Cat Thomson discovers Paul Tamburrini at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, Edinburgh.
A surprisingly quiet location, with Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park nearby, the Macdonald Hotel Edinburgh is well worth discovering. However, an opportunity to sample top-notch dining, courtesy of an award-winning chef, really got our hearts racing. Who doesn’t enjoy being treated like royalty?
Budget or boutique?
It’s a grown-up, stylish, four-star hotel offering visitors a perfect base to explore the delights of the capital, without breaking the bank.
With 157 bedrooms, it feels almost palatial but not over the top. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is just around the corner, so you never know, the Queen might just pop round for a cuppa. Luckily your room has a kettle and a ready supply of Walkers Shortbread for any unexpected guests.
We stayed in a spacious classic room which had a marble floored en-suite, ample wardrobe storage, a desk and a very comfortable bed. The décor was traditional with an accent red picked out in two plaid armchairs and a throw. Wall-mounted TV and free wifi tick all the practical boxes and there was even a secure safe for my tiara.
Wining and dining
You would be foolish not to spoil yourself, eating at Paul Tamburrini’s Bistro Delux on site. The chef/director has previously worked at The Honours brasserie, One Devonshire Gardens and Restaurant Martin Wishart. He creates divine dishes full of seasonal produce with a French twist. I warmly recommend sampling the food even if you are not a hotel guest.
The taster menu came with perfectly paired wines. Highlights included, chewy, homemade sourdough bread and gin and tonic oyster served with a frothy cylinder of lemongrass velouté. This was followed by sautéed foie gras with mango purée, then Gigha halibut with Grenobloise sauce and loin of lamb with rich aubergine miso, all simply sublime. Meanwhile, my vegetarian menu was spontaneously created and included watercress soup with sous vide cooked egg and tiny matchsticks of black truffle, followed by a delicate beetroot salad featuring veg jelly with flavoursome Sainte-Maure cheese and nuts to add crunch. Next was caramelised cauliflower and fennel dosed with flavoursome curry oil, then a tangle of tasty tagliatelle in truffle oil with asparagus and thin truffle sticks scattered on top.
The showstopper dessert, Key lime pie, arrived next with wafer-thin shards of lime zest-flaked meringues, which defied gravity. Lastly came ragged shavings of a Swiss, Tête de Moine cheese, which were served with thin slices of moreish walnut bread. Our good-natured battle of the dishes was declared a draw, with everyone winning – especially after experiencing first class service and attention to detail throughout.
Worth getting out of bed for
You can have a nosey at the neighbour’s place, aka her maj’s hoose over the way. But why not also visit the Museum of Edinburgh on the Royal Mile? It’s a quirky hidden gem, crammed full of oddities from the city’s past. They recently discovered handwritten documents signed by Mary, Queen of Scots, dating from 1553 to 1567, that had been lost, hidden in a storeroom. In Edinburgh you simply can’t be bored, and handily most of the city’s major visitor attractions are within easy walking distance.
A nice touch are the Elemis white lotus and lime products in the bathroom, ensuring you will always smell divine. There is also a pool, sauna and steam room in the Vital health gym suite, with Elemis spa treatments available so you can make the most of being pampered.
We had a sensational night and “Hey! Mr Tamburrini Man, you can cook a storm for me” anytime (apologies to Bob Dylan).
Rooms start from £105 a night, including breakfast.
Dinner: Prix Fixe Menu – 2 courses £17.50 / 3 courses £21.50. Simply Done Menu – 2 courses £21 / 3 courses £25. A La Carte Menu – main courses range from £18 to £60. Bar Menu – main courses range from £11 to £16
Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, 81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AU (0131-550 4500 https://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/scotland/edinburgh/macdonald-holyrood-hotel)