Image: Julian Allason
April 22 2011
When it comes to city-centre hotels, I am contrary enough to desire both space and atmosphere. Alas, spacious, light, cleanly designed guestrooms are hard to find in historic buildings that enjoy a real sense of place. Least of all in Edinburgh, where even the Georgian New Town creaks under the weight of history. Now I have come upon an ingenious solution involving the integration of two appealing but very different hotels. What is more, they are close enough to flit from one to t’other.
The Glasshouse on Leith Walk approaches design genius. The gothic façade of a 150-year-old church is embraced by a glass surround reticent to the point of invisibility (pictured). The hotel looks tiny, feels boutiqey, yet has 65 handsome guestrooms including suites reassuringly named after single malts. I long to throw a garden party on the magnificent roof terrace with its views over the city, Calton Hill, and down to the sea at Leith, secure in the knowledge that it would be efficiently served by the helpful (and notably good-looking) young staff.
All that can be combined with a visit to the remarkable North Bridge Brasserie at the baronial Scotsman Hotel, making a complete, if contrary recipe for a contemporary stay in the city. “Brasserie” hardly does justice to the imaginative menu served in the marbled splendour of what was formerly the entrance hall of The Scotsman newspaper. The imposing desk where advertisements for stud stags, wives and musketry were once placed is now the bar. Order a Glenfarclas 10-year-old malt, look back across the Waverley ravine towards the Glasshouse and raise a toast to contrariness.
Doubles from £165, including breakfast.