the space

Fabulous stay on Rousay... and the piano (Apr 20, 2017) We spent two fabulous weeks at The Space in August 2016. We were actually planning on going to the Outer Hebrides, but once I had shown the photo of the main hall with the piano to my son there was no question - we were going to Rousay. The reality of the hall and the piano was every bit as good as the photos suggest. My family are enthusiast amateur musicians, so we brought a variety of instruments and played together every day. It was like having your own private concert hall - the children loved the way their saxophone & flute sounded in there. The conversion of the rest of the building is every bit as good as the main hall, with all sorts of lovely little details. The train carriage was particularly popular with all the family. And I haven't said anything about Rousay yet... I had been to Orkney twice before, but never to Rousay. It's a small but really very interesting island. Once the last ferry has left, it's blissfully quiet. Our original plan was to spend half the days on Rousay and half doing the sights on the mainland. In the end we enjoyed the Rousay days more than the mainland days - the last ferry is not particularly late, even in the summer, so you've always got the pressure of getting back to Tingwall in time. So as a base for exploring Orkney, it's not great - far better to go an savour the peace and quiet of Rousay (although Egilsay and Wyre are particularly enjoyable trips, even if only for a couple of hours).

Richard (Oxford)

Quirky, musical magic (Jun 4, 2018) The Space is a wonderfully quirky and relaxing place to enjoy the tranquility and friendliness of Rousay. Our teenagers loved the feeling of freedom The Space gave them with the chance to play the wonderful piano and their guitars in the main hall which felt like a performance space. We were treated to several concerts as a result. The railway carriage was a fabulous, cosy space to chat along with the comfy lounge area in the kitchen and red hall. The beach was a calm place to relax early morning or into the evening with the daylight hours being so long. The kayaks also got good use in the relatively safe, calm waters with inquisitive seals visiting. The outside areas could do with a bit of tidying and a couple of rooms felt a little damp but nothing to detract from the wonderful place with homemade jam in the welcome pack. Always a winner for me!

Rachel (Bourne)

A Unique Place. Thoroughly Enjoyable (Jul 16, 2018) My family spent 4 days at The Space and it was a real highlight of our trip to Scotland. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I booked so I thought it might be useful to spend time in this review on the layout of the property. In brief, it was a very comfortable stay with some unique characteristics. The living space is really thekitchen. It is fairly spacious and includes a sitting area with a TV plus a separate eating area. It was comfortable for the 5 of us (a single family), might be a bit close for a larger group. There is also the whole Kirk, which is huge, but not really set up as a living area. A small part of the Kirk has been set up with an old train carriage including a TV and audio system. This is quirky but small and not that practical (we didn’t use it). There are 4 bedrooms, 2 off the kitchen area and 2 upstairs. 3 of the bedrooms have nice ensuite baths and there is a 4th bath located close to the bedroom without an ensuite. All the baths have showers and some have tubs. One of the bedrooms has bunk beds, the others have doubles. The Kirk has a beautiful concert grand piano. The acoustics are wonderful and my kids, two of whom play at a fairly advanced level, appreciated being able to play on this piano the likes of which they don’t usually have the opportunity. There are some other wind and brass instruments made available for guests. There is a bit of a sense of the property being a “work in progress” and given its nature it may always be one. It could perhaps use a bit of tidying outside. It didn’t bother us but some might be put off. The pantry was well stocked, which was nice given the remoteness. We wouldn’t have starved if we’d shown up without groceries, not that you would want to do that. The only store on the island (which we did not go to) has very limited hours I am told. The Taversoe is an excellent restaurant however. When we arrived I had asked if they had a BBQ (grill) and they didn't but, it being Rousay, one was located somewhere on the island and left on the property the next day.

