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Wednesday 12 September 2012

Sluttery Travels: Hotel Du Vin, Edinburgh

Oh I was so smug. So very smug indeed. Smug in the snug.
The year after we did a student play at the Edinburgh Festival, my friend Charlotte moved in to a flat in Lambeth. “It’s great!” she said. “It’s built on an old lunatic asylum. Lovely.”

Having only just moved back to London after 12 years in the country, I was less enamoured by Charlotte’s penchant for stories – London was too massive, too weird – but like everyone who falls in love with our capital, I soon fell in love with converted lunatic asylums too.

This came in very handy the other weekend when I stayed in just such a converted lunatic asylum, the Hotel du Vin in Edinburgh (wonderfully, one of its private dining rooms is called Bedlam). I went up to Edinburgh for a joyful reunion with my other half who had been performing at the Fringe for the month.

(I met this dog on the train up there. This has nothing to do with my stay at the hotel, but it was a brilliant dog.)
Brilliant whippet
For our last night in Edinburgh, we left his flat and hopped up the road to the Hotel Du Vin. Slap bang between Bristo Square (Udderbelly, Pleasance, Gilded Balloon, Teviot) and Cowgate (Underbelly), I may as well have just used it as the pivot for my pre-booked shows.

And reader, I got upgraded. This is something I've always dreamed about, but being as I only ever fly to Europe, on EasyJet, the most I can usually hope for is bagsying an emergency exit seat with extra leg room.

This bed is 90% sleigh

THIS IS THE KRUG SUITE, EVERYONE. Complete with a framed, squashed bottle of Krug above the bed. This is one of the hotel's junior suites and had its own little balcony overlooking the courtyard. You can go all the way to 11 with the mega suites, which have emperor beds and hand-peeled grapes* etc, or start off with a double for £135 which comes with a free-standing bath and plush monsoon shower.

I heroically resisted cranking up a massive credit card bill ordering bottles of it on room service, and instead demurely put Whitney on speaker and danced around the room in my pants.
This is only part - part! - of the bathroom. Just round the corner is a shower so long that after, seven attempts to get it in shot, I had to give up and have short running races in it instead. The one drag with the bathroom is that it's open-plan. No. If there's a loo, have a door, otherwise you are essentially in a very upper-class stable.
This bath was immense in all the correct ways. I love roll top baths like I love blue cheese: if possible, all the time. I watched Sky News while reading one of the room's magazines, in a cloud of bubbles. Luxury.
When I finally managed to extract myself from the wonders of the bathroom to meet the chap for supper, I saw this. I've long wished to see one of these chandeliers in the wild, and I gave it a nod of recognition, like a game hunter acknowledging a particularly majestic lion.
Aperitifs a-go-go
I can only apologise for the lack of shots of the bar - mezzanine, over the top of the restaurant - but Phil Jupitus and a bunch of comedians were having nice, quiet drinks over the other side and I would have felt like a total idiot taking photos. Also, it would probably have got into one of those situations where I turn beetroot and go, "I'm sorry, I'm not actually taking your photo, I'm taking a photo of the bar," and he wouldn't have believed me, and it would have all been very awkward. Or not. I am probably making too much out of this.

What I really want to say is that the bar is excellent, as are the staff, who were happy to whisk me up an off-menu (and very good) Sidecar. The lovely pistachios and olives were included, and at £12.50 for the round, it was good value.
Some passing ice cream gremlins. The left-hand gremlin dreamed up the wonderful places to include in our Pandora's Box Guide to Leeds!
We had supper in the bistro by the window which was hilarious as each of the girls in my boyfriend's sketch group passed during, meaning we got to wave excitedly and point at bits of our supper like the Queen with bad table manners.

You can't not do wine at HdV - it's rather the point. Here, above the restaurant, you could see vaulted ceilings covered in dusty bottles. Wonderful. I had a glass of Viognier, and the chap had a glass of red - I forget which, sadly, because it was the sort of red that smells and tastes so fantastic that you wonder why you bother spending a tenner in the supermarket at all.

Food was good. I had some seriously lovely dressed crab and the chap's smoked salmon was served in a whirl of egg, capers, gherkin and shallot, which sounds deranged, but made smoked salmon properly exciting again. We both followed with ribeye steaks - Hotel du Vin does steaks really well, and these were Donald Russell goodies. Delicious. After supper, we slapped ourselves out of a potential beef coma and went end-of-Edinburgh for drinks with the girls before passing out in the Krug Suite's tremendously comfy bed.

The next morning I reclined in the whisky snug with a coffee. There was so much leather I didn't know what to do with myself - leather and tartan. It was incredibly comforting, and the sort of decor that I would love to be able to pull off at home. Let's have a little close-up on that pile of suitcases/cowboy.
Super. This was such a fantastic treat for a weekend in Edinburgh, and if you don't have the £175+ needed for a stay, a drink in the bar or dinner comes very much recommended. Proof, again, that you can't go wrong with a Hotel Du Vin. Or, as I found out twice during my visit, wood-fired haggis pizza.

Kat was a guest of Hotel Du Vin and is now essentially ruined for rooms that aren't named after Champagnes.

*grapes not an actual thing


  1. Kat! This is the greatest review of all time! Hotel du Vin in Cambridge ruined me for all other hotels as well. They had me at the roll-top bath where you could recline and watch telly and look out of the window and drink tea, simultaneously.

    1. Agreed. I am helpless in the face of a roll top bath. There was very nearly a disaster, as I put all the bubble bath in and then went off. It ran VERY QUICKLY and when I peered in again, it was full and there was nearly a The Thrill of It All foam explosion.

  2. Oh I adore HDV and Edinburgh, next time I'm there I'm definitely popping in for a cocktail (and to eat ALL the olives)


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