Travel: The Sun Inn, Dalkeith
‘OMG, they’ve got GHDs,” coos the girlfriend, delighted. There was me thinking that the huge copper bath in the middle of the bedroom, or perhaps the stylish modern take on a four-poster bed, would be the feature most likely to impress a young lady.
But no, apparently it’s the availability of a particular brand of hair straighteners – or are they curlers? Who cares, I guess the mark of a good boutique hotel is that they do that kind of research so you don’t have to.
There are plenty of details at The Sun Inn to be impressed by, although it is perhaps best known for its food. Since a renovation in 2008, owners the Minto family have picked up a number of awards, including Scottish Gastropub of the Year and AA Pub of Year. Now there are plans to increase the number of rooms, as well as adding a bar area for those who miss The Sun’s previous incarnation.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Definitely boutique, although it can be a little bit coy about it. The building is unassuming and, with its location on a main road just outside Edinburgh, could easily be taken for your common-or-garden coaching inn turned pub with rooms. A look inside soon gives the game away – the refurbishment has given period features such as fireplaces and beams a new lease of life along with stylish wooden floors and luxuriant wallpaper.
The signature suite is well worth seeking out because that bath really is a thing of beauty. Its sweeping curves of burnished copper provide a centrepiece in keeping with the clever blend of old pub and urban chic that can be seen throughout the building – and it’s comfy too. I immediately made some time in the evening’s schedule to luxuriate in it. The king-size bed seems to be made of reclaimed timber, and there’s a 50-inch TV built into matching wooden features on the wall. I’m told the hair straighteners are quite good, too.
WINING AND DINING
I’m not sure if The Sun’s management is being coy again, or if head chef Ian Minto just enjoys surprising his customers, but a glance at the menu leaves you feeling that you are in for decent pub grub, little more. What comes out of the kitchen is a good few notches better than that: modern takes on British classics presented in a fine dining style. Our meaty mains were typical; the pork and lamb each cooked in three different ways and dotted about the plate with respective garnishes. The portions were considerably bigger than your average fine dining restaurant though – neither of us could manage a dessert.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
A breakfast that also combines the twin virtues of size and style, then perhaps a walk in the wooded grounds near the banks of the River Esk.
The Sun could be used as a base from which to explore Edinburgh – it’s only a few miles from the city and is even on a bus route. Alternatively, those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle have the countryside of the Lothians and Borders to choose from. The National Trust Garden at Eskbank and the Rosslyn Chapel (yes, of Da Vinci Code fame) are among the closest attractions.
Power showers (even in the suite with the bath) and a stock of exclusive toiletries from Purdies of Argyll. There are Midweek deals available on lunch and early bird menus.
• The Sun Inn, Lothianbridge, Dalkeith EH22 4TR (0131-663 2456, thesuninnedinburgh.co.uk)
Bedrooms start from £75 B&B for single occupancy or £95 for a double. Dining: à la carte prices start from £6 for starters and £13 for mains. There is an early bird menu Mon-Fri 12-2pm and 6-7pm with 2 courses for £11 and 3 courses for £14. Sunday lunches and dinner, noon-7pm – 2 courses for £15 and 3 courses for £18. High tea, Monday-Friday from 2.30pm-5.30pm, £12.95 pp