James (Canada)

"A month in the Space on Rousay" (August 16th 2016). We have stayed in the Space from mid July till mid August. So 4 weeks. And a great 4 weeks. Of course you have to consider the weather (rain, winds but also amazing sunny days and on a clear day you can see forever). The Space itself is a great location, just for a holiday, if you are a party of 2, 3 or 4 people. It has everything you need for a perfect holiday. The Island grows on you and we have come home totally rested and nearly 'zen' after a month on Rousay. We definitely will come back to Orkney and the Space. And it is also quite perfect for a wheelchair user (if independent). The skies above Rousay are phenomenal, the birds, the sea, even the winds and the rain. The Island itself is a haven of peacefulness and I can recommend iet to everyone who seeks peace and quiet. We really loved it. Also the people on the Island were very friendly and helpful. So I can highly recommend the Space.

Paula (Holland)

"All shades of brilliant. Bring time" (July 18th 2016) This place is an absolute gem. So much attention to detail and creativity went into creating this very unique property. I felt at home the minute I walked through the door and never stopped exploring until I left. From solar panels to kajaks to a wheelchair accessible bathroom, there is literally everything you could ever want. The kitchen comes with a washing machine, a dishwasher, and a massive supply of ingredients, which is very handy if you arrive there on a saturday night the way I did. There were even fresh eggs from the housekeeper's chickens (a brilliant, lovely and very helpful woman called Clare, ask her to make you shortbread!). Then, there's the grand piano in the kirk. You can absolutely knock yourself out in that place creatively without ever bothering a soul. Should you venture out (it'll be hard!), there is plenty on Rousay to explore and you'll find a selection of guides and books and flyers to help you along. The pier is within walking distance, so taking the boat somewhere is always a possibility. I never got round to that. Next time, I'm staying longer and I'll bring along everyone I know, including my parents (if you were to bring elderly people along, it'd probably be a good idea to have a car to get around the island, though convieniently, the doctor's next door), my dog, the band and a bunch of random kids. I can't wait to go again.

Katrin W

"Magical..." (20th June 2016) Much music was made.. A creative continuous delight. Hikes and visits all over the island. As a songwriter, singer, producer of records... 4 new songs were composed here... On the piano, and lightly recorded. We will be back in 2017 to do a whole album. Be here for a full moon... The power is vast.

Lisa Carmen, (musician) Sante Fe, USA

"We want to go back!" (November 14th, 2015) At the end of October we stayed for a week at the space - and we didn't want to go back home. I can't recommend it highly enough - the only drawback is how far away it is. If it were closer, we'd be there every weekend, so maybe it's a good thing it is. There's plenty else to see on the island of Rousay if you're just looking for a break - good walks, ancient monuments, deeply impressive scenery, beaches, seals, local characters and if you're very lucky - puffins! the space has all the facilities you'll need for a self catering holiday and comfortable enough sleeping space for 8-10 people as far as I could see (7 of us were there at the time), and it's attractively decorated throughout to a high standard (and apologies for sounding like an estate agent). Although it functions brilliantly well as a holiday cottage, that's not the primary selling point. The main attraction has to be the old church hall which is now a recording studio/rehearsal space. My son did some acoustic recording there performing pieces on guitar, flute and violin, and the results were outstanding. The natural reverb and overall acoustics are worth the journey alone. the space itself is big enough for dance or theatre workshopping as well. You won't be disappointed!"

Andrew S (Video engineer)

“Peaceful, homely and perfectly suited.” (August 19, 2015) As a party of 6 musicians looking to record, our use of the space was two-fold. We got to appreciate its excellent natural acoustics and expanding musical facilities, but also we were hugely impressed with it as a holiday home. Given the intensive and tiring work involved in recording an album, the wonderful scenery and location was the perfect foil allowing us to relax between studio takes. the rooms were all well equipped and clean so a good night's rest was assured as was a good feed during the day thanks to well-maintained facilities (not to mention a generous array of non-perishable goods laid on by the owners). Likewise the copious bathrooms (1 wet room and 3 en suite) meant nobody was left bursting for a pee. These were all also well stocked with products and clean comfortable linen and towels were in generous supply. The island is tiny and it requires significant adjustment for city-dwellers but I can only emphasise how refreshing this is. One shop, open very rarely during the week. One pub. No chippies. No cafes. No supermarkets. It's a forced isolation that is genuinely highly productive for musicians not to mention extremely therapeutic for holidaymakers. The locals are also nothing but friendly,even if they enjoy a chuckle when you ask if there is a cafe or chip shop. I would strongly recommend taking some time out of any recording to make sure you visit the beaches on the island early in the morning and encounter the numerous seals, otters and wild birds that are not in any hurry to run away. Likewise I would hugely recommend a trip to the various archaeological sites, some older than the pyramids, which are mercifully free of admittance fees or security guards. You can respectfully enter these ancient premises and admire the astounding views the inhabitants of old must have enjoyed. If you are planning on recording the new Blonde on Blonde or writing the next great novel, this is the place.

