Welcome to Fair Isle Lodge Shetland

Fair Isle Lodge Shetland accommodation guide - everything you need to know before visiting Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Lodge Shetland Scotland. Room types, location, services, activities, facilities and information on Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Lodge. Whether you are going for a holiday or a business trip to Shetland in Scotland read all the accommodation information about Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Lodge.

Enjoy the spectacular cliff and coastal scenery, wild flowers, dramatic seabird colonies and a wealth of spring and autumn migrants. Fair Isle is Britain’s most remote inhabited island, situated 25 miles south of Shetland and 25 miles north of Orkney. During the Summer it is easily accessible daily by boat or by plane.

Email Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Lodge enquiries & reservations: bookscotland@madbookings.com  

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Fair Isle Shetland

Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Lodge offers comfortable single, double, twin and family accommodation. Most rooms are first-floor, spacious with en-suite toilet and shower. There are also bathrooms close by. There is a DDA Compliant en-suite bedroom situated downstairs.

There is also an Interpretative Room where information panels and leaflets on all aspects of Fair Isle are on display from its famous Natural History to its equally famous Knitwear and other crafts; from Archaeology to Geology and Social History. This is also where, in the evenings, FIBO Staff deliver illustrated talks to all guests who wish to attend. Parts of the building are Wi-fi internet enabled and there is also a computer for guest use in the Interpretative Room.

Facilities available in the new observatory:

*En-suite Bedrooms
*Disabled Access Bedroom
*Large dual aspect Lounge – Bar
*Interpretative Room
*Sociable dual aspect Dining Room
*Extensive Natural History Library
*E-mail and Internet Access
*Guest Laundry Room
*Boot/Drying Room
*Ringing Demonstration Room
*Gift Shop
*Tuck Shop
*24 hr Tea & Coffee Facilities
*Gardens & Plantation
*Wader Pools

As you return from enjoying a day of birdwatching, walking, photography, craft-visiting or relaxing in the fresh sea air of Fair Isle, a heated Boot Room awaits for your outdoor wear. You can then retire to the comfortable lounge for coffee or purchase a drink from the bar and enjoy the superb views out to Buness and the sea or to the picturesque harbour from the full height windows around the room. Maybe you’d want to keep a watchful eye on the Observatory Plantation, the garden or the new wader pools for a rare bird? Perhaps you may like to browse the extensive Natural History library or obtain a good novel to read prior to your meal or chat to fellow guests about their day. The dining room – again with large windows offering fantastic views to Sheep Craig – is a very sociable place where guests and staff all converse and eat together at large tables, enjoying sumptuous helpings of delicious home-cooked meals with freshly-baked bread and home bakes. After your evening meal there is ample time, during the long summer days, for a relaxing walk to North Lighthouse with its breathtaking cliffs and views to Shetland Mainland and Foula. Or perhaps just to sit on Buness amid the Puffins for an hour or two.

All guests are invited at 9.30pm to join the bird staff for Bird Log whilst enjoying more home-bakes and cocoa before retiring to bed or staying at the bar awhile for some good banter.


Fair Isle, 3.5 miles long by 1.5 miles wide, is Britain's most isolated inhabited island. It can be divided geographically into two parts: the higher moorland areas and cliffs in the north, with the flatter, more sheltered and fertile land in the south. All crofting land is in the south, where sheep (farmed for meat and wool) are the mainstay of most crofts, supplemented in some cases by chickens and cows. Crops grown are severely limited by environmental conditions - soil and climate - and are dominated by oats, turnips and potatoes. More exotic vegetables and flowers are grown under glass. Hay is cut by traditional methods on most crofts - silage is preferred on one or two - but in general, the degree of mechanisation on the island crofts is still limited. Hill sheep are farmed in a co-operative system, with all the sheep being rounded up in summer (for shearing) and autumn (for division of lambs). Although rich, the seas around Fair Isle are rough, restricting the number of fishing trips. Most fish caught is for consumption on the island, although crabs and lobsters caught during the summer, are sold to customers on mainland Shetland.

The current population size of Fair Isle is about 70, including children attending secondary school in Lerwick. Island life is still based around the traditional crofting activities described above, but is supplemented in most cases by income from other sources. Many islanders are involved in craftwork activities, utilising both local products (for example spinning and knitting the local wool) and non-local materials (particularly wood, used for example in boat building and making chairs and spinning wheels).

Employment is also provided through the island mail-boat: the Good Shepherd IV, which is owned and maintained by Shetlands Islands Council. The boat is based on Fair Isle and has a crew of four. The boat brings the vast majority of goods onto the island, and sails once a week to Shetland in the winter months, and three times a week during the summer. The air service provides five to seven flights per week to Shetland and this, together with boat journeys, means that communication with the outside world is very good. Partly as a result of these good transport links, tourism is an increasingly important source of income on the island, not only for the Bird Observatory, but also for bed and breakfast establishments run by islanders. Other services provided on the island include a resident district nurse, a shop and post office, and a small building/construction company. Maintenance and provision of services such as water, road repair, fire and coastguard, provides part-time employment for local people, with external funding.

The small primary school caters for a small number of children, but provides a wide range of lessons with several part time specialist teachers supporting the resident head-teacher, including the Observatory’s ranger. The modern and well-equipped community hall, adjacent to the school, provides an important focus for social activities, from sport to the traditional Fair Isle dances.

Island Designations and Protection

FIMETI (Fair Isle Marine Environment & Tourism Initiative) was set up in 1995 to provide adequate protection for the marine environment surrounding Fair Isle. It was set up in view of its environmental and cultural values to the benefit of the island, its inhabitants and also tourists. It is a rural challenge project, grant-aided by the Scottish Office with matching funding from the National Trust for Scotland.

Fair Isle’s seabirds are the main reason why much of the island (the cliffs and hill area) enjoys a Special Protection Area status. This was granted in 1994, thus upgrading the former Site of Special Scientific Interest status, designated in 1984. The seabird populations on Fair Isle are perhaps without equal for both population density and species diversity in Europe, for such a small land area. Another important bird species, the Fair Isle Wren (a unique island sub-species, Troglodytes troglodytes fridarensis) inhabits the cliffs too. At the moment, strenuous efforts are being made to secure a marine protection area around Fair Isle so that both marine and terrestrial habitats, on which the seabirds depend equally, are conserved.

In addition, Fair Isle is part of the Shetland National Scenic Area, and the island has been awarded a European Diploma by the Council of Europe “aesthetically because of the beauty of the landscape; culturally because of the existence of a prosperous farming community….., and scientifically because the island is an important breeding site for seabird populations and a crossroads for certain migratory species”.