Observatory Hostel, NRBO, North Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands, KW17 2BE

Call Duty Warden on 01857 633200


The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory is situated at the south west corner of the island with outstanding views and an adjacent shell sand beach. Seals and the unique seaweed-eating sheep are abundant along the coast which skirts the 34 acres of croft managed by the observatory. The observatory sees spectacular bird migration through the island in spring and autumn. It offers a special attraction for those interested in wildlife, but welcomes all visitors. The Observatory Hostel consists of three dormitories and a self-catering kitchen in a converted barn and byre of the croft. The Byre sleeps four in two bunks and has en suite washing, shower and toilet facilities, great for family use. The Barn also sleeps four and shares facilities with the Bøl which has a single bunk sleeping two. Adjacent is the Observatory Guest House (3 star) which has a lounge bar and meals which are available to hostellers. Camping (electric hook-up) and grocery shop on-site.

This accommodation is featured on our map of Orkney and Shetland and here is its own website.


  • Beds & Rooms:

    10: 2x4,1x2 + Guesthouse.
  • Open:

    All year. All day. No curfews.
  • Price per night:

    Hostel £18-£19.50 half board from £39.50. Guest house private rooms £58.50 - £75 half board.
  • Booking:

    Advance booking essential.
  • Directions:

    Situated at the south west corner of the island
  • Public Transport:

    Loganair flights from Kirkwall (Orkney) leave daily. Ferry from Kirkwall on Fridays and between May-Sept also on Tuesdays (subject to tides and weather). Small boats may be chartered. Orkney can be reached by vehicle ferries from Aberdeen, Thurso (Scrabster) and Gill's Bay, and a passenger summer service from John O'Groats.
  • Walks:

    Long Distance Walkers AssociationLong Distance Walks

This accommodation is featured on the following pages


aMixed dormitories
bSingle sex dormitories
cPrivate rooms
&Family rooms
dBedding provided
gFully heated
mMeals available (with notice)
nBreakfast available (with notice)
kSelf catering facilities
iDrying room
pClothes washing facilities
0VisitScotland Quality Assured


Map showing the location of Observatory Hostel View Nearby Hostels

News & Offers from Observatory Hostel

The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory Hostel is now open and taking booking.

July 29th 2020

If you have a booking July or August please let us know if you’re still planning to travel.


North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory

January 27th 2019

Sometimes, when writing these natters, a hostel comes up which makes me go, “Wow!” and sit back in my chair.
The Observatory Hostel on North Ronaldsay just did that to me.

Knowing nothing about it, I assumed the ‘observatory’ part of its name meant a telescope-type observatory: gazing at the stars through the no-doubt-crystal-clear Orcadian nights. I was wrong. The full title is “North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory”. It is part of a complex around a scientific bird-monitoring facility on the most far northern Orkney Isle.

There are 3 hostel buildings available to groups or individuals: The Byre sleeps four in two rooms with en suite facilities; The Barn and the Bøl sleeps four and two respectively and shares facilities. The adjacent Observatory Guest House is available for meals if you don’t fancy self-catering.

Glancing through the amazing Social media picture gallery you get some sense of why the observatory is there. They’ve just tweeted that the Autumn migration is beginning and they’re expecting a deluge of birdlife to pass through. What a fabulous experience that must be. Scrolling further though their observations, you get a sense of the range of wild, almost arctic life to see including seals, humpbacked whales and orcas.

What a treat for anyone into wildlife!

Observatory Hostel

Famous Seaweed Eating Sheep

January 4th 2019

Visit North Ronaldsay and stay at Observatory Hostel.

North Ronaldsay is famous for a very ancient breed of sheep which live on the beaches and eat seaweed. The Dyke, a 13 mile circle of dry stone wall around the island, keeps the sheep on the shore. They only come inland for lambing. The meat from the sheep is prized by chefs in the capital cities of Scotland and the UK. A journey to North Ronaldsay is made worthwhile by the hundreds of migrating birds that can been seen flying over the island and occasionally stopping to take rest. The local population is always pleased to see new people,making a visit to North Ronaldsay an experience you will remember for ever. The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory provides great value accommodation in the heart of the community.  Thanks you to I C Caldwell for the photo


Observatory Hostel

Contact Observatory Hostel

Contact Observatory Hostel - Call Duty Warden on 01857 633200

Visit Website   Send Message
01857 633200 Visit Website   Send Message