B+B Edinburgh rather takes your breath away from the outside, before you even enter. Along the curved terrace of beautiful townhouses, 3 Rothesay Terrace stands out with its intricately carved high gothic Victorian wooden portico – and the theme carries on inside.
The house was built in 1884 for the proprietor of The Scotsman, John Ritchie Findlay, his wife and ten children. Findlay tasked the architect, Sydney Mitchell, to design and fit out the interior to suit his position in life and it is probably fair to say, looking at the results, that he had something of a high opinion of himself.
The house is remarkably grand, with all the ornate wood panelling, stained glass and decorative painted ceilings still intact and in place. Checking in on a dark night with dinner reservations to rush back out for, we found it difficult not to stare slack-jawed at our surroundings. We had intriguing glimpses of the library and the drawing room and decided to explore more later. Fortunately for all the building’s pomp, the hotel staff are friendly and the place has a relaxed feel.
It’s been a hotel since 1999, with B + B taking it over in 2011 as part of a UK-wide chain of five boutique hotels – but the only one in Scotland.
The ethos of the brand is to fill the gap between conventional bed and breakfast accommodation and more expensive hotels, providing luxurious, stylish surroundings in a good location at a reasonable price.
Wining and dining
B+B Edinburgh doesn’t offer dinner – but why would a centrally located place need to, being surrounded as it is by the myriad eateries of the West End? We gobbled up the tablet and shortbread in the room however.
There is a small private bar on the first floor, so guests can have a pre-dinner snifter or a nightcap before bed.
The second B in the name is of course all about breakfast and the offering is good quality and well presented. The choice isn’t huge, which I always see as a good sign. You can have the traditional full Scottish, with haggis and square sausage alongside your bacon and eggs, or opt for a creamy bowl of porridge with fruit, all cooked to order. There is a buffet of pastries, breads, cereals and yogurt too.
Budget or boutique?
It is a wonderful combination of both; with real character but none of the fussiness of a hotel such as bellhops and mini bars. Our fellow guests were young couples, two American athletes in their sports gear and a few business people.
There is a good selection of rooms, from those which can accommodate a family, to single rooms, but all are en suite. We found ourselves in a cavernous first-floor suite, with two large beds facing the window out of which was a vertiginous view of the whole of Dean Village, and the Water of Leith laid out before us. The ensuite bath and shower room was chic and well equipped and – had we needed it – there was a small room with two bunks beds through another door. Half the room was laid out as a sitting area, with widescreen TV and lots of magazines and information on Edinburgh. The decor is tasteful, discreet and comfortable.
Worth getting out of bed for
The location is great for anyone wanting to explore the city without a car, or those in town for business. Haymarket is a five-minute walk round the corner.
But the first-floor library, modelled on that of Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford House, would tempt you to stay in. It has floor-to-ceiling shelves piled high with books and ladders to reach them that should be kept away from adventurous children, or adults for that matter. There’s a glorious fireplace housing an open fire with tea, coffee, biscuits and hot chocolate available at all times. Newspapers are provided, but it would surely be rude to peruse anything but The Scotsman.
B+B Edinburgh has been ranked number six in the world for the 2015 Expedia Insider Select Awards and it is easy to see why – it is a gem of a place in the heart of the city, giving guests everything they need at very reasonable prices.
The price for a petit double room with breakfast starts from £100.
B+B Edinburgh, 3 Rothesay Terrace, Edinburgh, EH3 7RY, 0131-225 5084, www.bb-edinburgh.com