant and the service provided by staff, and especially the personal attentiveness of Luke, whose calm and charming demeanor made us feel very welcome; he was also full of information and tips about the local sights and spots and events we would enjoy.....one definitely being our visit to the impressive Rosario mansion (Robert Moran's historic turn of the century home) where at 4:00 PM (presented daily) we enjoyed a magnificent piano and stunning organ recital in a ballroom of the estate. Not to be missed if you have the time.

I would like to end this review with a quote from Robert Moran himself and recommend Inn at Ship Bay to those who want to have a great home base from which to enjoy Orcas Island: "Orcas Island......a wonderful place in which to forget one's troubles and worries and get back to nature in her happiest moods....a delightful place in which to regain health.....physical, spiritual and mental." R. Moran, 1932

Room Tip: Book an upstairs room, and definitely eat at the restaurant. You will hear some restaurant diners...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Cthebirdie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2011

NO insulation between floors so any guests above you can be heard very well! As a result, did not sleep well either night.

  • Stayed: September 2011
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1  Thank Gouldali
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 September 2011

Charming 11-room hotel. Quiet location right on Ship Bay. View off the private balcony is of the bay and trees with a bald eagle nest. Nice size room with a small fridge, coffeemaker and hairdryer included. King bed and free wi-fi. Older CRT TV, but it works fine. Bed was a bit firm for our tastes, but I overheard others raving about the mattresses, so it's all personal preference. There were deer on the front lawn munching away at the pear trees. It was our 10-year anniversary and when we arrived in the room, there was a fruit and cheese tray in the fridge with a congratulatory note. Very nice touch. Continental breakfast included some really tasty granola and when I inquired about where they got it, they said they make it there! Staff was very nice and offered us tips on restaurants and what to see and do on the island. Hotel is just outside of town, so you have to drive into Eastsound, but that means the hotel itself is nice and quiet. They have their own restaurant, which I hear is excellent, but it was a bit out of our price range. As everything has to be brought to the island, things are a bit more expensive than in Seattle. All in all a great hotel and I would definitely stay here again.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank PugMomma4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 September 2011

My wife and I stayed here three days and nights and were treated quite well by the friendly staff. While the physical location of the Inn seems close to a busy street the sound of the island traffic soon fades into a sort of white noise.

The only negative thing came about as we were located in an upstairs unit (all units are two levels) and the guests in the unit below us were avid television addicts, watching it until the wee hours of the morning. The lack of soundproofing was sort of a problem. On the plus side when I mentioned this issue to the Inn staff they were quite concerned and offered immediately to speak to the offending guests downstairs.

The dining at the Inn is a true exceptional experience.

Room Tip: Request an upstairs room and make a dinner reservation.
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank left_at_eaglecap
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Inn at Ship Bay

Address: 326 Olga Rd, Orcas Island, WA 98245-9425
Region: United States > Washington > San Juan Islands > Orcas Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 19 B&Bs / Inns in Orcas Island
Price Range: £117 - £118 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Inn at Ship Bay. We are an eleven room, owner operated, Country Inn and Restaurant at the top of a bluff with unobstructed southern views over the waters of Ship Bay. The Inn is built around the historic 1869 Adam's farmhouse in the center of heirloom plum, pear and apple orchards. Inn at Ship Bay is located one mile from the village of Eastsound on Orcas Island, the largest and most mountainous of the San Juan Islands. Join us for a comfortable and relaxing Orcas Island experience ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Inn At Ship Bay Hotel Orcas Island
Inn At Ship Bay Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, WA

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