Orkney soul and whisky business in the heart of the Scottish capital

A peaceful haven in the bustling heart of Edinburgh, The Dunstane Houses is an independent, family-run, five-star boutique hotel, over 2 Victorian townhouses set across the road from each other. Winner of The Best Boutique Hotel Experience In Scotland 2020 (and it’s easy to see why), The Dunstane offers modern luxury and a city centre location ever so slightly away from the noise and crowds of the main tourist traps. Standing at the gateway to old town Edinburgh but styled with the soul of the proprietors Orkney roots, The Dunstane offers sanctuary in the centre of the vibrant city.

With spacious hallways and a robust Covid-safety regimen, you can rest assured that you’ll be completely safe during your stay in one of The Dunstane’s 35 rooms and suites. From cosy singles to sprawling suites, every room is luxuriously plush and cosy (with the best bed I’ve ever slept on. Seriously), decorated in a neo-classical style with a touch of Orkney flair. The suites in particular are very special: feature baths, oversized headboards, crisp cotton sheets, and home made shortbread, no one could blame you for seeing little of the city when staying here.

A Neo-classical dream

The overriding feeling of everything at The Dunstane, from the bedding to the toiletries (whisky scented, no less), is one of quality. The care and consideration that has clearly been put into curating and creating this hotel is outstanding. From the decor, to the staff, the food, the experience as a whole, everything feels carefully thought out to maximise the guest experience. Even the scent as you walk through the front door feels designed to make you feel at home. Except maybe not my home, more like the home of a wealthy aunt with exquisite taste, but who is acutely aware that people just want to feel comforted sometimes. The type that wraps you up in a woollen blanket, hands you a glass of something strong and warming, and leaves you to relax by the fire.

Whisky business

The highlight of my trip to The Dunstane Houses was my whisky tasting experience with resident malt connoisseur, John Hindle. The hotel itself boasts a whisky cabinet of over 70 Scottish malts including rare and vintage drams that are very difficult to find elsewhere. We sampled 6 different whiskies whilst John regaled us with history, folklore, and technical knowledge peppered with a heavy dose of humour. Seasoned whisky drinkers and novices alike would no doubt enjoy an hour in John’s company, pontificating over heritage and flavour. If you’re feeling both brave and flush, you can enjoy a glass of exceedingly rare 40 year malt, so precious it is locked away from the bar, although the broad array of smokey, peaty malts and caramel soft drams will no doubt keep you satisfied if not.

Scottish Soul Food

Not just home to whisky, The Ba’ Bar bar and restaurant offers modern Scottish cuisine with that comforting, cosy feel synonymous with The Dunstane Houses. Whether you fancy Cullen Skink, whisky-slaked cranachan, or the ever-popular Dunstane burger, every dish is carefully prepared using the finest locally sourced produce and ingredients. If you’ve something to celebrate or just in the mood for a treat, then afternoon tea is a must. With a special selection of teas chosen for The Dunstane Houses by the Tea Lovers’ Company, freshly baked scones served with Heather Hills preserves, a delicious array of sandwiches and an abundance of desserts, you can relax and enjoy the ambience of The Ba’ Bar whilst the wonderfully attentive staff ensure you’re well fed and watered.

Our recommendations:

  • Whilst you won’t be disappointed with any of the rooms in The Dunstane Houses, the suites are spaciously exquisite and most certainly worth splashing out on.
  • Breakfast in bed is a must. The full Scottish breakfast is hearty and exactly what you need to set you up for a day exploring the city.
  • The whisky tasting experience is fantastic. John will talk you through everything, even if you’re a whisky newbie and haven’t tried it before. It’s entertaining, informative, and a one of a kind experience the quality of which I have not found anywhere else on my travels.
  • If you do opt to leave the comfort of your room for a wander around the city, Edinburgh Castle and the main tourist attractions are 5-10 minutes drive away. There are also excellent public transport links outside the hotel for those who need it.

How to book:

Debby Donnelly-Addison was hosted by The Dunstane Houses, a member of the Pride of Britain Hotels collection (never more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity). The five-star Victorian town houses in Edinburgh’s West End boast 35 bedrooms and an all-day dining restaurant. An overnight stay costs from £174 per room (two sharing) including full Scottish breakfast. The whisky tasting is priced £40 pp. Contact Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).

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