Scotland on Sunday Travel - Do Not Disturb
The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s leafy West End is home to some of the city’s most appealing architechture. And among the august foreign embassies and law firm offices whose status it enhances, stands The Bonham, a hotel which occupies three townhouses in the prestigious Drumsheugh Gardens. These buildings have a rich history, and were once a maternity hospital and latterly student accommodation before being transformed into a hotel in 1998. The hotel has been recently benefitted from a multi-million pound refurbishment, to stunning effect.
Budget or boutique?
The Bonham is definitely in the boutique category – with only 49 bedrooms, many of which are executive rooms or suites, you very much feel like you are getting a different experience to the guests next to you. Each room is decorated individually, no doubt in part due to the unique fabric of the property itself, so there’s a strong bespoke feel to the interiors. The style is set as soon as you enter the hotel itself, with a reception that juxtaposes the original dark oak with glass, brass and an Art Deco feel.
Our room was an executive double on the second floor. We decided to take the stairs and, under the guise of upping our step count, my wife took a trip down memory lane – she was one of the lucky students whose first year at Edinburgh University meant a bedroom in the then Muir Hall of residence (her old room is now the ground floor bar). She wanted to reminisce and check out the whole place as discreetly as possible. She assured me that our room was decorated very differently to when her housemates lived here.
Nowadays, sans Suede and Sisters of Mercy posters, the interior décor manages to ooze luxury, and enhance the views rather than detract from them. A coffee machine and seating area overlooking the private gardens and houses beyond is a welcome area to relax, and the bed is huge and comfy, while in the bathroom there are fragrant White Company toiletries.
Wining and dining
The restaurant has been rebranded as No 35 at The Bonham, with an eye on enticing non-residents to sample the modern menu. Situated in the heart of the hotel, the space is opulent and low-key, with velvet walls, quilted banquette seating as well as bigger tables, and there’s also the option of private dining rooms for a larger party. The restaurant itself was quiet the night we ate, yet we were seated right next to another couple, and it was impossible not to hear what they were saying.
The menu sends all the right messages about using quality Scottish ingredients, offering familiar dishes and serving them in a modern way. Unfortunately, on the night we dined, the reality did not match up to our expectations. The Banffshire pork and Scottish hake were definitely not celebrated on the plates my wife chose. While my scallop (singular) and duck breast were better, only our desserts really stood out – a deconstructed apple crumble and a treacle tart. Perhaps once the kitchen has sorted out the execution, ensuring the taste of the dishes matches their impressive looks, the experience will be better.
Worth getting out of bed for
You are in the heart of Edinburgh – a short walk will take you to Princes Street and the Old Town one way, or Stockbridge and the picturesque Dean Village the other. Find the Water of Leith walkway and head to the Scottish Museum of Modern Art, or if you fancy a longer stroll, walk all the way down to Leith. Stockbridge hosts a variety of shops and coffee stops and is perfect for a mooch around the Royal Botanic Garden on a lazy weekend.
The Bonham ticks the boxes, providing all the amenities
of a boutique hotel. On the first Thursday of every
month it hosts a live music evening – Bluezy Snoozy, at £25 per person for three courses and a half bottle of wine, plus acoustic music from Paul Tulloch and Andy Challen.
If you are looking for somewhere a little special in Edinburgh, then The Bonham is a great choice for a treat, perhaps just a couple of nights away from the children. It’s a fantastic location with luxurious accommodation.
The Bonham Hotel, 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7RN (0131-226 6050, www.thebonham.com)