Hotel review: The Bonham, Edinburgh

The Bonham Hotel in Edinburgh's West End. Picture: Contributed
The Bonham Hotel in Edinburgh's West End. Picture: Contributed
Share this article
Have your say

EDINBURGH is – as one would expect – a busy, bustling city. Especially in summer festival season.

But, unlike most cities, you don’t have to go far to find peace, calm and tranquillity. The Bonham is set in the Victorian extension to Edinburgh’s world famous New Town, facing gorgeous peaceful gardens. As soon as you enter, you could be a million miles away from the tumult of the city.


The Bonham is the very definition of a boutique hotel. In fact, it was at the forefront of the entire movement when it first opened in the late 1990s. When it was mooted that an old building which had housed student halls was to be transformed into a city centre hotel, many expected a conservative establishment which would reflect the sober surroundings of insurance company offices and private clubs that the West End was known for. What we got was an eye-popping assault on the more reserved tastes of staid old Edinburgh. With it’s vibrant colour palettes, clashing patterns and strong modern art pieces, it was – initially – a lot to take in. But once you appreciated the quality of the finish and the care taken over every last detail, you realised this was a welcome breath of fresh air. Before long, this was what everyone was looking for in a luxury getaway, and paler imitations sprang up everywhere.


Each of the bedrooms is individually decorated – no chain-styling-by-numbers here. Scottish tweed is coupled with outlandish and unexpected colours and patterns, resulting in rainbow-striped sofas and chequerboard carpeting. Our spacious second floor room was dominated by a huge print of Oscar Marzaroli’s famous photograph Glasgow Boys hung over a super-king-sized bed. There was a Schiaparelli pink window seat and chairs set by a small table, and heavy, floor-length curtains ensured that the early summer dawn – if not actual sunshine – were kept well at bay until we were ready to face the day.


The restaurant at The Bonham does, like every kitchen worth its salt, offer fresh, locally-sourced fare. What’s a little more unusual is that the menu is totally at the mercy of what produce the chef wants fresh for that day – and so can, and does, change on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately, the restaurant was hosting a wedding during our stay, so we contented ourselves with the huge afternoon tea that was served in the bar. We scoffed a beautiful selection of freshly-made sandwiches, scones, macarons and possets. I don’t think either of us could have managed to eat dinner after that even if the restaurant had been available. Eating three scones at one sitting will do that to a person.

You’d also be well advised to leave plenty of room for the substantial breakfasts – with local bacon, sausages, eggs and mushrooms all served up with traditional black pudding, haggis and tattie scones. It’s a good thing that the hotel has wide entrances.


Edinburgh on your doorstep is the primary reason for leaving the comfort of the hotel. Being based in the West End means that nearly all of the capital’s attractions are within easy walking distance – from the castle and galleries to shops and bars. The remarkably helpful team on reception will assist with anything at all from suggested walking routes to drinking preferences.


On checking in, customers are offered a map of Edinburgh and some discount vouchers for local attractions. The rooms have wonderfully luxurious White Company bathroom treats and soft fluffy robes – for all that lounging about on supersoft sheets.

The rooms also have free wi-fi and access to Netflix and other premium entertainment services. It’s almost as though they really don’t want you to leave.


Forget pale imitations – the originals are always the best.

• Bed & breakfast at The Bonham starts from £120 per room. Bonham Hotel, 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7RN. Tel: 0131-274 7400