Drive -- or walk, or cycle, bless you -- from the southernmost point of England to the northernmost point of Scotland, and you used to be disappointed. Land's End in Cornwall in the southwest has places to stay, eat, view. John O'Groats, however, at the northeast, had only a virtually abandoned 1875 hotel, empty since the 1990's. Find also a trailer park and souvenir place. Those who made the journey as we did were disappointed. End-to-Enders had to go back the way we came for lodgings.
We can all go back. The Inn has been restored and improved, with character and low-key style, according to the gist of a fine article in the Financial Times, 9a/21-22, 2013 at p.9, Travel: A fresh start for the end of the world.
So: Take any circuitous, arbitrary route to John O'Groats now, and be disappointed no more. John O'Groats is home to only some 300+ stalwart residents, and now it has an Inn again. The Inn at John O'Groats.
The name derives from the 1496 Jan de Groot, an entrepreur who established the first ferry to Orkney and charged a groat for the journey. He was awarded land for his house, from the Earl of Caithness. Jan built an octagonal house, says Financial Times, because his eight sons were quarrelsome and each needed his own entrance. The house is gone, but the octagon echoes on in the tower of the new Inn. Again, we were at John O'Groats before the new Inn, but we are happy to believe the Financial Times. See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/f801aad0-2102-11e3-a92a-00144feab7de.html#slide0