Hostels in the Orkney Islands : Self catering hostel and bird observatory on North Ronaldsay


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

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 and grocery shop on-site.

This accommodation is featured on our map of Orkney and Shetland and here is its own website.
Observatory Hostel | Hostels in the Orkney Islands :  Self catering hostel and bird observatory on North Ronaldsay

Contact Observatory Hostel

or call Duty Warden on
01857 633200

Visit this accommodation's Website
Rooms & Beds:

10: 2×4,1×2 + Guesthouse.


All year. All day. No curfews.

Price per night:

Hostel £18-£19, half board from £39.50. Guest house private rooms £56 – £73.50 half board.


Advance booking essential.




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.

This accommodation is by the sea, is available to individuals, has a pub within walking distance and is on the Hostels with Camping map.

News & Offers

Why go to North Ronaldsay ?

Why go to North Ronaldsay ?

Jane Geraghty stayed at North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory and here is what she said.

Jane Geraghty stayed at the Observatory Hostel on North Ronaldsay and said: –   The island was so quiet and peaceful. The lighthouse is well worth a visit especially with the local guide. The hostel was very friendly and it was good to eat with staff, guests and volunteers at the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory.  It was great to hear all the stories about adventures and bird sightings.

Ray Milner replies “I stayed there a few times several years ago and loved it. Very welcoming (communal dinners are a great time to get mixed people talking.) Decidedly not just for bird watchers.”

You can visit the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory yourself by booking a stay at the Observatory Hostel.  You can support NRBO ‘s  latest projects by becoming a ” Friend of NRBO “.   All friends receive a copy of the latest bird report and discounts at the accommodation.  Click here to find out more.

North Ronaldsey Bird Observatory

North Ronaldsey Bird Observatory

What a treat for anyone into wildlife!

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 Ronaldsey 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 Ronaldsey 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!



Famous Seaweed Eating Sheep

Famous Seaweed Eating Sheep

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

Contact Observatory Hostel:

01857 633200MessageView website