2020 was meant to be the year I finally got to say “I do” before jetting off to somewhere fancy and far-flung on the exotic honeymoon of dreams. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Although I was lucky enough to walk down the aisle, those visions of a tropical honeymoon – sipping cocktails on soft white sand, turquoise water glistening under the hot sun – were soon quashed by a global pandemic and countless travel bans…
But just as we were about to give up and accept that our honeymoon would end up being spent in Earlsfield catered by Deliveroo, we thought why not make the most of the amazing options the UK has to offer, and try somewhere a little closer to home? So, we swapped the Maldives for Scotland and embarked on an adventure to the land of tartan, Gerard Butler, shortbread and the Loch Ness Monster. It also happens to be home to one of the most beautiful family-run boutique hotels, The Dunstane Houses, which made our Scottish mini-moon the trip of a lifetime.
Tucked away just outside Edinburgh’s city centre and occupying two stately Victorian villas, The Dunstane Houses has pride of place on a residential street boasting views of the iconic Edinburgh cityscape and the rolling Pentland Hills. It also happens to be home to some of the largest (and chicest) suites in the city, all named after places in Orkney – the owner’s homeland. Your needs are tended to before you even step foot through its doors thanks to a pre-arrival questionnaire that covers everything from your in-room drinks preferences to scheduling housekeeping around you and your day.
The relaxed “mi casa su casa” approach makes you feel like you’re staying in the grand house of an old friend, and everywhere you look you’ll find major #interiorsinspo. The perfect mix of old antiques and touches with new, modern design, it’s all plush Afghan carpets, intricately corniced ceilings, neutral tones, statement wallpaper, huge bathtubs (more on that in a moment), and artworks curated by local artist Nicky Brooks. I left with a list of all the paint colours I’d be stocking up on for our new flat, and my camera roll was full of snaps of pretty lamps and cool details. In a nutshell, you’ll want to move in.
But the real showstopper had to be our stunning abode – the Dunstane Suite. Soaring ceilings, a big bay window with views out over lush green hills, a sumptuous velvet sofa, striking peacock-feather wallpaper, enormous bed, high thread-count sheets, and a breath-taking copper bathtub big enough to fit the whole family – it ticked every box and then some. But whatever room you opt for (there are 35 uniquely styled options to choose from), you’ll be treated to the same level of comfort and luxury. Every room has a cloud-like Vispring bed, plush furnishings, Noble Isle toiletries, and nods to its Scottish roots – tartan fabrics and jar of homemade shortbread included.
When we did manage to tear ourselves away from soaking in the tub (which sounds easier said than done), it was the smells of the meals being served downstairs that enticed us out of our suite. Start with a cocktail created by the amazing mixologist at the Ba’ Bar – who will make you the perfect concoction based on your preferences – before taking a seat in the lounge meets dining area next door. Reinventing Scottish cuisine, the menu showcases the best local and Orcadian ingredients and puts a Dunstane twist on modern classics. Just be sure to save room for the Granny Smith apple and Stoat’s oats crumble – actual heaven in a bowl.
If you do indulge in one too many crumbles or Orkney cheese platters (guilty), the hotel is perfectly positioned for working up a sweat. Explore one of the numerous walking routes and running tours nearby, or even try your hand at hiking, sailing or rock-climbing thanks to many unique experiences on offer. Or, if you’re after some r&r, the Dunstane Houses also has a partnership with the Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf Astoria, where you can get pampered to perfection. What more could you possibly ask for? Exactly.
words by Frankie Rozwadowska
For more information or to book, head to thedunstane.com.