Chris Cusack (musician)

"Wish I could live there" (August 15th 2015) We had a fantastic fortnight staying at the Space - seven of us arrived by ferry and had a wonderful time enjoying the scenery, silence, wildlife, sites and views - life on Rousay is different to anything I or my family had experienced before. The physical dislocation from mainland UK was the first thing, then everything else followed. the space is wonderful and we couldn't have asked for more. The old Kirk has been sensitively (and quirkily) restored; Rousay has beautiful clear waters, fascinating beaches, cairns and neolithic burial mounds, mainland Orkney is also very interesting with Skara Brae, stone circles and other places that you can imagine are unchanged for hundreds of years. Please visit!

Rod Kersh (Doctor)

"Unique and beautiful island retreat" (July 28th 2015) This is an extraordinary, unique property. Beautifully restored old church with all mod cons, in an idyllic setting right beside the sea. Extremely comfortable for 6. For a party of 8, the small upstairs bedrooms would be quite cramped with 2 people in each, but fine for children or young people. On the other hand there are 4 showers/toilets which is quite a luxury. Rousay is perfect for getting away from it all. Hire a bike at the farm and cycle round the whole island (steep hills, you have to be quite fit). Visit the Mid-Howe broch and chambered cairn, both amongst the most spectacular in Scotland. Wonderful walks, specially at the NW and NE corners of the island. We saw seals and puffins, cormorants and an otter. The house is within easy walking distance of the ferry, so a car is not even essential, although very useful for getting to the shop, which is tiny but has almost everything you might need, even petrol. If the weather is bad, take a trip back to Orkney mainland, where there is a lot to do and see. Tingwall jetty to Kirkwall takes only about 20 minutes by car. One of the best holidays ever!

John Mortimer (musician)

"Relaxing and Inspirational" (July 21st 2015) Stayed 1st to 6th July, will stay longer next time. Intelligent use of recycled materials and fittings gives a unique character - we especially liked the old 1st class railway compartment. Ideal location for exploring Rousay and Mainland, with own beach but were not brave enough to use the kayaks. Relaxed homely feel, particularly in the large family kitchen/lounge/dining area. The building, grounds and views provide an excellent atmosphere for all creative arts. Great for just chilling out and relaxing

Terry Collins (finance manager)

"Watch this Space" (19th April 2015) I had a great time at the space mixing 6 tracks for the poetry band, Little Machine. For clarity of the mix the Neumann speakers really helped to disentangle the mids and for clarity of the spirit there was the view through the beautiful arched windows of the converted kirk to the sea and the isles beyond. Geraldine and Graham have made it a homely place with a big kitchen to serve up the porridge and a comfy bed for a good night’s sleep. If you are in an introspective mood there is the tidy cemetery next door and a whole island to explore but if you get tired of splendid isolation the bright lights and rich cultural history of Kirkwall are a short ferry journey away. Either way, it’s inspiring: Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not I’ll be back!

Steve Halliwell, (Musician/Producer)

"Magical!" (April 1st 2015) The light flooding into the performance area is very inspiring. The quality of that light is unique and very conducive to recording and the creative process. Magical! I hope the people of Orkney and further afield come to enjoy a wonderful resource.

Barbara Dickson (musician)