WE MADE our break about noon, when our grown-up daughters were still in their beds, unaware that when they would emerge lunch would not be served.
Travelling from Glasgow, it was about 4pm when we arrived at 24 Royal Terrace, a new hotel at the foot of Calton Hill on a street once known as Whisky Row, due to the number of spirits merchants who lived there when it was first built.
The hotel is the brainchild of entrepreneur Alan Campbell, who bought the former Ailsa Craig Hotel and refurbished it at a cost of about £1 million, purposefully to share his art collection with a wider audience.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Decidedly boutique. When we arrive, passing a canvas by Nicky Hoberman in the black and white tiled vestibule, we are welcomed by manager Stephen Brennan and assistant manager Stewart Adam, who shows us to our room, inviting us to share a half-bottle of the house champagne with tapas in rt’s bar on the ground floor. The stairwell is illuminated by a pitched window and subtle lighting concealed in the picture rails. As we climb the red-carpeted stairs we pass paintings by Sir Robin Philipson, John Bratby and Steven Campbell and a dozen others as well as Australian aboriginal artworks.
We are staying on the top floor, in a deluxe double room. There are 16 rooms over five floors which range from spacious apartments for four with private kitchen to single rooms. Each high-ceilinged newly decorated room is en suite, has internet-streaming on its hi-tech TVs, and is decorated in silvered-patterned feature wallpaper, purple raw silk headboards, and art nouveau style vanity mirrors and lampshades. Damask Austrian blinds adorn the refurbished sash windows. The en suites have overhead walk-in showers, and are tiled throughout, with frosted glass sliding doors.
WINING AND DINING
Continental breakfasts are available from 6am, with a full breakfast menu from 8am in rt’s diner, open to guests and visitors. Prices are moderate, the food delicious and well prepared. You also have the opportunity to sit in a room with a dozen or so works of art, my favourite being a small canvas by Peter Howson of a hardman’s head titled Malky. Coffees, teas and pastries are also available, as well as full Scottish breakfast with Stornoway black pudding and Crombie’s sausages from £9. Or you can enjoy a coffee or tea with brioche, scone or pastry from £3 from 10am till noon. After noon, hot and cold sandwiches are available from £7, while other lunch options include deli boards from £10. Between 2pm and 5pm every day, rt’s goes into overdrive with The Royal, smoked salmon sandwiches, followed by fruit scones with preserves and clotted cream, fancies and macaroons. 24 Royal Terrace has a tie-up with the East India Company which provides teas and speciality coffees. Deli boards and cheese boards are available from 5pm until late. The bar serves a range of wines, spirits and bottle beers, with Innis & Gunn ale on draught at £4 a pint. For the whisky connoisseur, there is a range of malts to savour, including such rarities as Bowmore SMWS 3.4, Auchentoshan 1965 Official Distillery Archive, aged 31 years, to name but two of several dozen.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
Anything that required us to walk down the elegant, red-carpeted stairwell to the lobby, allowing us to get up close to the spectacular artworks that deck the walls of 24 Royal Terrace, was a pleasure. Similarly sitting in rt’s bar eye-to-eye with magnificent artworks was entrancing. The hotel is perfectly situated for exploring Edinburgh at night, provides a sedate and beautiful place to relax and would be the perfect base for anyone with a love of art coming to Edinburgh for the festivals.
A beautiful hotel which combines luxury with fine taste. If Peter Howson’s Malky could speak, he might describe 24 Royal Terrace in one word... Quality.
• A one night B&B stay costs: executive single, £90 per room; double deluxe, £180 per room (two sharing); feature deluxe, £250 per room (two sharing); junior suite, £220 per room (four sharing); executive apartment, £280 per apartment with private kitchen and living area (four sharing). 24 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5AH (0131-297 2424, www.24royalterrace.com)