Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Accommodation and meals

We regret that due to a fire on 10th March 2019, we are unable to take bookings for the foreseeable future.

The Observatory offers 3-star, full-board accommodation to a high standard. We have a choice of single, double, twin and family en-suite rooms, with one disabled-access room on the ground floor - many with spectacular views. Our accommodation rates include all meals (see below). All rooms have en-suite shower and toilet facilities and there are two extra, general-use bathrooms with toilets and hairdryers. Towels, bed linen and a few basic toiletries are provided.

The Observatory with Sheep Rock, 2016. © Ian Andrews

Observatory facilities and services are available to both guests and visitors. Please note there may be a small charge/request donation for some services. All Ranger Service activities are free of charge.


Meals are provided on a set menu, set time basis (cooked or cold breakfast, hot lunch, evening meal, late hot chocolate and home bakes). Guests and staff, and their children, eat together, providing a good opportunity to discuss the day or find out more about living and working on the isle, with meal times set to fit the working routine of the Observatory. A packed lunch option is available if ordered the previous day. Note that on a Sunday there is a continental breakfast and the main meal is at midday.

Meals are available to non-residents and must be booked in advance (at least 24 hrs where possible): breakfast £11 at 08:30, lunch £13 at 13:00 dinner £16 at 18:30 (note that times can vary but will always be posted on the whiteboard in the lounge).

Our catering staff will endeavour so far as is reasonably practicable to accommodate special diets such as for example vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free but we require to be notified of this in advance at the time of your booking.

Due to our remote location, the constraints on the catering operation and the limitations on access to medical care in the event of an emergency, the Observatory is regretfully unable to accept guests with serious contact allergies or those whose medical conditions may be triggered at low levels of exposure.

Lounge and bar

Our comfortable, bright and spacious lounge has great views of Sheep Rock, the Haven and of course the Observatory garden (for birding in comfort!). It is a place to relax, socialise and celebrate.

  • Free internet access for guests; a small charge applies to non-guests.
  • Large-scale wall map of the island
  • Whiteboard showing meal times, bird news, weather forecast and other useful information
  • Tea and coffee facilities (free to guests) and tuck shop
  • Well-stocked 'Good Shepherd bar' with range of Shetland and Orkney ales, wines, spirits and soft drinks. Open from 5.45 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Extensive natural history library and selection of novels available
  • Occasional social events with local entertainment
  • Enjoy the TV-free experience!

Visitor Centre

  • Range of displays relating to the work of the Observatory and wildlife of the island
  • Self-guiding leaflets to help you make the most of your visit
  • Shetland Visitor Information Point providing tourist information for Fair Isle and Shetland
  • Computer with web access available (free for guests; there is a small charge for non-guests)
  • Venue for regular evening talks.

Boot room

There is a 'boot room' for outdoor clothes and footwear (remember to bring some indoor shoes/slippers!)

Mobile phone coverage

Mobile phone coverage on the island is generally good, but patchy inside the Observatory itself. It is limited to Vodafone (with Mobile by Sainsbury's and Talkmobile) and O2 (with Tesco Mobile). Vodaphone has the best coverage, with O2 also reasonable. Note that EE and Orange mobiles will not get a signal on the island. You may like to consider buying a cheap Vodafone pay-as-you-go SIM card to bring with you as SIM cards aren't available on the island. There is no payphone in the Observatory.

Gift shop

A range of cards, postcards, books, music, souvenirs, photographs and artwork, clothing and Fair Isle Knitwear are on offer. Also see our online shop ...


Washing machine and drying racks available. £4.50 charge for use, washing powder provided.


FIBO regrets that it cannot accommodate dogs (except assistance dogs).


Amongst various activities available, visitors can see birds being ringed, take part in guided walks and the evening bird log and listen to talks. Learn more about activities at the Observatory and elsewhere on the island.

Visiting us

Day visitors, and those staying elsewhere on the island, are welcome to make use of the Observatory facilities and participate in activities offered by the Observatory whilst they are on the island.

Although we do not have set opening hours at the Observatory, we ask visitors to be mindful that staff and guest meals are usually served at 8.30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and there may therefore be no-one around to assist you at these times.

Visitor showers & toilets

Shower and toilet facilities are available for non-residents to use. There is a £6 charge for showers (towel and soap provided), £3 with own towel.