I have just returned from a night in the Malmaison, Edinburgh and I have to say it's one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in. Location: Ok it's not in the centre of Edinburgh, it's at Leith Docks and it's easily accessible by car and avoids the hassle of driving in the city centre. The car park is closed at the moment, but there's free parking around the hotel and we had no problems getting a space. Cost: We got a cheap deal on lastminute.com for £95 for a superior double room. The hotel's own rate is more expensive. The Room: Our room was on the top floor with a great view of the redeveloped dock area. There are no long corridors with lots of rooms, you feel private and hidden away - our room being up a winding staircase. The room itself was huge with four windows, the bed was also massive! The decor and furnishings were stylish and comfortable. There was a small tv and also a stereo system which was great (the hotel reception has a library of cds in case you don't have any). The bathroom was big, clean and modern and it was also really warm. There was a nice selection of aromatheraphy toiletries and big, fluffy, white towels were also on hand. The shower was very powerful: a definite bonus. There's a minibar in the room and it's full of treats (beware there's no price list in the room) we consumed much of it and paid the price!! The other bonus with the room was that it was quiet and felt very private. (room 42 so you know). Service: The staff at the hotel were all very friendly and helpful (albeit I needed some help with some accents!). We had a meal from the restaurant in our room and it arrived promptly and was still hot (unlike many hotel's room service). Overall I was very impressed with the hotel, the service and the food. I will definitely go again and have no hesitation in recommending it to others.
The Malmaison is the closest decent hotel to our office in Edinburgh but until now I had not been able to get a reservation. I had always wondered why since it is hardly located in what could be considered the most salubrious part of Edinburgh, being found in the old docks area of Leith and some distance from the city centre. Indeed, the building in which it is located has a fairly disreputable past, having been at one time in its existence the local doss house! So, a real rags-to-riches transformation. Leith is undergoing redevelopment similar to that being enjoyed by similar locations such as the Albert Dock in Liverpool, Salford Quays in Greater Manchester and, of course, Docklands in East London. This consists of brand new buildings and conversions of former warehouses. What has so far been achieved is impressive and the work continues. Indeed, the Malmaison itself is being extended. Currently it has an occupancy of 60 bedrooms. This is being extended to 100. Unfortunately, due to the work in progress their garage area is unavailable. Parking has to be on the street though this is not a problem as there seems to be no parking restrictions enforced in this area. Most new buildings in the area, which includes some fairly up-market apartments, enjoy their own private parking. The Malmaison is not easy to find. It is easy, as I initially did, to go straight past the street on which it is located and end up driving the new dockland estate. In fact Tower Place is at the end of a fairly wide cobbled street and the hotel is found facing out onto a pedestrianised area, just before the road turns sharp left. Go straight on and you end up in the dock! From then outside it looks typical of the sort of buildings found everywhere in Edinburgh, dark stone with, at ground level some fairly large, almost shopfront style windows. The entrance faces onto the pedestrian area and the Reception is currently just inside to the
right, though the plan is to move this as part of the building work. The immediate impression is of something just a bit different. The decoration style is Art Noveau and extremely well done. All the furniture is interesting and has been well chosen and the colours are very appropriate. The room that I had on my first stay was on the corner of the building. Very spacious with an entrance lobby area in which was located a large built-in wardrobe. A large bathroom contained a bath with shower. The usual shower curtain enclosed one side however, this one was a little different, showing the attention to detail. It was a double curtain, one layer hanging inside the bath rim and the other outside. This was successful in eliminating the usual problem of the curtain wrapping itself around you as you shower. The room had a complete entertainment centre, TV and Hi-fi. There was the usual minibar and a desk with modem access point for a laptop. The bed was large and very comfortable. On a subsequent stay, the room in which I stayed was smaller but just as well appointed and of more than adequate size. On the ground floor there is a café-bar, which serves a wide range of drinks including McEwans 70/- and 80/- beers. Although they do not serve food there they will arrange for you to have a room-service order delivered to your table if you are not in the mood for a full meal. Opposite the café-bar, across the reception lobby is the Brazerie. On this occasion I did not eat there in the evening, having arrived quite late after a long drive from Chesterfield up the M1 and the abysmal A1, quite the most depressing main road in Scotland. The local authorities seem to believe that restrictive speed limits and copious speed cameras are an acceptable substitute for building decent roads. Sorry, I'm getting on my hobbyhorse again. On the second occasion I did eat in the restaurant and can confirm t
hat the food is good, with a good choice on the menu or alternatively a fixed menu (which I chose) of good value and quality. If I have any minor complaints then, the lighting in the restaurant is just a little too subdued. If you are on your own and, for instance, have taken something to read, the low light levels make it a strain. Also, the wine menu has only full bottles or a restricted selection of quarter bottles, no halves. However, there does not seem to be a premium for the smaller bottles so I suppose you could order two. I have to say that the Malmaison is without doubt one of the best hotels in which I have ever stayed. It is one of a small chain of similarly branded hotels in other locations. If they are all up to this standard then I look forward to trying some of the others. This is not a cheap hotel. The rate I paid was a corporate rate and even that was on the high side although it does include the evening meal. However, I would consider it money well spent. If you are visiting Edinburgh and don't mind a £5 taxi ride to take you into the city centre then give the Malmaison a try.