“21st-century guesthouse with easy access to Edinburgh city centre, whose owners tread a perfect line between fabulous and fussy service”
Thankfully, there is now a third way, in the shape of 94DR’s contemporary boutique B&B (the name comes from the address: 94 Dalkeith Road). Run with friendly attention to detail by former restaurateurs and marketeers, Paul Lightfoot and John MacEwan, this seven-bedroom townhouse, in the city’s just-out-of-town Southside (part of the elegant Blackett conservation area), is as well suited for a romantic love-in as it is for a family to set up their base camp.
A Victorian tiled entrance hall, high ceilings and fresh flowers set a sophisticated tone, but the overall feel is unpretentious and willing. The B&B’s real USP, however, is the owners’ enthusiasm. Paul and John are obviously in the business because they get a buzz from it and guests leave feeling cherished rather than chided.
- Sumptuous bedrooms with period details but bold design touches
- The bathrooms are truly decadent, with underfloor heating and White Company toiletries
- We loved the designer teddy bears, honesty bar and other homely touches
- Access to insider knowledge of Edinburgh’s bars, shops and, particularly, restaurants, comes as standard
- Fantastic breakfasts are cooked to order and always include imaginative daily specials
- The location is slightly out on a limb, but a short one; buses will get you into the city centre in 10 minutes (or a taxi costs around a fiver), and you're near the base of Arthur's Seat if you need some fresh air
- It’s set on a busy road but is well-shielded from traffic noise, especially the back rooms
- My room had no full-length mirror
- There’s no fresh milk or coffee in the bedrooms, but guests can help themselves to both (and to a Nespresso machine) in the lounge, or request a jug of fresh milk
- Breakfast is pretty early but if you want a lie-in you can order a breakfast box to be delivered to your room
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Guesthouse
- Breakfast (+ dinner twice monthly)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
The painstakingly designed and spankingly clean rooms are contemporary in style, with fresh white walls, woodwork and sheets cosied up by brightly coloured cushions and chairs, fur rugs, and gorgeous, naturally-coloured blankets from Isle of Mull Weavers. There are some sweet homely touches too: designer teddies, and shiny red and silver Tunnocks teacakes (a local biscuit institution) gleaming enticingly on each room’s tea tray. You know you’re in Scotland here but it’s all done in a subtle, contemporary way.
Each room is named after a different whisky and matches contemporary comforts - such as bathrobes, flat-screen TVs and DVD players (there’s a library in reception) - with elegant period features such as Victorian fireplaces and shutters. You can choose from 3 different room types: Couture (Bowmore and Caol Ila), Bespoke (Lagavulin and Tamdhu) and Tailored (Aberlour and Macallan). There’s also Wee Dram, a snug but smart children’s bunk-bedroom which can be booked in conjunction with Tamdhu to make a Family Suite.
Bowmore, Aberlour and Tamdhu are at the front of the building, the others at the back. If you’re a night-time wriggler, go for Bowmore, Caol Ila or Tamdhu, with their kingsize beds; the others (except for Wee Dram) have standard doubles.
And if you prefer to soak rather than spritz, opt for Bowmore or Caol Ila, which have claw-foot baths as well as power showers. The other rooms have huge walk-in showers. All the bathrooms are large and pampering, with underfloor heating, plenty of shelf space, White Company toiletries and piping hot water. Typical of 94DR’s attention to detail, the showers have all been cleverly designed so you don’t get your arm wet when you turn them on.
Finally, if you’re feeling romantic, book Bowmore. As well as that claw-foot bath, it has a bay window with views right across to Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano that rises up in the heart of the city and is the perfect place for an easy “country” walk without the hassle of getting in a car.
- CD player
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Ipod dock
Breakfasts are a big deal at 94DR. Paul is a trained chef and, with no lunches or dinners available to guests, he goes to town on the most important meal of the day. Dishes are prepared freshly every morning using seasonal, local and organic produce, and eaten in a lovely light conservatory at the back of the house, overlooking the guesthouse’s walled garden. A choice of freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, porridge and traditional Scottish breakfasts are always available, but Paul also rustles up a couple of daily specials. During my stay these were granola and yoghurt with homemade plum compote followed by a delicious kiln-smoked trout fishcake rolled in oatmeal and topped with a poached egg. Flexibility is all part of the service, however; when a guest on an adjacent table admitted to being vegan, Paul stepped up to the challenge offering her an equally varied list of vegan-friendly dishes.
For dinner recommendations, both John and Paul are right on the money, with spot-on suggestions for both walkable and city centre options. Looking for something relaxed and not too pricey, I ate at The Dogs, in the New Town, arguably Edinburgh’s best gastropub. Other city centre hotspots recommended by John included The Outsider, serving modern Scottish food, and Ondine, a classy fish and seafood restaurant, while Nadine, for reliable Turkish cooking, and Blonde, for relaxed Scottish menus are both within easy walking distance. Book in advance if you want to be sure of a seat at the guesthouse’s twice-monthly pop-up supper club, Under The Table.
- Coffee / tea making
- Restaurants nearby
- Wander over to nearby Prestonfield Hotel for a dram in its beautifully but eccentrically decorated bar
- Climb up Arthurs’ Seat for a hearty hike and fabulous views of the city (if you’re thirsty carry on to the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston, Scotland’s oldest pub, found just over the hill)
- Go shopping amid the boutiques, delis and cafes of pretty William Street, in the West End
- Take a walk along the Water of Leith walkway from village-like Stockbridge to the Gallery of Modern Art (from where there’s a free bus back into town)
- Be serenaded by busking pipers as you weave a route down the Royal Mile from the castle to Holyrood Palace
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets
For such a design-savvy guesthouse, it’s a surprise to find that children of all ages are welcome, but they genuinely are.
Family friendly accommodation:
The Family Suite is creating by connecting Tamdhu with Wee Dram, a small bunk-bedroom especially for kids (only bookable as an add-on to Tamdhu). Wee Dram has an X-box, children’s toys, DVDs, toy chest and tuck tray.
In addition, all rooms have space for a baby cot.
Babysitting can be arranged via a reputable Edinburgh firm.
Travel cots and highchairs are available.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking