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The Bonham – A Boutique Hotel in Edinburgh:
Where do you feel most comfortable when you travel? For some people, it’s the congruity of an international brand, for others, the knowledge that the bill won’t break the bank. For me, it’s that feeling of coming home which you get from a good boutique hotel. Where the concierge knows you by name and where they remember your favourite room when you return the next year. The Bonham Hotel is now on my list as somewhere to stay when I visit Edinburgh and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Just off the West End in a pretty, quiet garden square and just a little closer to Haymarket than Edinburgh Waverley, the hotel has all the advantages of a central location and none of the disadvantages of being on the main street. In a lively city with a thriving nightlife, it’s a real find.
Three separate townhouses built in 1872, the Bonham is now a charming hotel with 49 en-suite bedrooms. In 1939 the houses were sold and became known as the ‘Private Clinic’ – a private medical practise specialising in maternity care which operated for twelve years. Imagine how many babies were born during that period! Some of them still come back to the hotel and are fondly known as ‘Bonham Babies’. The buildings were eventually sold to the University of Edinburgh and operated as halls of residence for overseas students. After being sold, the buildings were remodelled and opened as one of the first boutique hotels in Edinburgh in 1998.
What impressed me most was that the moment I walked through the door, I knew I was in Scotland and yet there were no stuffed hunting trophies on the wall, no tartan carpets and only a very respectable number of whisky bottles in the bar. I suspect the ‘Scottishness’ came from the jewel and berry colour scheme, the elegant wood panelling, the high ceilings and, of course, the view. To the front of the hotel, views over Drumsheugh gardens – to the rear, over Dean Village.
My room was large, elegantly decorated in shades of silver and pale green. A massive king sized bed, comfy sofa and great views over the gardens distracted me from work. But, had I felt the need to catch up with emails or just browse the web, there was a good size desk. Most importantly there were plenty of sockets, including USB plugs either side of the bed and the WiFi worked perfectly.
In the bathroom, a large tub with over bath shower. Pristine white tiles and loads of fluffy white towels. Toiletries were NOIR by the White Company.
High ceilings and plenty of space helped to make this a tasteful and charming space. And, given I’d arrived really early and still been given access to my room while it was pouring with rain outside, I drew a hot bath and relaxed.
I’d arranged to meet family that evening for dinner in No. 35, The Bonham Hotel’s restaurant. The menu is clearly seasonal and there are plenty of local ingredients too, from Orkney scallops to 35-day aged beef from the Tweed Valley. There’s also an excellent Market Menu with a choice of two or three dishes at each course. My Scottish heritage rejoiced in the pricing – 2 courses for £18.50 or 3 for £22.50. And, at lunchtime, you can enjoy three courses for £25 with a half bottle of wine thrown in.
The options on the Market Menu sounded good enough for us to eat mostly from there.
Courgette and basil soup with parmesan croutons was deliciously fragrant and comforting – an excellent way to start the meal.
But the winning starter for us was the slow cooked duck egg with British asparagus, cured ham and grain mustard dressing which looked stunning and came with that perfect oozing yolk and apparently tasted delicious.
Of the main courses, the free-range chicken ballotine stood out. While I wasn’t totally convinced by the black garlic, the rest of the plate was delicious – early summer peas, broad beans, asparagus and morel mushrooms complementing the tender and moist chicken.
Others enjoyed a generous portion of beer battered cod with hand cut chips, peas and tartar sauce. Classic stuff well done really isn’t a bad idea.
For dessert, we shared a vanilla crème brulée and a portion of chocolate and salted caramel cheesecake – both delicious.
This is the kind of restaurant that is perfect for a family get together, or for that matter, for ‘staying in’ if you’ve been sightseeing all day. The food is delicious, beautifully presented and the space is really comfortable. We’ll definitely be back for Sunday Lunch, which sounds something of a steal.
After a good night’s sleep, it seemed that it was only moments before I was back in No. 35 for breakfast. The Full Scottish was the obvious option but I did let myself down and really couldn’t eat it all. The hotel has a great buffet and a range of hot options including Scottish specialities like porridge, kippers or haggis and tattie scones with your full Scottish.
The Bonham Hotel is on the edge of three quite distinct parts of Edinburgh. Of course, I know and love the New Town, that beautiful Georgian part of Edinburgh which was the result of an architectural competition in 1766. I still don’t really know much about the West End, the far end of New Town which leads on to Haymarket.
I just had time to explore Dean Village. Walk down a steep cobbled street a few minutes from the hotel and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a quaint set of warehouses and old mills. You could so easily be walking back in time. Dean Village was a successful grain milling area for more than 800 years. It was known as the “Water of Leith Village” and one time there were eleven working mills there, driven by the strong currents of the Water of Leith, the main river running through Edinburgh.
Apart from Dean Village, the Hotel is a stone’s throw from the Edinburgh Gin Distillery and if I’d had just a little more time I’d have booked myself a tour. And, it’s a few minutes walk from the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery too. Or if you prefer, there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants within an easy walk of the hotel.
The Bonham is a stunning and charming boutique hotel in central Edinburgh. Somewhere I’ll happily return to. Apart from the beautiful decor, excellent food and comfortable rooms, there’s a personal level of service that is rare these days – and for me, that’s the sign of a great boutique hotel.
The Bonham Hotel
35 Drumsheugh Gardens,
Edinburgh EH3 7RN
Telephone 0131 226 6050
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