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Market Street Hotel in a nutshell
Edinburgh’s first member of the Design Hotels group opened this summer, a slick and slender 98-room pad in the city centre that’s topped with a panoramic champagne lounge and terrace.
A slim, striking building nudging up to Waverley train station, the medieval Old Town on one side, the Georgian New Town on the other, it couldn’t be more central. From the outside, the architectural vision was ‘modern fortress,’ the facade clad in honey-hued stone and topped with a jagged, dark whinstone roof. Inside Dutch design studio FG Stijl also took the Scottish castle as inspiration with rough earthenware walls juxtaposed against clean, contemporary lines – the backdrop for custom-made design pieces and five floating copper fireplaces representing the first notes of ‘The Flower of Scotland’. The obligatory smattering of tartan gives another nod to Scottish heritage. A lift whisks you up to the 7th-floor reception and glamorous open-plan champagne lounge, Nor’Loft, and while the bedrooms on the lower floors are muted and low-key, the top-floor has undeniable wow-factor, especially as the sun sinks and Edinburgh’s skyline is illuminated through angular floor to ceiling windows.
Which room should I book at Market Street Hotel?
Rooms are divided by size and view – or lack of it. ‘Cozy’ rooms at the back of the hotel look out over the city’s medieval tenements. ‘Roomy’ rooms are roomier, ‘Roomy-Bath’ have a tub as well as monsoon shower – you get the idea. Book a ‘Vista’ room if you want a room with a view (and a pair of binoculars) out over the top of Waverley station to Prince’s Street. For the ultimate splurge the Alba Suite has a private outdoor terrace, fireplace, double shower and instead of binoculars, a telescope.
Rooms have a simple, structured style and soft, soothing tones: white oak flooring, pale green headboards, granite-grey marble ante-room bathrooms and stylish custom-made furniture including bespoke thistle design-topped tables. The lush toiletries are vegan brand Votary, rooms are kitted out with the full gamut of high-tech gadgets – and there’s a complimentary mini bar stocked with (mainly) Scottish treats. That’s a half bottle of white (Sancerre) and red wine, Highland Spring water, local Bon Accord lemonade and rhubarb soda and Tunnocks teacakes. The coffee is from Gordon Street café and roaster, underneath the hotel, and there’s an espresso machine and milk frother plus fresh milk in the fridge.
The food and drink
Along with breakfast, afternoon tea and a locally inspired, seasonal menu of ‘small bites’ are served in the Nor’ Loft champagne lounge. Afternoon tea is a reimagined and inventive ‘no cucumber sandwiches here’ feast; think cauliflower crackers with pickled cauliflower and beetroot brunoise, duck liver parfait with kumquat gel, feuille de brick and shallot jam followed by moreish bramble and cognac brownies with a champagne buttercream and Kir Royale trifle – with an optional champagne flight.
Champagne is the star, of course, of the champagne lounge. The champagne menu features small as well as prestige producers, with many vintages available by the glass. The house champagne is Justerini & Brooks 250th Anniversary Cuvee, with ‘opulent red fruit, honey and toasty’ notes, while small family producer, Diebolt Vallois’s champagne has notes of yeasty brioche and a citrusy freshness.
At night a champagne sundowner or aperitif can be accompanied by a range of small dishes created by the chef in the open kitchen; think arbroath smokie and goats cheese with dried onion, blackened corn, crushed walnut and sweetcorn puree or pungent Pernod-braised wild mushrooms on toast with tarragon emulsion and smoked sea salt. Or how about a brie and champagne fondue with toasted seeds, caramelized shallots and croutons? The lemon panna cotta with goats cheese snow, smoked walnut, frozen grape and port syrup is a dreamily decadent dessert.
If you’re pushed for time, hang the breakfast bag on your door and it will be filled by morning. That would be missing a trick, though. In Nor’ Loft the pantry is stocked with gooey pastries and muffins (including delicious, jam-filled vegan croissants), platters of smoked salmon, cheeses and cured meats, fresh fruit, artisan breads, mint-infused water and freshly squeezed juices and coffee from a machine (there are also mini bottles of soya and almond milk in the fridge). In the open kitchen the chef concocts dishes such as crushed avocado on toast with Seranno ham or smoked salmon and grilled grapefruit with Demerara sugar, whipped coconut, toasted coconut and mint oil.
What else can foodies do?
Edinburgh has a vibrant culinary scene, from the artisan coffee roasters on almost every corner to gourmet bagel joints, intimate supper club-style venues and Michelin-starred restaurants – the latest to join the ranks is Condita – and a liberal peppering of farmers markets. The original farmers market, a sea of striped stalls in the shadow of the castle, takes place each Saturday. Swing by Edinburgh Fermentarium’s stall and sample the kimchi or sauerkraut then buy a fresh scoby to make your own kombucha.
Is it family-friendly?
It’s not particularly geared towards families though cots can be put in rooms and babysitting can be arranged.
Head back to the Nor’ Loft for a nightcap…there’s more to the drinks menu than champagne. Royal Mile Whiskies has curated the list of single malts and a warming dram overlooking the darkened silhouette of the city’s skyline is as magical an experience as an aperitif earlier in the evening.
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Words by Lucy Gillmore
Photographs courtesy of Design Hotels™