Room check: Malmaison, Edinburgh

By Ewan McDonald

Ewan McDonald stays at the Malmaison, a former 'house of negotiable affection' in Edinburgh.

Some of The Malmaison's rooms overlook Edinburgh's newly-developed boat harbour with its waterside apartments and bistros. Photo / Thinkstock
Some of The Malmaison's rooms overlook Edinburgh's newly-developed boat harbour with its waterside apartments and bistros. Photo / Thinkstock

A taxi from the airport costs... It's Edinburgh, so you're more likely to be fetching up by train at Waverley Station than the airport. A taxi from the station is about £6 ($12); from the airport £20. I was dropped off by a mate who used to be in the Leith police so knew it as the former Seamen's Mission and had visited the place on a number of previous occasions. Purely on official business, of course, madam. Now if you'd be so kind as to show me the young lady's passport...

Check-in experience? You have to find it; in the front door, through a cramped lobby and around the corner. It may help to know the secret handshake. Staff seem to have been recruited from Eastern Europe and taking a "Scottish as a Second Language" course.

Room? Superior twin, so generous size, though the decor is rather too dark wood, Black Watch tartan textiles and moody lighting for my taste, especially on a bleak Caledonian afternoon. Lighten up!

What's so good about this place? The setting on the waterfront, and the fact that it's neatly distanced from the rather touristy, snooty side of Edinburgh.

And the bad? An air of tiredness and ... if one were in Paris, ennui. Of course, if one were in Paris, ennui would be classy.

What's in the neighbourhood? One serious restaurant - Scottish uber-chef Tom Kitchin's Michelin-starred The Kitchin; genuinely cool local bistros; the former royal yacht Britannia, moored at the disconsolate Ocean Terminal mall, and Leith, a real community. Even if, at this time of year, there was not much sunshine in.

Toiletries: The usual hotel kit.

Food and drink: Breakfast options are hearty and unimaginative. The evening menu leans on steak, lamb rack and variations on a burger theme. Wines are grouped by price; 45 quid for a Kim Crawford sav that retails in my Mt Eden supermarket for ... don't get me started.

The bed? Killer. As in, is it 9 already, if I don't get up and get organised, I'll have missed most of the day because it'll be dark by 4.

A room with a view: Overlooking the newly-developed boat harbour, waterside apartments, bistros. Free entertainment on Saturday night after Hibs, the local football team, were relegated.

Bathroom? On the small side but a stonking shower. With the bed, the beginning and end of a good hotel room for me.

Noise: No. Not even on a Saturday night after ... sorry, Hibs fans, didn't mean to bring that up again.

Room service? Don't ask me. I'm not a room service kind of guy. I crave company when I'm travelling on my own, 20,000km from home and friends.

Value for money? Don't know what the accommodations of a superior twin would have cost under previous arrangements, but Edinburgh is notoriously expensive and this is easier on the wallet than most.

Exercise facilities? There were, which is not always the case in a UK hotel, so a bonus point there.

Perfect for: Business and politics, it's near the movers and shakers. Mature and well-off travellers. Romance? Not negotiable these days.

Would I return? Dunno. Enjoyed my stay but canna' see that aye wou'd wa'k faive hunndret mailes jus' to see mysel' outside your door.

CHECKLIST

Malmaison is at 1 Tower Place, Edinburgh, EH6 7BZ United Kingdom. Phone +44 844 693 0652.

- NZ Herald

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