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There are all kinds of nods to our Orkney heritage at The Dunstane. The most obvious perhaps is the renaming of bedrooms in our newly refurbished house. Beautiful rooms deserve to be named after beautiful places, and the Orkney Islands are certainly that.
There was only one name for arguably the best room in the house though, The Dunstane Suite. An impressive Georgian-style bay window, luxurious freestanding bath and the comfy king-size Vispring bed mean you might find it difficult to leave the room during your stay. The building we are lucky enough to have has always been called the Dunstane and it’s a tradition we wanted to keep alive. Loosely translated from Gaelic, Dunstane is a stone fort. However the rest of our room names are all named for Orkney Islands.
Our three suites are no longer numbers but the Ronaldsay, Hoy and Scapa Suites. The Ronaldsay Suite should really be either North Ronaldsay or South, but we couldn’t choose! North Ronaldsay is the most northerly island in the Orkney archipelago and one of the most isolated islands. It has an ancient, hardy breed of sheep, Ronaldsay sheep, who live almost exclusively off seaweed they forage on the beaches. South Ronaldsay is the home of our owner Derek and the closest island to mainland Scotland, being just 6.5 miles from John O’Groats.
To the north west of South Ronaldsay is a body of water known as the Scapa Flow. Arguably one of the best diving locations in Europe, with sunken ships and remnants of a scuttled German fleet easily spotted in the clear, pollution free waters. Something to dream about as you relax in the stunning freestanding copper bath in our Scapa Suite.
Now, you could be fooled into thinking that the Hoy Suite has been named after Edinburgh’s gold-medal winning cyclist, Sir Chris Hoy. However, it’s actually a nod to one of Orkney’s most famous landmarks; the Old Man of Hoy, found on the second largest Orkney island. Hoy has perhaps the most dramatic landscape of any of the islands with mountainous moorlands and glacial valleys to explore.
The luxury rooms, Rousay and Egilsay, have been named for two of the islands in a small trio. Known as the “Egypt of the North”, Rousay has over 150 archaeological sites and is home to the “most important mile of history in Scotland”, a stretch of beach from the 5,000 year-old tomb, Midhowe Broch to Westness. Rousay’s neighbour Egilsay, was a Scottish power base from the Iron Age until the 19th century and has an incredibly preserved 12th century Norse church. The small island of Flotta was a vital military base in both World Wars and has no shortage of incredible war stories, as well as one of the best 360 panoramic views in Orkney, overlooking the Scapa Flow.
The Westray room is named after an island, famous for having the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world. A quick 2 minute flight carried many Islanders, from Westray to Papa Westray, though the official record flight time was 53 seconds! The passengers were mostly teachers and students, heading to Papa Westray to study the 60 archaeological sites found there, though it became a popular tourist attraction too.
The Shapinsay room is named for an island with one of the most unusual and stunning luxury retreats in Scotland, Balfour Castle, as well as being home to a well-preserved Iron Age site, built by the Pictish people, called Burroughston Broch. Finally, we think Fara feels like appropriate name for a wee double room at the Dunstane Houses, being a tiny island in the Scapa Flow between Flotta and Hoy, which had been uninhabited since the 1960’s.
These are just the names of the 17 bedrooms that have had an incredible refurbishment at the start of this year. Each room comes with luxurious new bathrooms, some as we’ve mentioned have quirky freestanding baths in the rooms. The original Georgian features are complemented by modern furnishings, restful colours and fabrics with a nod to our Orkney heritage and a fully stocked mini bar inspired by Scotland.
So connect your smartphone to the radio in your room and enjoy your own music as you wait for your room service order. Really there’s no reason to leave your room when you’re here – except maybe to experience our incredible new bar, or maybe to explore the historic city of Edinburgh. Ok, so there is plenty to leave your luxury room for, so go out on the town safe in the knowledge that your comfy bed is waiting for your return and we’ll have breakfast sorted for you in the morning.