Unapologetically at odds with its soot-stained neighbours, Edinburgh’s Market Street Hotel is two steps of a Highland fling from Waverley train station, Princes Street and the Royal Mile. Aye, there’s a smattering of tartan here, but Scandi interiors, weathered walls, stylishly traditional sliding shutters and angular floor-to-ceiling windows keep things fresh. Plenty of rooms with a view provide vantages over the city’s brooding architecture – not least the nook-and-cranny-filled seventh-floor bar where decadent afternoon tea is bolstered by 20 varieties of champagne.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability and an additional cost. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £108.25, including tax at 20 per cent.
You can purchase breakfast at the seventh-floor Nor’ Loft, or opt to hang a Christmas stocking-reminiscent ‘breakfast bag’ outside your door – it will be filled by morning, as if a pastry-laden Santa has paid a visit.
Nor’ Loch – the inspiration behind Nor’ Lofts name – is one of Edinburgh’s lost lochs. Now replaced by Princes Street Gardens, it was a natural defence against invaders looking to claim Edinburgh’s Old Town (we’re talking way, way back in the day).
At the hotel
Bar with champagne lounge, ground-floor coffee shop and co-working space. In rooms: WiFi, TV with Chromecast, Nespresso machine and milk frother, locally-roasted coffee from Gordon Street, Canton tea, Dyson hairdryer, ghd straighteners, umbrellas, Votary bath products. All rooms other than ‘Cozy’ include a free minibar.
Our favourite rooms
This is Edinburgh’s tourist central, but you’ll be pleased to discover that all rooms are blissfully quiet and decked out in soft, soothing tones: white oak flooring, pale green headboards and thistle-design-topped tables – quite the contrast to the bathrooms, which favour black marble, solid stone basins and industrial taps. Each room is suited and booted with a Dyson hairdryer ghd straighteners and vegan Votary products, and most have a free minibar. Opt for a Roomy Bath for a post-pavement-pounding soak, or a Vista room for north-facing views over the city streets. Splash out on the Alma suite for a cloud-like super king-size bed, lounge space with fireplace, private roof terrace, a bath tub and two rainfall showers. Oh, and a bottle of champagne, on the house.
A good scotch deserves a fitting backdrop, so bring a dram-size hip flask to take to the peak of Arthur’s seat.
There are five fully accessible rooms with vibrating alarm pillows, visual alarms, roll-in showers with grab bars, hand held and adjustable shower heads, portable shower seats and wheelchair-width doorways.
Children are welcome, but the hotel is best set up for couples and groups.
Bathroom products are by vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably packaged Votary, who produce in small batches to reduce waste. Furniture is from Saintluc’s eco-sustainable collection, and reusable glass bottles are used throughout the hotel.
There’s little more soul-lifting than a dose of Scottish sunshine, so head to the terrace when the temperatures allow.
Go for crushed velvet to match the statement armchairs, or all-white ensembles when there’s sunshine on Leith.
Rather than fully-fledged lunch and dinner menus, Market Street Hotel goes big on breakfast and offers small plates during the remaining hours of the day, up until 10pm. The leisurely breakfast includes pastries, homemade granola, fresh fruits, artisan bread, cheese and cured meats and smoked salmon. The chefs will whip up hot dishes, too, from the open concept kitchen. Choose from a Scottish breakfast (complete with tattie scone and black pudding), traditional porridge with Maldon sea salt flakes, or avocado toast. Coffee is made with the Nor’ Loft roast from downstairs Gordon Street café, and champagne is always, always available. Finally, the all-day menu of features delectable smalll plates such as charcuterie and cheese from IJ Mellis, courgette and feta fritters and N’duja and fennel mussels.
We don’t often wax lyrical about hotel bars (hic), but when we do… they look a little something like Nor’ Loft. The space is flooded with light from the full-height windows that run the length of the bar, and that same glass frames the view, which sweeps from Calton Hill to the castle. There are 20 varieties of champagne behind the centrepiece bar, and most are sold by the glass. Pop a bottle no matter the occasion (in fact, there’s no occasion necessary) – choose from bijou, family-run favourites or prestige producers. There are champagne cocktails to try too – we like ‘From Reims with love’ (Courvoisier cognac, Grand Marnier, Campari, brown sugar and champagne) and Delightfully Scottish (Edinburgh Gin raspberry, Chambord, Crème de cassis and champagne), shaken and stirred by the Scottish-to-the-hilt bartenders.
