Self Catering Accommodation in Kirkwall, Orkney – Ayre Hotel

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?

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 cafes, restaurants and amenities. We felt this was a great starting point and this is how we got on.

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

OUR APARTMENT – 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 – 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.

LOCATION – As you’ve probably gathered the location of the hotel was spot on for exploring Kirkwall on foot, and exploring Orkney by car. 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; 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.

OUR STORY – We caught the 1700 ferry direct to Kirkwall from Aberdeen, docking at 11.00pm. We spent three nights at the Ayre Hotel, using it as a central base to explore further afield.

If you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address in the ‘Follow’ box then click ‘Follow’ or join the conversation on Facebook. For any queries or opportunities please email  We ventured to Orkney courtesy of Northlink Ferries. We stayed at Ayre Hotel in Kirkwall guests of the Digital Media Orkney project. Discover more at All images copyright of Tots2Travel.