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Travel: Discovering the perfect city hideaway in Edinburgh

© SYSTEMMalmaison Edinburgh.
Malmaison Edinburgh.

We had big family travel plans for 2020. There was the special treat of a summer holiday in Mexico to look forward to, followed by a trip to Copenhagen for my wife’s birthday, and then another city break in the winter.

Alas, none of that was to be.

As Covid swept the globe it became very obvious that there were more important things to worry about than getting a bit of sunshine. That said, spending months cooped up at home balancing work and schooling took its toll and, by the time summer turned to autumn, my wife and I were desperate for a break.

Thank goodness Malmaison and the glorious city of Edinburgh came to our rescue.

The Malmaison chain operates a number of luxury boutique hotels spanning the length and breadth of the UK. It cut the ribbon on its Edinburgh City hotel in December 2019, and it’s here we arrived on a clear autumn day, ready for relaxation.

It’s all about mood and opulence at Malmaison Edinburgh City and, though we were nervous about our first foray back into the real world since the beginning of lockdown, the brilliant staff put us at ease immediately.

Malmaison has taken the necessary steps to ensure the safety of guests without sacrificing any of the special touches that give the place the aura of being a safe, garden-themed haven away from the rest of the world.

In just a few minutes we were swiping the key card and entering our room, where the wow factor continued.

We were staying in a club room, which managed to be both cavernous and cosy. Panoramic windows offered us sweeping views across the Firth of Forth, and a sprawling bed and plush bathroom with monsoon shower really made us feel we had discovered a gem. The complimentary whisky miniatures were a nice touch too.

Unpacked and away from the bustle of family life for the first time in months, we were ready to head out and make the most of our time.

Sitting in picturesque St Andrew Square, right in the centre of the New Town and just a 10-minute walk from the Old Town, you’d be hard pressed to find a hotel with a better location from which to explore the capital.

Edinburgh has always been one of our favourite places. But, as we walked around New Town’s wide-open streets and then headed to the old town for a drink or two in a beer garden in the shadow of the castle, we felt a fresh appreciation for what must be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Whether you want to soak up some culture at the National Museum of Scotland, delve into the city’s grizzly past on a walking tour, shop ’till you drop or sample some fine dining, you’ll find no end of possibilities. After our walk we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, and then it was downstairs to the restaurant for dinner.

Chez Mal offers a unique twist on classic French dining in a luxurious, indoor garden setting. Tables had been spaced out according to social-distancing guidelines, while we ordered food from downloadable menus on our phone, continuing the feeling of safety without ruining the experience.

We were so impressed by the hotel that our expectations for dinner were sky high, and I’m happy to say the food lived up to our hopes. Highlights were crisp calamari, a perfectly cooked salmon fillet and a silky crème brulee.

After some expertly mixed cocktails at the stylish bar it was time to turn in and, as I climbed into the super-king-sized bed I felt truly relaxed for the first time in ages.

We woke to another bright autumn morning and headed downstairs for breakfast, where all the usual continental options were on offer, alongside an extensive hot menu. A delicious full Scottish, coffee and fruit juice set us up for the day.

It says everything that we felt more than a little sad on checkout. Malmaison has created a tranquil hideaway in the middle of Edinburgh that has given us a timely reminder of how much our back yard has to offer.

I don’t think I’d ever uttered the phrase “staycation” until this year. After this experience I have a feeling we’ll be planning our next one before too long.

P.S. 

Malmaison actually operate two hotels in Edinburgh. If you fancy sampling the same luxurious experience away from the bustle of the city centre, then their waterfront hotel in Leith might be the place for you.

Factfile:

Malmaison offers savings of up to 33% in its autumn sale, with Edinburgh rooms available from £72 per night. malmaison.com. Before you book, please consult the latest travel advice at gov.scot and gov.uk