Scotland on Sunday: Do Not Disturb
Staying in a hotel is all very well, but sometimes what you really need is something a little less formal; a base that works for you.
That’s the concept behind Marriott’s Residence Inn, which opened its Aberdeen base at the end of last year in the Marischal Square development.
Here it’s the little things that count. Business travellers will appreciate access to a personal galley kitchen, the laptop-friendly spaces in public areas and studios, plus the free wifi throughout. The Inn’s staff will even shop for you, delivering groceries ready for a working supper – just like at home.
Although the concept might be targeted at extended stays, it’s perfect for the more independent-minded traveller.
This hotel sits next to one of the city’s oldest buildings – the 16th century Provost Skene’s House. And a little further away is Andy Scott’s stunning sculpture, Poised. The Kelpies’ creator has installed a majestic figure of a leopard, one of the city’s heraldic emblems.
Budget or boutique?
This has all the advantages of a hotel with the bonus of home comforts.
These are no ordinary hotel bedrooms: they are called “studios” for a reason. Cunningly designed to incorporate the kitchen beside the sleeping area and spacious shower room, they quickly become a living space, not just a stop-over spot.
A clever sliding door reveals either a shower room or a wardrobe, while the well-equipped kitchen comes with microwave, two-pan hob, fridge and dishwasher.
The décor is neutral with highlights from the palette created for the hotel by Elegant Clutter – the blue and yellow touches pop just enough after a day in the Granite City.
Wining and dining
If you don’t want to prepare something in your studio’s mini kitchen, through the day and evening the Inn’s bar space has a simple menu with a gastro-pub feel. Chef will rustle up a handsome burger and chips or creamy chicken and leek pie: it is not elaborate – just homely and satisfyingly tasty.
Breakfast is served in the same space. Again the choice is beautifully fresh, with bacon, eggs, fruit, cereal, bread and pastries to set up guests for the day.
Worth getting out of bed for
If you have leisure time, then the immediate area offers a good introduction to Aberdeen’s heritage. Marischal College, once the face of the university and now the city council, is impressively gothic and adds context to the modern buildings of the Residence Inn and its commercial neighbour.
A block away is Union Street, where the cells of the Tolbooth Museum are a graphic reminder of the fate of the city’s 17th century criminals.
Down Shiprow, the Maritime Museum is a fascinating insight into the North Sea. From the herring trade, lighthouses and ships to the oil industry and beyond, there is something more to learn as you turn each corner.
Watch Aberdeen’s highway to the world, the harbour, from the museum’s windows; and, as dusk falls, the Northlink ferry heading to Orkney and Shetland.
Back on Union Street is St Nicholas’s churchyard where I search for the grave of the Wizard of the North – the magician who perfected the “catch a bullet in your teeth” trick. John Anderson was so famous that when Harry Houdini visited Aberdeen in 1909 he too sought out his grave.
Just beyond the graveyard walls, the reward for my perseverance is a bowl of Cullen skink at Bar 99, where flashes of opulence clash charmingly with the rustic bar, stone walls and mismatched chairs.
Top of the list is the laundry with its AEG washing machines and tumble dryers. The gym is a perfectly formed workout space and open 24 hours a day.
I wish my home was as well designed as this.
Studios from £56 (weekends pre-paid) or £66 (midweek pre-paid). Residence Inn by Marriott Aberdeen, Marischal Square, Guestrow, Aberdeen AB10 1AS (01224 061190. Marriott.com/abzri). Tollbooth and Maritime Museum entry free, www.aagm.co.uk. May Festival 25-27 May. aberdeenfestivals.com