Hotel & Self Catering in Kirkwall Orkney Near the Ferry Terminal

Hotel & Self Catering in Kirkwall Orkney Near the Ferry Terminal – As a travelling parent I always rate quality self-catering accommodation. Partly for the cooking/fridge facilities, partly because you usually get a living room, plus the kids have their own bedroom (thank goodness). But this doesn’t mean I’m a fan of shopping, cooking and cleaning – aren’t we meant to be on holiday?

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Ayre Hotel’s self catering apartments were recommended to me for multiple reasons. Firstly they were close to where our ferry docked, in Kirkwall Harbour, at 11.00pm. At that time of night I didn’t want an extensive transfer with two tots half awake/half asleep, half cherub/half monster in the back seat of the car.

Secondly, the apartments are newly refurbished, so everything is shiny and clean and glossy and lovely. Thirdly, they’re in Orkney’s capital, so on the doorstep of cafés, restaurants and amenities. We felt this was a great starting point and this is how we got on.

CHECK IN – Hotel & Self Catering in Kirkwall Orkney Near the Ferry Terminal

Despite arriving after 11.00pm the staff are totally used to late night ferry arrivals so check in was quick and smooth.


We had to leave the main hotel complex to walk over to the self-catering apartments, just a few metres away. There was ample private parking, so despite being central, parking outside our accommodation wasn’t an issue. We swiped open the front door and took the lift to our first floor flat – excellent for parents with buggies, wheelchairs and those carrying wriggling kids as well as luggage.

The apartments were notably wheelchair friendly with wide bathrooms and doors, so very adaptable apartments for all ages and requirements. The decor was crisp, modern and new, with lots of muted grey tones. We had two bedrooms, a living room/kitchen area, and a family bathroom, so the boys had room to play, and once they were tucked in myself and Mr Husband could chill out. There were televisions in both bedrooms and the living room, so providing morning CBeebies was no bother at all. In the kitchen, whilst you couldn’t cook extensively, you could certainly rustle up some pasta etc. A small criticism would be the lack of storage for clothes, especially in the twin bedroom, but that’s a relatively small detail.

FOOD – Hotel & Self Catering in Kirkwall Orkney Near the Ferry Terminal

We’d booked a B&B rate, so each morning we nipped over to the main hotel for breakfast. The main building isn’t as new and shiny as the apartments, but the breakfast fare was a standard, filling buffet option. My kids could live on sausages given half the chance.

It’s possible to dine at the hotel if you want to eat ‘at home’ without the cooking and the dishes. A Children’s menu is available too so check the dining options here. Equally, due to the central location of Ayre Hotel, it’s easy to nip into town for some family dining. Italian ‘Lucano’s’ was notably child friendly, Judith Glue was excellent, and for an evening ice-cream cone we nipped to Bruce’s stores for some sweet treats.


As you’ve probably gathered the location of the hotel was spot on for exploring Kirkwall on foot, and exploring Orkney by car. Here’s a guide to the best things to do in Orkney with kids.

We could easily walk to St Magnus Cathedral, Sheila Fleet jewellers, Orkney Museum, the harbour, supermarkets, the local cafes and restaurants. Alternatively we drove west for Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Brewery, Barony Mill, a couple of farming museums and Stromness; headed east for Skate Rumple Farm to meet the alpacas; and south for the Italian Chapel and the Tomb of the Eagles. Driving in Orkney is so easy and chilled.

In summary whilst the main hotel building is a little traditional, the self catering apartments are shiny, new, wheelchair friendly and self-catering. A great location, with friendly staff, and only a few minutes from the Kirkwall ferry terminal we found they were a great base for Orcadian exploration.


We caught the 1700 ferry direct to Kirkwall from Aberdeen, docking at 11.00pm. Read what it’s really like to catch the ferry with kids here.

We spent three nights at the Ayre Hotel, using it as a central base to explore further afield.

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  1. Reply


    August 8, 2017

    Hotels that offer these self catering apartments are such a good thing for families. We now only go to these kind of hotels as a family, so that there’s a bit more flexibility. this hotel looks lovely 🙂

    • Reply


      August 8, 2017

      You can eat out if you choose, or if you can’t face a night of parenting in public over dinner, or want something healthy then it’s easy to make a quick dinner. It’s the way for us too.

  2. Reply


    August 8, 2017

    Looks amazing . Would love to get a hotel getaway for me and the other half 🙂

    • Reply


      August 8, 2017

      An island escape perhaps?!

  3. Reply

    My Money Cottage

    August 8, 2017

    Always great to find new places to go with the kids 🙂

  4. Reply

    Ana De-Jesus

    August 8, 2017

    Aw. I am so pleased to hear the accomodation was wheelchair friendly and that you had a good time away xx

  5. Reply


    August 8, 2017

    I’m a fan of self-catering too since we’ve had the kids – you just get so much more space for your money and it works so much better for a family.

  6. Reply

    Newcastle Family Life

    August 9, 2017

    It sounds the perfect place to stay with children in Orkney, I really want to visit with my children so I will keep this hotel in mind x

  7. Reply

    NM (@nmdiariesx)

    August 9, 2017

    This actually sounds pretty cool! Its so nice to hear the hotel accomdates those who are in wheel chairs too. It speaks volumes about their service!

  8. Reply

    Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...

    August 10, 2017

    We always go for self catering so we have more food freedom (due to allergies) and more space than a hotel would offer which is so important with 3 energetic kids!

  9. Reply


    August 11, 2017

    I love going to self catering as you can suit yourself that way. Looks a fab place, will keep it in mind if I ever get my Orkney trip booked!

  10. Reply


    August 12, 2017

    What a lovely place to visit. We try and find self catering when we go away because it makes it so much cheaper (and less stressful) than eating out all the time.

  11. Reply

    Louise x (@withlovefromlou)

    August 28, 2017

    We pretty much always choose self catering accommodation when we go away. It means we can eat when and where we want. Whether that’s out at a nearby restaurant or cooking ourselves. I’d hate to be tied to a hotel 🙂

    Louise x

    • Reply


      August 28, 2017

      And you have the option of eating the hotel itself. A real mixed offering which appeals to me.

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