Food is served until 10pm, and last orders are at 11pm most evenings, extended to midnight on the weekend.
Market Street Hotel is perched between Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town, just across the cobbles from Waverley train station.
Edinburgh airport is a 30-minute drive from the hotel, or jump on the Airlink Tram just outside arrivals. Jump off again at Princes Street, a 10 minute walk from Market Street.
You’re moments from the mainline trains: Waverley station is a 30-second stroll across the road. Travel sustainably with Lumo, electric trains that are kinder to the environment (www.lumo.co.uk).
There’s an Apcoa car park a short walk from the hotel, and you’ll get a 20 per cent discount if you show your ticket at the hotel reception.
Worth getting out of bed for
You couldn’t have a much better base for exploring than Market Street Hotel. Spend some time along the Old Town cobbles – the City Art Centre and Fruitmarket Gallery are right next door, and the row of arches on East Market Street house a string of boutique cafés and shops. We’d be remiss to not mention 12th-century Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, both only minutes from the hotel. Blow off any post-whiskey-tasting cobwebs with a hike up Calton Hill. While you’re up there, see what’s on at the Collective Gallery, where modern art is displayed. Don’t skip the chance to scale Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that rises up behind Holyrood Palace, offering climbers views from the Pentland Hills to the Firth of Forth. Walkers can make for the Water of Leith path too, which winds for miles to picturesque Dean Village – a neighbourhood brimming with waterside restaurants and traditional pubs.
For a casual lunch in the heart of the New Town, try mod-Scottish eatery Badger & Co. This modern, Wind in the Willows-inspired restaurant has plenty of Scottish produce on its menu, including Aberdeen Angus beef burgers and Tweed Valley lamb. Timberyard, housed in a 19th-century prop warehouse, is the place for a contemporary, fine-dining dinner. Choose from a four-, six- or eight-course menu, served in a long dining room bearing the hallmarks of Victorian industry. For a truly Scottish meal, book a table in the stone cellars at Stac Polly, where the tables are set with flickering candles and the chairs are clad in Bute tweed. Ward off the Sunday scaries with a sharing roast (and trio of desserts) at the quaint Queens Arms pub.
Head to Scandi café Soderberg for the cult cardamom or cinnamon buns, or walk to Chapter One coffee shop for plant-based coffees and cakes.
Superlative tipples can be had at the Register Club, a refined cocktail bar on the fourth floor of the Edinburgh Grand. Craft-brew connoisseurs might pay a visit to the Hanging Bat Beer Café, which serves its own ales alongside an extensive list of global brews.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this design-led hotel in Scotland and unpacked their bottles and bottles (and more bottles) of champagne, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Market Street Hotel in Edinburgh…
This design-led hotel is as sleek as can be, and attention to detail is evident the moment you step into the seventh-floor reception. Amsterdam-based FG Stijl and London-based JM architects were inspired by the ‘brutal beauty’ (their words, not ours) of Edinburgh’s character and history, and chose to reflect it in a tapestry of wood, stone, glazed bricks, heritage wool and tartan (there are more than 28 variations throughout the rooms, lovingly crafted by the neighbouring Tartan Weaving Mill). The outcome is a modern take on a Scottish baronial fort, and it complements the Old Town skyline that it completes – nodding to the past without imitating it. Inside, mirrors and signature lighting add textural depth, and five floating copper fireplaces replicate the first notes of local belter ‘The Flower of Scotland’. The rooms are a canvas of oak and locally sourced stone, offset by modern design touches from Fritz Hansen and Saintluc. Wooden shutters replace blinds (inspired by the traditional windows fittings of the Old Town), fabric wallpapers add warmth and there’s the occasional flicker of tartan; an occasional touch of tweed. Then there’s the beds – ooh, the beds – deep, cloud-like white cotton cocoons, and the cosy red slippers, made to match the vintage Roberts radios. You’ll find everything you need for a weekend away, and nothing you don’t: because while there’s style in spades, there’s substance too.