Hotel Indigo Dundee, hotel review, Scotland on Sunday travel

A former jute mill turned boutique hotel is the perfect place to discover Dundee’s past, present and future

Hotel Indigo has breathed new life into the former jute mill that dates from 1822
Hotel Indigo has breathed new life into the former jute mill that dates from 1822

Dundee, city of design, discovery and digital innovation hasn’t forgotten its jute, jam and journalism past and nowhere is this more evident than in Hotel Indigo, just a stone’s throw from the regenerated waterfront.

The transformation of a former jute mill – the twin Bell Mill and North Mill – with its floodlit iconic bell tower modelled on Santa Maria della Salute Bell Tower in Venice, is an example of what can be done with these cathedrals of industry. Built in 1822 by the Baxter brothers, it was the world’s largest linen manufacturer by the 1870s .

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From the light-filled foyer through the restaurant/bar to the 102 rooms on the floors above, Dundee’s heritage is subtly referenced, with retro Game Boys, jute shuttles and jam jars in the lobby and Grand Theft Auto cheats and Keiller’s logo tiles in the bedrooms, providing the perfect base to re-discover the city’s past, present and future.

A palette of silvers, greys and taupes is studded with zaps of colour from bespoke cushions to wall art

Budget or boutique?

Definitely boutique, with bare brick walls, hardwood timber floors, pendant lighting and a relaxing palette of silvers, greys and taupes that is studded with zaps of zesty colour from bespoke cushions to wall art.

Room service

Modern and comfortable, the rooms feature big, comfy beds covered with covetable lambswool blankets by Duncan of Jordanstone graduate Hilary Grant. There’s a TV, fast wifi, sophisticated multi-mode lighting and wardrobes that conceal a mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, iron, hair dryer, hanging space and robes, with Arran Aromatics toiletries in the sleek en-suite shower room. A second glance registers references to Dundee’s innovative past and present, from the single orange marmalade tile embedded in the shower wall to a copy of the Beano on a shelf. A striking wall hanging by Lauren Li Porter of Graven depicts bottles of limeade, pineapple and red cola from Arbroath firm, Bon Accord, delivering a sugar hit of fizzy nostalgia.

Wining and dining

In the evening we settled into a booth in Daisy Tasker, the hotel’s Scottish bistro (named after a famous Baxter’s employee) for seasonal local produce from the ever-changing menu (anyone with allergies or intolerances need just let them know). My starter of wild mushroom mousse with beetroot, walnuts and pickled shimeji and main of salmon fillet resting on a bed of herb linguine with lobster bisque, followed by a homegrown cheese board, from St Andrews Anster to Clava Blue, were all as artfully presented as they were well executed. Classic dishes can be eaten in rooms, the lobby or snug area, available 24 hours, with small plates from 12 to 10pm in the bar, while the bistro does elevenses, fish, chips and fizz Tuesdays and stress-free Sunday family lunches.

Breakfast is served at 6.30am-10.30am, or room service (6.30am-11am) with early breakfast is available. The buffet included fresh fruit, pastries and cereals and there were multiple cooked options.

Worth getting out of bed for

Head to the waterfront and Kengo Kuma’s new V&A is five minutes’ walk away. Next door is Discovery Point, home to the Dundee-built research ship that took Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton to the Antarctic in 1901, the DCA with its engaging contemporary art, the award-winning Verdant Works with its exposition of the city’s textile industry, and the Museum of Transport where Chitty Chitty Bang Bang resides.

For music and theatre, there’s the Caird Hall and The Rep, and for late night music and craft beer, Clarks and Duke’s Corner. And no trip to Dundee is complete without a visit to JA Braithwaite’s, coffee and tea merchants since 1868.

Little extras

Guests can join the IHG Reward Club and earn points for weekend getaways and family holidays at one of the InterContinental Hotels Group’s 94 Hotel Indigos worldwide. And gym bunnies can use the facilities in sister property Staybridge Suites next door.

Guestbook comments

Dundee deserves to be the UK’s first Unesco City of Design, and the innovative Hotel Indigo is the place to enjoy the city’s spirit of invention.

Janet Christie