A child-free night away is a rare thing, so we wanted to make the most of it and not travel too far from home. Freshly opened this year in Aberdeen, Sandman Signature was calling our name. Easily accessible to city residents and teuchters alike, with a restaurant on site, it was the perfect choice for us. If you know Aberdeen, it is a granite mass in the heart of the city at Woolmanhill – a former Robert Gordon University building, which has been beautifully refurbished.
Budget or boutique?
Definitely in the boutique range when it comes to style and service, but it is still an affordable stay. Despite being a large hotel, the Sandman has approached each room differently so there’s no standard one-size-fits-all décor. There’s a range of rooms, from standard to suite, all with a sense of style, and even some self-contained apartment suites.
As well as the amazing décor, what sets Sandman apart from other hotels is the level of customer service. It is part of a Canadian group and the emphasis on relaxed, happy guests is clear.
The lobby, including a wall of curated artworks, reminded us of our travels to Banff in Canada, where the entrance halls were cavernous spaces, inviting you to sit and relax before heading to your room, rather than just spaces to connect the outside with the inside. Sandman Aberdeen’s lobby feels just like this – with plenty of huge seats, magazines and board games, it is a venue in itself.
Our base for the night was a Signature King Room, and we got the pick of the bunch when we were shown through the door to an amazing corner room on the third floor – with four huge windows overlooking the city. The view, we were told, is better in winter when the leaves are off the trees and you can see right into Union Terrace Gardens and over to His Majesty’s.
There’s no bath, but the walk-in shower with exposed brickwork and rainfall showerhead more than makes up for its absence. The room also features a microwave – unusual here maybe, but standard in Canada.
Wining and dining
Aberdeen can have a reputation of taking itself too seriously, especially in more “upmarket” bars and restaurants – the concept of relaxed atmosphere and great food sometimes doesn’t quite work in the city. But inhouse restaurant/bar Chop bucks that trend.
Our server had been well-trained in the North American ways. He was friendly, chatty and seemed genuinely happy to see us. The bar and restaurant are interconnected, and again have a transatlantic feel, creating lots of intimate spaces within one huge one, meaning you never feel exposed. From the bar we chose pre-dinner cocktails (Negroni and an Old Fashioned) before getting stuck into the menu. It’s not fine dining, but good hearty food done well, with the emphasis on meat. Our steak bites to start were sticky, savoury and very moreish. Fish tacos were fresh, herby and zingy; while the signature smoked steak was delicious.
Worth getting out of bed for
Aberdeen is much improved recently, with developments in nearby Dundee meaning it has had to up its game somewhat. If you want to be city-based, a walk round Duthie Park will blow away the cobwebs, or if it’s wet, head to the Maritime Museum down by the harbour. If you fancy a day trip, there’s so much within an hour’s drive, from Balmoral and Royal Deeside to the west, to Stonehaven to the south, or the Buchan coast to the north.
We loved the Tunnock’s teacakes on our hospitality tray, and also the fact that instead of Do Not Disturb doorknob hangers, there’s a light outside each room which can be set to white, red or green according to whether you’re in, out, or want room service.
Sandman has personality, style and class. The staff have been expertly trained and the set-up is geared towards giving guests a relaxed stay with first-class service.
Seven-day advance savers for £79 room-only weekdays, £59 room-only weekends. Sandman Signature Aberdeen, St Andrew Street, Aberdeen AB25 1AD, 01224 945555, www.sandmansignature.co.uk