Do not disturb: Wallace’s Arthouse, Edinburgh
JUST north of Edinburgh’s bustling city centre lies Wallace’s Arthouse Scotland, a boutique B&B that’s bursting with character. The man at the helm is Wallace Shaw, a charismatic Scot who spent his former years travelling the world as designer director for fashion heavyweights Pringle of Scotland and Donna Karan.
Wallace’s spacious apartment is on the top floor of Leith Assembly Rooms, a grand, imposing building dating back to the 19th century. In its early days, it was at the centre of a thriving community, acting as an exchange, events venue and hotel – and with his guesthouse, Wallace is proudly continuing a long-standing tradition.
Inside, Wallace’s story is told through the artefacts that adorn every wall and surface, from old-fashioned telephones and antique shop finds to an iconic Wassily chair and stacks of art books. With a keen eye for aesthetics, Wallace has spent the last few years restyling the interiors, aiming to “preserve a 19th-century essence with a flavour of 21st-century modern minimalism”. n
WINING AND DINING? Each morning there are new treats and surprises, from traditional Scottish breads to freshly baked croissants and potato breads, not to mention an array of chutneys, jams, juices and fruits. For evening meals, the Arthouse is within walking distance of plenty of great pubs and restaurants. The King’s Wark on The Shore is full of friendly locals, a cosy place to enjoy a hearty meal of delicious seafood chowder or butternut squash risotto. And there’s no shortage of seafood restaurants; try Fishers or The Ship on the Shore for the best fish and chips.
ROOM SERVICE? The bedrooms are white and airy, with one or two intriguing ornaments dotted around. Original sash windows allow the light to pour in and cosy sheepskin rugs are laid over rustic wooden floorboards, contrasting against a stark, minimalist pod in the corner, which houses the ensuite bathroom. All the usual mod cons are available including wifi, tea making facilities, a mini fridge and hairdryer.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? The smell of fresh coffee wafting down the hallway from the kitchen is enough to get you up in the morning, and with so much to explore, you’ll be glad of an early start. Visit Portobello beach for a brisk walk that is guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away. This sweeping stretch of coastline is lined with rugged sand dunes, dramatic rock formations and breathtaking sea views and it’s just half an hour’s drive along the coast. Alternatively, stroll along the Water of Leith walkway, which runs from Leith to the heart of old Edinburgh, passing by the Museum of Modern Art and Dean Village.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? With just two double rooms, it feels as though you’re staying in a home rather than a hotel. No other B&B can compete in terms of personality, and everywhere you look there are eccentric quirks: flirtatious postcards of men in kilts and intriguing works of art. Wallace’s welcome booklet sheds a little light on his unique character and attention for detail: “I love sharing the delights and oddities of my native land with my fascinating guests – as they all are to me – provided they let me tell them my silly stories.”
LITTLE EXTRAS? The real bonus of staying here is Wallace’s company. During my stay, many a story was regaled over a bottle of wine in the evenings; tales from Wallace’s design career in the 1960s at Pringle’s Hawick factory, to his adventures around the world living in New York, Hong Kong and Italy, which led him to brush shoulders with some of the biggest names in showbiz, including Liza Minnelli and Barbra ‘Babs’ Streisand to name a few. His local knowledge and insider tips are invaluable, and he makes it his business to recommend the best restaurants, exhibitions and performances.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? A stay at the Arthouse is fun, inviting and endlessly enriched by Wallace’s generous hospitality and warmth.
£115 per night for a double room and continental breakfast. Wallace’s Arthouse Scotland, 41/4 Constitution Street, Edinburgh (07941 343714, www.wallacearthousescotland.com
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
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