NATALIE Walker checks into Edinburgh’s Malmaison at The Shore for a second time and sees a dramatic transformation
The last time I visited Malmaison at The Shore in Edinburgh I bumped into the 1980s pop star Gary Numan. It was a boozy weekend and I hummed his classic Cars incessantly while staying the night in a very chintzy room adorned in deep red and brown velvet. Fast forward more than a decade and I returned to check out the boutique hotel which has just undergone a £1 million makeover. And my goodness, has it changed – for the better.
Budget or boutique?
Malmaison is synonymous with brand boutique. Every room has different decor. Since my last visit, the bold, glittery and garish have gone, replaced with a muted palette. Long and elegant chairs adorn a warren of bright corridors finished off with gold embossed light fittings. Nautical details decorate the walls, a lovely touch considering the location.
The paint had barely dried on our spacious room which was decked out Scandi-style. Grey walls and white trimmings were mixed with luxurious tweed-style curtains and three nondescript contemporary art prints. On the back wall was a 1930s-style bar scene with images of characters who looked a bit like Alfred Hitchcock and Humphrey Bogart. There was more luxury with the velvet-panelled black wardrobes. Best of all was a gigantic beige leather sofa and the huge and comfy bed. Chill out bliss.
Not too many mod cons, but a great sounding TV and a kettle (no real coffee… humph). The bathroom was long with French-pattern tiling. We had a stunning waterfront view and the sun shone all the time.
Wining and dining
The refurbishment has seen the arrival of the new look Chez Mal and bar. The restaurant is very urban kitchen style with exposed brickwork and natural wood finishes. It has an L-shaped layout which gives you a sense of space and privacy. There were quite a few couples having romantic meals when we dined. The bar was super-relaxed with a mix of comfy chairs and higher bar stools and plenty space to enjoy the very good cocktail list.
The menu was varied and typical of an upmarket bar. My ahi tuna tartare was outstanding, my lobster was good, but the pudding of lemon meringue cheesecake was just too sweet and too much. My colleague’s courgette, prawns and calamari in tempura batter was enormous and tasty. Her Black Angus steak was very good and her brioche butter pudding was homely and moreish. There was a decent and not overpriced wine list. It was all a very relaxed affair, even with a 13-month-old baby in tow.
Breakfast offers guests a plentiful array of continental-style goodies or cooked favourites.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is set on a cobblestone street in the trendy, historic waterfront district of Leith. It was built in 1883 as a sailors’ home. Steeped in maritime history, the area has plenty of contemporary and more traditional bars, cafés and restaurants. There are some smaller unique shops and Ocean Terminal (home to top tourist attraction, the Royal Yacht Britannia, a multiscreen cinema and a wide range of shops) is a mere ten-minute walk away. There is a regular farmers’ market on Saturdays with delicious food, including Italian cheese, chilli jams and tattie scones.
The waterfront terrace is one of the nicest – and probably coolest – spots to enjoy a drink or bite to eat on a sunny day at The Shore. Situated at the end of a road, there are no cars passing, and with uninterrupted views of the waterfront, and the inventive and interesting maritime street art, it is a brilliant spot to people watch and chill.
An ideal place to wind down – the buzz of the city centre seems a world away but is just ten minutes by bus.
• Bed and breakfast in a standard room starts from £155, and in a suite from £249. Packages on offer include the following. Weekender: two nights’ bed, dinner and cocktail on the first night and continental breakfast each morning, from £95 a night. Bed and Bubbles: overnight stay, continental breakfast and a glass of prosecco from £79 a night. Date Night: overnight stay, breakfast, a bottle of champagne and a three-course dinner from £135 a night. www.malmaison.com/locations/edinburgh)