Happy Holidays, from Ireland and Britain Observed!


Come with us as we explore what’s new in Scotland, and show you some highlights that you won’t find elsewhere. As always please do share this newsletter with a friend.

There are just so many exciting and unique properties opening in Scotland soon. Here are just a few of the ones that really excite us.


The Fingal, Edinburgh

Docked next to its famous sister, the Royal Yacht Britannia, The Fingal provides the ultimate luxury experience for old salts: a floating 5 star hotel. The 23 beautifully styled cabins, all named after Stevenson lighthouses, are inspired by Fingal’s rich maritime heritage.
With a cabin for every occasion, guests can enjoy their own private balcony, a duplex cabin or for that special occasion the magnificent Skerryvore Suite, a penthouse with a separate sitting room and private decking area for watching the sun go down. All of this just a short stroll from two Michelin starred restaurants in vibrant Leith.

The above photo shows the past, present and future of the Fingal. Before being turned into a 5 star hotel the Fingal was used as a canvas by Ciara Phillips, dubbed a “Dazzle Ship” for the Edinburgh Art Festival 2016.

The Fingal, Edinburgh

Iwan and Manuela Wirth, the founders of contemporary art dealing powerhouse Hauser & Wirth, have been hard at work for 2 years on a new project that is finally unveiled. The Fife Arms Hotel, Braemar has been revamped, giving a unique and artistic take on a luxury hotel.

Opened in the first week of December, each of the 48 bedrooms have their own distinct identity. They are dedicated to a local place, person or event, for instance Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote his classic Treasure Island in nearby Braemar, and the poet Lord Byron ,who spent time in Braemar to recover from scarlet fever in 1796.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Wirth project without a deep appreciation for contemporary art, the Fife Arms features works by leading artists such as Zhang Enli, Guillermo Kuitca and James Prosek.

Not only have they invested heavily in the decor, but also in the team running the Fife Arms. Bringing in Federica Bertolini as General Manager, who was previously at the Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes, Cornwall, and Robert Cameron who was chef at Fortnum & Mason in Dubai.

St Andrew’s Square & The Edinburgh Grand

Gleneagles’ 30 bedroomed outpost on St Andrew’s Square in Edinburgh, 3 minutes from The Blamoral, is another place to look out for – but not for a couple of years. Buchan House, on the opposite corner St Andrews Square will be opening at the same time as a 72 bedroomed Malmaison. However what is already up and running on St Andrews Square is The Edinburgh Grand – and Grand it is. Our second visit, we got to see even more rooms, including the Director’s Suite and the Penthouse Suite, both of which had been occupied on our previous visit.

The three super king-size bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms looked immensely comfortable but their design was not that amazing. The views however are – from Edinburgh Castle to the South West to the Fife Bridges to the North West, the city is spread out below you like google street view. The Director’s Suite would definitely suit a Golden Age Hollywood director – theatrical double doors in the bedchamber open into the saloon, which could comfortably hold 70 or more people, and has a table that seats a dozen, a couple of sofas and several armchairs.

The 50 apartments start with Capital Studios, which are bedrooms with a kitchenette, sofa and a clever coffee table with a top that lifts for dining. Move on to one or two-bedroom versions for more space; Grand apartments offer better views.

Bathrooms update Art Deco with big drench showers, and fresh-white and jade-green tiles. Some are not quite sufficiently shut away from the rest of the room for those who like our bathrooms to be a place of private solitude. Faux-marbled countered kitchenettes are brand-heavy (Siemens and Dualit appliances) and thoughtfully equipped, with the likes of ice buckets, demitasse cups, pizza cutters and even washer dryers . We can arrange a private chef, but would recommend heading down to the Square for breakfast. Though most of the closest usual suspects for breakfast (Harvey Nick’s, Jenners and The National Portrait Gallery restaurants) do not open till 10 am, the Waverly Mall bustles with breakfasting commuters from an early hour.

You might forget this isn’t a hotel when you’re greeted by earnestly attentive concierges in 1960s matinee idol tweed jackets, who can provide everything from hair straighteners to rice steamers on request. But do remember there’s no breakfast and no dinner. Your room receives a light daily service and top-up of tea bags, instant coffee and sugar. You’ll have to forage for more Nespresso pods and fresh milk yourself and you can’t call room service – there isn’t any (but they will accept deliveries from your favourite supermarket).

And if you need the buzz of an air conditioner (really not necessary ever in Edinburgh) only 5 of the apartments have air conditioning.

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