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.
- 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