Travel: Dunstane House Hotel, Edinburgh
AFTER Madonna announced this summer’s Murrayfield gig, the telephone at Dunstane House didn’t stop ringing. Why? It’s just ten minutes from Scotland’s largest stadium and even closer to Haymarket train station, making it ideal for those travelling to the capital for big events.
But there’s more to the hotel than a pre-gig shindig. Built in 1852, it was designed by William Playfair, the architect responsible for so many of Edinburgh’s monumental buildings. The grade B-listed hotel began as a home for the Ross family, responsible for Edinburgh Rock. It became a hotel in 1969, with the current owners, Orcadian couple Shirley and Derek Mowat, taking over in 1998.
A huge refurbishment was completed earlier this year and the look is a grand yet modern country house, with high ceilings and original ornate cornices as well as beautiful fireplaces and sparkling chandeliers. n
WINING AND DINING? The Skerries restaurant takes inspiration from the country’s land and shores for its menu. The evening we dined, there was Loch Duart hot-smoked salmon and blue-shell mussels from the Shetlands, with plenty from the owners’ homeland – including Black Gold Orkney rib-eye and local seafood chowder. However, guests staying on the dinner, bed and breakfast deal could be disappointed by supplements they incur on certain dishes – my small but perfectly formed main of king scallop and green pea risotto, for example, cost an extra £4, making it £22.95, rather than £18.95. Staines bar is small, so fine for a pre-meal drink, and it has a great selection of Scottish bottled beers and nearly 100 malt whiskies.
ROOM SERVICE? Our bedroom – there are 19 in total – was previously a restaurant and, located between the front door and reception, with the garden outside the window, you might think it could be noisy. However it was a beautiful room, decked out with a striking combination of deep red soft furnishings against dark wood, including a four-poster bed and writing desk. The mountain of pillows and cushions provided handy props for watching the large Samsung flat-screen TV on the opposite wall. There’s under-floor heating in the bathroom, which is always welcome, as are the Molton Brown toiletries.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? Book in for a treatment at the hotel’s beauty room, Revive, which has Darphin and Jessica products, while those wanting to stretch their legs can join the Water of Leith walkway nearby. There’s a bus stop right outside the hotel so city-centre retail therapy is easily arranged, and a bus in the opposite direction leads to Edinburgh Zoo.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? A mix of boutique and traditional creates the feel of grand Scottish country house without being fusty. Budget it ain’t.
LITTLE EXTRAS? The staff made us feel very welcome and are a friendly bunch, though not overly so. Traditionalists will be happy to find there are facilities to rustle up tea and coffee in the bedroom.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? I’ve passed the hotel many times, so I’m pleased I finally got to sit in its lovely garden – and the inside doesn’t disappoint either. Double rooms cost from £99 to £169 per night.
4 West Coates, Edinburgh (0131-337 6169, www.dunstanehotels.co.uk)
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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