“Elegant luxury and magical food with a refreshing smattering of madcap fun, in the classy heart of Georgian Edinburgh”
There are just 4 bedrooms, all generously sized and split over the 2nd and 3rd floors of the house. The numbering though, is predictably eccentric: instead of being numbered 1-4, like the hotel’s moniker they all contain 1s and 2s. Colours tend to be naturals that remind you of foods (of course) like mustard, sage, cream and coffee, and you’ll spot all the big designers from Osborne & Little to Sahco Hesslein, Romo and Designers Guild.
As in the rest of the house, the suites’ Georgian features and proportions provide a stunning backdrop for contemporary lighting and furnishings. There’s plenty of space to mooch, sleep, read or just gaze out over beautiful Edinburgh; on a fine day you can even see the Firth of Forth from bedrooms 1 and 21. Suites at the back (2 and 12) have wonderful views over the huge gardens leading up into woods, plus New-York style shutters to keep the place cosy on winter nights. We stayed in #12, and slept brilliantly as the linen was crisp and luxurious, the bed huge.
All suites have plasma TVs, free WiFi, good storage space and a walk-in shower or wet room. #12 and 1, on the 2nd floor, also have vast egg-shaped island baths that are made of stone and lit by mounted LED lights - ideal for long, indulgent soaks.
There are nice extra touches, too, like bathrobes, Elemis goodies and a decanter of sloe gin to soothe you after a hectic day at the Festival or tramping round the sights. You can ring down for complimentary tea or coffee whenever you like.
Be prepared for a gastronomic adventure. Having trained with some of the UK’s best chefs, including Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park, Paul’s technical skills are indisputable. His genius, though, is that he throws away the recipe books and creates from scratch - it starts with sketches on a Sunday morning, and these evolve into the week’s dishes. They’re assembled piece by piece by a team of chefs who work with the precision of surgeons performing an operation in the open kitchen - watch it all while you wait.
The thrill, as an eater, is that every mouthful reveals more intriguing flavours and textures. Expect some unusual, multi-layered combos, like venison, chorizo, sultanas, mustard and carrots. But they work. As the concoction of ingredients is different every week, no one will ever again eat what I ate (sadly, as it was fab!). My main was Sicilian-style 'pink trout', composed of trout with artichokes, shimezi and shitake mushrooms, giant pasta shells, almonds and chickpeas, warm coleslaw, leek, spring onion, kidney beans, balsamic and thyme yeast cream, as well as dried courgettes, argen oil and grated feta cheese. The pudding was a divine apricot and coffee tiramisu concoction. It was all inspired and inspiring.
After the culinary drama of dinner, breakfast seemed somewhat humdrum. But it was delicious and tastefully presented nonetheless - we had fried eggs sprinkled with cubes of ham and chive oil. The meal is served in the POD (Paul’s Own Dining), a circular cream leather banquette around a pink marble table adjoining the drawing room.
If you’re staying more than 1 night and want to eat out, there are plenty of options. The other jewel in Edinburgh’s culinary crown is Restaurant Martin Wishart, on Leith’s upwardly mobile waterfront (there’s a cheaper brasserie, too). Also well worth trying are Ondine, a seafood restaurant perched above the Royal Mile, and Mark Greenaway at 12 Picardy Place.