Sebay Mill in the Press

Sebay Mill Orkney Self Catering - bridgeSheena and Billy McEwen with their 'Special Achievement Award' at Sebay MillWinners of the VisitScotland Special Achievements Award

Orkney Today - Special Achievement award
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The Oxford Times - My Own Love, Jennifer Hough.
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The Sunday Times

Discover the rich history and ancient mythology of Orkney in five-star luxury, writes Rhiannon Batten

There is one very persuasive reason for coming here: Orkney's only five-star self-catering property is close by.

Set roughly halfway between the airport and the Gloup, Sebay Mill looks out over picturesque march and farmland towards the Bay of Suckquoy. Originally built around 1860 to grind corn but abandoned in 1953, it was bought by the farmers Bill & Sheena McEwen in 2000. Over the following three years, they carefully restored and upgraded it, transforming the mill into a collection of Orkney's poshest self-catering apartments.

The millstone at Sebay Mill OrkneySebay Mill Orkney Self Catering - spiral staircaseSurrounded by landscaped garden and the cleared mill burn, the inside is a triumph of cosy, modern comfort. A touch Scandinavian in style, everything has been designed to suit the environment. The chill is kept out with doors that fit snugly, big strong windows and powerful central heating. Like other five-star properties, there isn't much you won't find here, from dishwashers to cafetieres. In fact Sebay Mill is run so precisely that all the clocks in the building, even on the microwaves, tell the right time.

But the real selling point is the light, the quality is one of the first things you notice on Orkney. Much of the local accommodation shuts you away in small, dark rooms, but here light is the main feature. Pale wood, glass block walls and vast windows looking out over sky and fields really make the most of the long summer days and high-tech mood lighting eases the winter gloom.

There's no forgetting where you are, though. When guests arrive, it is to the sound of a local band drifting out from the CD. You are also presented with a hamper of Orkney goodies, from fresh milk and Orkney oatcakes to a mini bottle of Highland Park whisky.

Tucked among the apartment's small library was a copy of the Orkeyinga Saga. As I climbed onto the bath to start the most mammoth of the island's stories after my walk, there was no casting off of seal skins Just one of Sebay Mill's smart white dressing gowns.

A burn runs through the garden at Sebay MillThe Press and Journal

An ambitious project to turn a derelict Orkney mill into world class accommodation for tourists was rewarded yesterday with the award of five star status.

Sebay Mill is the only Orkney self catering accommodation to be given a five star grading by the national tourism agency VisitScotland.

Of 7,303 self-catering properties across Scotland to be graded by the agency, just 223 enjoy the same top-ranking status.

A VisitScotland spokesperson said yesterday that it was remarkable that the Orkney project should be ranked five-star after only its first inspection.

"It's particularly impressive given that this is the owners first venture into the tourism market," the spokesperson said.

"This is recognition that they are providing world class accommodation. They fully deserve five-star status for all the hard work they've put in to ensure that visitors enjoy a stay that's warm, welcoming and hospitable.

The Orcadian

The refurbished ruins of Sebay Mill in Tankerness have attracted a world class grading by VisitScotland - the first self catering accommodation north of Ardgay in Sutherland to be awarded five-star status.

Maureen Brown, of Orkney Tourist Board, said they were delighted with the exceptional award, which could only add to Orkney's growing reputation as a visitor attraction.

"We are delighted for Billy because he has put such a lot of effort and financial support into the project. It is great that he has got the award that he deserves," she said.