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January 2019

Issue: January 2019

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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
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A heritage fling

1 January 2019

This elegant Georgian property marries a storied past with serious gourmet credentials, making it the perfect pied-à-terre in the Scottish capital’s New Town

Nestled in a quiet cobbled street across two adjoining townhouses, this handsome 28-room hotel could easily pass for a private residence. A home-from-home (albeit a Grade A-listed one), Nira Caledonia eschews the formality of some of the city’s other boutique hotels in favour of a more personalised and intimate approach.

Built by celebrated Scottish architect William Playfair, the hotel was also the not-so-humble abode of 19th-century bon vivant and Scottish literary figure John Wilson (pseudonym Christopher North) who coun-ted William Wordsworth as a close friend. Its UNESCO-listed New Town postcode places it amongst some of Scotland’s finest neoclassical and Georgian period architecture. Locations don’t get much better, with the Royal Botanical Gardens and Princes Street a mere 15-minute stroll away.

2018 marked the hotel’s reopening after a nine-month-long US$1.8 million refurbishment, following a fire that swept through all five floors. Thankfully, its grand spiral staircase and floor-to-ceiling sash windows were spared, as well as ornate cornicing and other priceless, period features. The fresh colour palette and vibrant prints by Jeffrey’s Interiors in nearby Stockbridge, add some contemporary flair. And whilst its five room categories; Jacuzzi Suite, Suite, Executive Room, Petite Double and Single, range from a compact 17 sqm to a generous 40, there’s no compromise when it comes to luxury. Each room is endowed with hand-stitched 2,000 pocket-sprung British-made beds, sumptuous wallpapers, bespoke furniture and mirrored walled bathrooms with L’Occitane toiletries.

And in keeping with the hotel’s ‘no tartan policy’ there’s not a swatch of the cross-checkered plaid or stag’s head in sight. The restaurant, on the other hand, honours the hotel’s Scottish roots, with Loch Tay salmon, Shetland-grown mussels and Highland steak cooked on its award-winning Josper Grill. Named after the 19th-century magazine for which Wilson wrote, the Blackwood Bar and Grill’s also stocks 25 varieties of Scotch whisky, including the hotel’s very own distillation.

From the concierge

Stockbridge Sunday Market
Sister to the city’s popular Saturday Farmers market, this is a foodie’s playground, peddling everything from handmade scotch pies to craft beers. Try a traditional smokie; smoked haddock cooked in a giant barrel filled with peat

A 10-minute walk from the hotel is this delightful wine café, run by father and son team (and aspiring art collectors), Ronnie and Kyle Reid. They serve delicious sharing platters of cured meats and cheeses and Italian and Slovenian wines by the glass. Don’t leave without trying a Venetian cake (or two), made by renowned Italian pâtissier, Luigi Biasetto.

Dean Village
Set in the deep gorge of the city’s main river, this 12th-century pastoral oasis is a village within the city. Its eleven water-powered mills supplied most of the city’s flour at one time or another. You can take a leisurely stroll here from Stockbridge, following the Water of Leith Walkway under the ancient Queensferry road viaduct.

Words: Sarah Freeman