Hotel du Vin Edinburgh

Old Town, Edinburgh, United Kingdom Book from

Sophistication in a superb spot in the city, with top-notch contemporary comforts and a dash of cosy Scottish charm.
This opening from one of the UK's best-loved small hotel groups occupies a plum spot near the castle in Edinburgh's World-Heritage-listed Old Town. As with all Hotel du Vin properties, it makes the most of a historic heritage, having been largely converted from a former poorhouse lunatic asylum. The result is as far from a lego-like new-build as possible. Instead, in its tall rooms and multi-level layout, the architecture cleverly mimics the steep, warren-like closes and higgledy-piggledy topography that characterise the neighbourhood.

The interior design, too, honours the historic and characterful, but with a contemporary twist. Look out for the vast chandelier made from suspended crystal glasses that shimmers over the lobby. There are classic leather armchairs, internal glass walls, a whisky snug, a nouveau Scottish bistro, and (unlike some of the more showy hotels that have recently opened in Edinburgh) just a smidgen of tastefully subdued tartan. A great example of contemporary Scottish style.

Highs

  • The trademark Hotel du Vin comfort factor - great bathrooms and exceedingly comfortable beds go without saying
  • The buzzy but relaxed bistro is a definite step up from your average city centre hotel restaurant, and delivers a superb breakfast buffet
  • A truly excellent wine list, with more choice by the glass than usual
  • Even in its early days (we stayed a month after it opened), service was excellent and attentive
  • One of the best locations in Edinburgh - all the main sights are within easy reach on foot

Lows

  • Although it may feel like an independent boutique property, this is a chain hotel
  • The decor throughout is rather dark, with very muted hues in the bedrooms - making winter nights cosy, but a little oppressive in summer
  • There’s no spa or pool, nor any on-site parking (and valet service is not cheap)

Best time to go

The cosy décor and lack of outside space lends itself to pampering winter weekends away, but the prime Festival location means you’ll have to book early if you want to book a room during August. The proximity to the city’s sights and attractions should provide plenty of incentive for a trip at any time of year, however.

Our top tips

For a central perch with excellent views, clamber up Calton Hill, at the east end of Princes Street.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 47
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Tv

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • For an insight into the city’s changing architecture, stroll down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace and the Scottish parliament building via spooky Mary King’s Close, an underground network of streets around half way down. Finish off with a wander around the elegant Georgian New Town if your legs are still game

  • Culture vultures shouldn’t miss the big three: the National Museum of Scotland, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery

  • Bar-hop your way around George Street’s stylish bars

  • Stroll round the corner to the church, Greyfriars Kirk. The first to be built in Edinburgh after the Reformation, its minister controversially organised the National Covenant in 1638, though it’s also known for its connection with Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier who, in 1858, famously followed the remains of his master to the church graveyard.

  • Strike out along the Water of Leith Walkway, a wildlife-rich riverside path that weaves semi-secretly through the centre of the city. One of the most interesting short sections runs from Stockbridge to the Gallery of Modern Art through quirky Dean Village

  • Splash some cash in the city’s shops. Forget Princes Street, though. The prime shopping streets in Edinburgh these days are George Street and Multrees Walk, home to everything from Harvey Nichols to Space NK. For independent boutiques try Broughton Street, Victoria Street, William Street and Jeffrey Street. Foodies shouldn’t miss Valvona & Crolla deli on Elm Row, or the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market on Castle Terrace

  • Wrap up warm and head out on a windblown hike up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in the city centre. It takes around 40 minutes to get to the top and you’re rewarded with jaw-dropping views across the city

  • Embrace the Edinburgh Festival if you’re in the city in August. The world’s largest arts festival, it’s actually a collection of different, overlapping festivals encompassing everything from theatre and comedy to music and dance (the Edinburgh International Film Festival has now moved to June). As locations go, you couldn’t be better placed to enjoy the show, with many of the best venues right on your doorstep

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting

Kids

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.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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