“Sophistication in a superb spot in the city, with top-notch contemporary comforts and a dash of cosy Scottish charm.”
First things first. The Hotel du Vin’s 47 rooms and suites have fantastic beds. With their queen-sized Vi-spring mattresses and Egyptian cotton bedlinen, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep here, you probably won’t get one anywhere. All come with toiletries from Arran Aromatics, plasma TVs and DVD players; there’s a library in reception as well as a supply of board games in case the dreich Scottish weather does its worst while you’re there. Imaginatively stocked minibars include complimentary Taylors of Harrogate teas, freshly ground coffee and posh hot chocolate.
We stayed in a superior double, in the attic of the older part of the building, which meant added character thanks to beams and a sloping ceiling. Like the other rooms in this category, the bathroom also had a huge, Aston Matthews, free-standing bath as well as a walk-in monsoon shower (the standard doubles have a shower over the bath or, in some cases, just a shower). Some of the standard doubles in the new-build section are rather small, designed for guests travelling alone, but those hadn’t been finished when we checked in so we weren’t able to get proper measurements.
If you do need more space, there are three categories of larger rooms to choose from. Studio Suites come with a seating area that can double up as a triple room thanks to a pull-out bed, while Suites do the same but, as the name suggests, are substantially bigger. The top-of-the-range Executive Suite also has its own (small) private terrace with a view of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in the city centre. Other rooms have no real views to speak of but, if you want to get your bearings, sneak out to the rooftop terrace of the National Museum of Scotland, across the road, and that’s easily fixed.
We weren’t completely sold on the rooms’ bold mustard, navy, teal and plum colour schemes, but other guests have commented positively - and, to give the hotel’s designers their due, these are mainly traditional Edinburgh colours which, in winter months, add definite warmth. It's also worth bearing in mind that rooms overlooking the inner courtyard may get noise from smokers in the cigar bothy through the evening.
With its mock-French décor and firm focus on Scottish produce, the Hotel du Vin Bistro adds a welcome flavour of the Auld Alliance to culinary proceedings. Open to both guests and non-guests at lunch and dinner, classic comfort food at sensible prices is the aim of head chef, Matt Powell. Typical mains include Buccleuch Estate rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips, coq au vin made with chicken sourced from a local supplier and Findlay’s haggis with neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes). Make sure you leave room for dessert. As well as proper puddings, there’s a cunning range of smaller options for those who want to finish off with something sweet but don’t want a hefty pud (we loved the vanilla ice cream splashed with sherry) and locally inspired petit fours (anyone for Irn Bru Turkish Delight or chewy little squares of deep-fried Mars Bar?). More serious foodies can also book the multi-tasking chef’s table, set around a corner from the main dining area with windows onto the kitchen.
In the morning this table doubles as the breakfast buffet (served Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 10am and on weekends and bank holidays from 8am to 11am). The spread here was one of the best we’ve come across, with delicious fresh pastries, breads and pains au chocolat set out among all kinds of fruits, yoghurts, cereals and compotes, as well as cheeses and hams. There’s even a giant honeycomb for the sweet-toothed to get stuck into, though we were disappointed that the orange and grapefruit juices on offer didn’t appear to be freshly squeezed. Heartier hot breakfasts can also be made to order; choices include porridge, haddock with poached eggs and a full, locally sourced, cooked breakfast.
Staying here is as much about what to drink as what to eat, though. The hotel’s Mezzanine bar is surprisingly small, which makes it ideal for an intimate aperitif but not the kind of place, perhaps, that you’d be inclined to hang out with a larger group of friends. Grab a seat and hang onto it if you can – many of the wines on the hotel’s mammoth wine list can be ordered by the glass and the well-informed bar staff will happily guide you through the selection; bar food can also be ordered here from 11am to 8pm daily.
If you want to do more than just sip your way through the wine list, the hotel runs regular wine events on Sunday evenings, and tastings can be arranged around its fabulous glass-topped tasting table, designed by the pros at the Laroche Winery. This being Scotland, there’s also a separate Whisky Snug on the ground floor. There’s a little more room to move here than in the Mezzanine bar and deep-backed sofas, soft lighting and velvety cushions give it a country house feel. Guests can take afternoon tea here, or sit back and order from some of the myriad fine malts that line the walls.
When it’s finished, the courtyard will also contain a Bothy Lodge for smokers and outdoor loungers, though this hadn’t yet been added when we visited.
For visitors staying for more than one night, there’s no lack of choice when it comes to eating out in Edinburgh. The old port area of Leith is the city’s current culinary hotspot, with Michelin-starred chefs more prominent than ships these days (look out for Martin Wishart at The Kitchin). In the immediate vicinity of the hotel, The Outsider and The Tower restaurants are both reliable mid-market choices for a decadent night out. For more simple fuel, Monster Mash is a retro café just around the corner that serves high class bangers (from Crombie’s butchers) and mash.
Children of all ages are welcome. High chairs are provided in the restaurant and pull-out beds in some of the larger rooms means the bedrooms can provide flexible sleeping space for younger families. Cots and additional extra beds can be provided in some of the rooms. There is also a baby listening service for guests hoping to dine sans enfants in the evening.
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking