In Edinburgh, location is everything. It’s a small, wildly beautiful city best navigated on foot, but you always seem to be tackling a ludicrously steep hill, 10 minutes before seeing a show or dashing for a dinner reservation. Hotel du Vin Edinburgh - housed in a beautiful square-shaped historic building that was once an upper-class asylum - is in the absolute best location for avoiding regular climbs.
The building is a warren of suede, leather and artfully distressed wood as well as whisky bars, wine tasting rooms, wine cellars, bistro tables, staircases and quite sumptuous bedrooms. The architecture dictates that some rooms have less natural daylight than others, but the hotel has a cosy, very romantic feel all year round, so it’s not a major issue. It feels like you’re constantly only a few minutes away from a heavy crystal tumbler of Scotch, or at least a well-decanted bottle of fine Pinot Noir. The hotel has also upgraded itself of late – there are Nespresso machines in every room and WiFi is now free for all. iPod docks have been introduced into the suites and the bathrooms are quite something. The larger rooms have free-standing claw footed tubs (some in the middle of the living room), while the rainforest showers are big enough to shower a deux using the very lovely and generously sized Arran Aromatics products.
Although there are Hotel du Vins elsewhere, this feels, somehow, quintessentially Scottish – there’s a “bothy” (the name for a traditional Highland hut) in the courtyard for sheltered al fresco drinks and cigars, a fair bit of tartan and several dishes on the menu that you might consider the national dish. The theming, though, doesn’t ever quite escalate to Braveheart proportions (even if the toilets marked for “lads” or “lassies” teeter on the brink). Breakfasts are big, whether the full Scottish after some porridge, or eggs Benedict, and the Bistro has become a favourite destination dining room for locals, particularly for private dining and birthdays.
- The bathtubs are great for a bubble bath for two, particularly with a bottle of Champagne
- There’s a discount on wines in the Bistro that come from the winery matching the name of your room
- The outdoor Cigar Bothy is an all-weather romantic snug
- An 11am check-out is a tad early for a party town
- The square-shaped building is a total maze of corridors in which even the staff can get lost
Need to Know: Hotel du Vin Edinburgh
Number of rooms: 47
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 11am
Room service: Yes
Swimming pool: No
Dogs welcome: Yes, with a charge of £10 (a dog bed supplied).
Eating and drinking: The Bistro is at the heart of the hotel, with a very easy-dining grill menu that’s big on local Lothian-sourced ingredients. The steaks – including a 21-day aged Donald Russell grass-fed rib eye – are great if you want to work your way through some of the more luxurious reds on the wine list. There are salads (chopped chicken and tarragon or a Toulouse sausage variety), but this is a restaurant for a dietary blow out – start with roast bone marrow and toast and then follow with some trad haggis, neeps and tatties. The Bistro’s masterstroke is to put deep fried Mars bar petit fours on the pudding menu: three tiny battered bites that will give you the Edinburgh experience without having to brave a chip shop. Be warned – one is amazing, a second is inevitable, the third will make you feel a little ‘wrong’.
Near to? Everything in the Old Town – this is absolutely the finest location for festival time, as just about everything is within a 10-minute walk away.
Getting there: The hotel is a 15-minute walk (involving a steep hill or an even steeper and epic set of stairs) or five-minute taxi from Edinburgh Waverly, which is regularly served by trains from London.