For the homeliest home away from home, the boutique Dunstane Houses are run by the lovely Shirley and Derek from Orkney. Two buildings – Hampton and Dunstane - stand opposite each other, just 35 bedrooms between them. Each room gleams with its own personality, but all resonate with the owners’ Orcadian background.
On arrival, our man at the desk – we wouldn’t call him the concierge, as they all seem to work together – poured us a glass of whisky. Already, I’m relaxed. This tantalising dram was from Speyside, best for those who don’t like the peaty whiskies. It’s Scottish hospitality at its best.
Shirley and Derek have brought the fabrics and the colours of the islands with them – the bright ambers and deep-sea blues and greens, and Orkney, rather than Harris Tweed. The devil is in the detail here. Chesterfield sofas, Persian rugs, Roberts radios, Nespresso coffee machines, and the Noble Isle toiletries, which are infused with scents from around the UK, such as Dufftown whisky, which is also served at the bar. I rarely get excited about tiles, but the bathroom’s Fired Earth fixtures and fittings is a considered gesture.
There’s no expense spared here. The amber bath was a double-decker of a tub, deep enough to lose yourself in.
The Dunstane has undergone many transformations, but over the years, the staff have remained. The head chef has been here ten years, and he’s one of the most recent additions to the team. It’s a pleasurable, warming experience, like being in your favourite aunt’s living room, wrapped in soft wool, and warmed with whisky.
Adorned on the walls are intriguing photos of Orkney island life, some dating back to the 1900s. The art was curated by Nicky Brooks, who sourced most of the images and paintings through Scottish galleries, with the intent of supporting local artists. Even the bespoke framing was made in Edinburgh – rare for a hotel. An extended loft room has become popular for its working telescope, overlooking the Pentland Hills.
At dinner, the rain battered down on our window, while the tenderly lit restaurant complimented the sheen of the velvet furniture. Everything glows cosily here, and the Orkney palette makes it easy to forget you’re in the heart of a throbbing city.
The Ba’Bar is not really a bar, more of a huge living room, worth coming in for the coffee table books alone. An ornate whisky cabinet, crafted especially for the bottles, is a testament to the huge range of vintage and craft spirits, and extensive wine list.
For large groups or events, both Dunstane and Hampton House are available to hire out individually or as pair.
4 West Coates & 5 Hampton Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 5JQ