The Bothy Bar is part of the Albert Hotel, located on Mounthoolie Road, near the harbour of Kirkwall. The Bothy Bar is the public bar.
The first time I visited was for an evening pint with my dad. It was the evening of a bank holiday Monday, but even taking into account the bank holiday we were surprised at how busy it was. Most tables were occupied, and there were several people propping up the bar.
The atmosphere was pleasant, lively but not raucous. Within seconds of walking through the door, while I was surveying the place, my dad was spotted for a tourist and directed to a local ale – which was exactly what he wanted!
There was a tv showing sport, but with the sound off – there was music playing. I don’t think it was radio and I didn’t notice a jukebox. I was happy with the tunes we heard, which included Journey and Guns n’Roses.
The decor is nothing fancy, but there is a certain charm. There are some old beams in the ceiling, and some booths separated from the main area by old wooden partitions. The bar is a mix of charm and functionality: given how busy it was when we were there, we thought it could get very busy on a Saturday night, so the sparse main space of the bar is perhaps necessary to allow large crowds with minimal clean up work.
Drinks on offer include the standard pub fare; I had a very pleasant pint of Tennents lager. Cider on draught was Strongbow. My dad went for Raven ale, and he was absolutely delighted with it. If he hadn’t had to drive afterwards I might never have got him to leave. Also on offer were Orcadian malt whiskies, the famous Highland Park and lesser known Scapa, along with mainland Scottish malts.
We visited again the following day, late afternoon around 5pm, this time with my mum as well. It was noticeably quieter at that time of day, but still with a good number of people in, so that we didn’t feel conspicuous sitting in an empty bar. My mum had a ginger beer and lime with which she was happy – it can sometimes go remarkably wrong. I stuck to the Tennents and my dad sampled another cask ale, which he enjoyed but it wasn’t as good as the Raven.
Prior to our first visit we had stuck our heads into a few places, some a lot smarter, and I’m glad we chose the Bothy. Good drinks, good atmosphere and frequented by plenty of locals – always a selling point when there are plenty of pubs and bars to choose from.
There are bar meals on offer, but the menu is not extensive – a couple of starters, toasties, one meat main course, one veggie and one salad, and a pudding. The main food business of the hotel will be in the lounge bar, which has a much more extensive menu.