Market Street Hotel, Edinburgh
It says something about Edinburgh that a gap site in a prime location – across the road from Waverley train station and a hop, skip and jump from Princes Street Gardens – can lie empty for more than 50 years. Yet that seemed to be the fate of the narrow plot of land between the City Art Centre and the row of historical buildings which are home to coffee bars and the famous Doric bar.
Well it was until the Carlton Hotel Collection snapped it up. Despite the restrictions of its narrow plot, this hotel is a good size, soaring skywards, and it finally completes the street without over-stating its arrival. From the outside its clean lines and narrow windows reflect much of the city’s architecture elsewhere, but it’s inside that it offers something new. This boutique hotel has high standards, and it has made the most of its situation, with views across the city; the best of which are found in the seventh floor Champagne bar, the Nor Loft.
Budget or boutique?
Both. There are cosy rooms with views at the back over the Old Town, from around £100 a night, to the indulgent Alba Suite, with a private outdoor terrace, a bathtub, a sofa in front of a fireplace, with prices from £243 to £325.
The room I was in, the Vista – because of its views across the city – comes complete with a set of binoculars and makes incredibly clever use of space – complete with wardrobe space and a mirrored wall, with the shower room (there’s no bath admittedly) tucked off to the side. The splitting up of the space into a hall and bedroom made it feel more like a suite than a regular double room. There was a king-size double bed, origami-like bedside tables, an engraved glass table with chairs at which to sit and admire the view, and a 43-inch TV on the wall which was playing the soothing music of Scottish Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis on entry.
The lack of fussy window dressings – you slide a wooden door across the window when fed up with the view – also adds to the feeling of space. There is luxury too – the wooden walls and shutters are white oak, giving an almost Scandic vibe, and there’s marble to be found in the bathroom along with a rainfall shower and Votary bathroom goodies. There’s also a pillow menu, so if you’re not happy with memory foam, you can ask for duck feather or even Tencel. Knowing it’s likely to be popular with those looking for a weekend stay, it also has handy Dyson hairdryer and GHD straighteners.
Admittedly the entrance to the hotel is low-key, but there’s a concierge on hand in the atrium, and the lift goes straight to the seventh floor where hotel reception resides (as well as the Nor Loft) and there’s no way of getting off at any other floor unless you have a key.
Wining and dining
This is not a hotel which has a fine dining restaurant, however the Nor Loft does serve small plates of nibbles through the day to complement the Champagne which is always perfectly chilled. It’s also where you head for breakfast, which offers warms pastries, yoghurts, cured meats and artisan bread as well as more traditional fried Scottish fare.
But the Champagne and views are really what this place is all about. Its unique perspective will undoubtedly mean it’s over-subscribed when it comes to the fireworks shows at New Year and at the end of the annual summer festival.
Worth getting out of bed for
Edinburgh has so much to offer for those who want to get up and at ’em, but you can also just order breakfast in bed, open the shutter to see the view and then laze around and watch TV.
Every room contains three small pictures of the Nor Loch at various times in history, and the coffee is also from Edinburgh. A cork left on the bed can be taken to the Nor Loft for a complimentary glass of Champagne, where you can also see the “floating” fireplaces set into the wall which are said to represent the musical notation of the first five notes of the Scottish national anthem.
Guest book comments
The staff are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable – in particular about the range of Champagne on offer in the Nor Loft.
Rates start at £101 (including VAT) per night. The Vista room in which I stayed is priced from £150 to £452 (Hogmanay prices). Market Street Hotel, 6 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE, (0131-322 9229, [email protected])