Family city breaks are full on fun, so your hotel base can make or break the trip. As a guest of Visit Scotland, Penny was pleasantly surprised to discover that having a family doesn’t rule out staying in a stylish boutique hotel, the Malmaison had much more in common with family life than she’d reckoned for…
The Malmaison is a former sailor’s hostel – or house of ill repute if you read the Malmaison introduction to the hotel – in trendy Leith, just a hop on the bus from the centre of Edinburgh. In my head Malmaison hotels are where you take the other half for a cheeky weekend break without the kids, but it turns out the Malmaison is a wonderful base for exploring Edinburgh as a family, here’s why.
- Malmaisons are edgy and risky, just like kids…and have a wicked sense of humour
2. The hotel is beautifully situated on the trendy and newly redeveloped Leith harbourside, surrounded by historic building, art galleries, shops and restaurants, with plenty of space to let off steam. It’s refreshing to be just a little bit out of the city, the double decker bus into Edinburgh was a short but fun adventure, but coming home to Leith, with it’s tranquil harbourside and inviting eateries was equally magical.
3. The rooms are large and comfy with lots of room to play and to chill.
4. Wine is ready and waiting, red and white, so no need to put a room service call in come witching hour. The mini bar and snacks are great too.
5. A tasty continental breakfast was included, with a £2 supplement for English breakfast, which is useful if you have one child who eats half a bowl of cocoa pops and nibbles a croissant for breakfast, while the rest of you want to fill up for a day’s sightseeing on Eggs Benedict, egg and soldiers or a fabulous omelette. There were other families in the hotel, and a mix of couples and business guests, so we didn’t feel out of place.
6. The interior is stylish, but there’s no air of pretension here, the staff and the feel is down to earth. No raised eyebrows when the kids ended up in a rugby tackle on the floor while waiting for the lift. We felt very at home amongst the oil paintings, tartan, leopard print cushions and oversize armchairs.
7. Leith is a foodie paradise, prepare to be surrounded by many impressive restaurants, seafood is a speciality and there are romantic champagne oyster bars, but there are also plenty of less formal places that are younger child friendly.
My husband stared longingly at the oh so romantic looking The Ship, but as I am vegetarian and as the kids don’t really embrace seafood, we opted for a lovely dinner and a game of monopoly instead at the Granary a few doors down.
8. Malmaison places have history, what big or little kid doesn’t love the idea of staying in an old castle or seaman’s hostel? We liked the boards around explaining the area and the building’s history. The open square is a great place to let off some steam, study the figures on the navy war memorial, jump on a canon or canon ball and look out for symbols of the past, like the angel carved above Malmaison’s door.
9. Leith harbour is full of things to discover, from gently meandering scupltures in the pavement, describing the river’s journey from here to Balerno, to sculptures and shipping relics like a lighthouse and whale harpoon. Mine had so many questions…
10. It’s just a ten minute walk to Ocean Drive Shopping Centre, Royal Yacht Britannia and the cinema, the cinema was ideal for an evening treat after a busy day exploring Edinburgh.
Voted the Trip Advisor Top UK Visitor Attraction in 2014, the Royal Yacht Britannia is also docked at Ocean Drive, so this was a perfect excursion for our last morning in Edinburgh, before heading off from the hotel at lunch time, to the airport. It was strangely fascinating to see where the Queen slept on her yacht, royalist or not, yachts are intriguing things to explore, and tea and scones in the Royal Deck tea room is a treat.
Spotting another Antony Gormley sculpture in the water made me very happy too, I wish we had more time to explore some art galleries.
Can I have an 11? It’s magical to be by the water while in Edinburgh, I know it is strictly the Firth of Forth, but it feels like the sea.
Lots more on what to do in Edinburgh to follow tomorrow, it’s a compact city, but jam packed with family friendly museums and attractions, shopping, cafes and sights.
Need to Know
Click the links for more information on:
Holidays in Scotland go to Visit Scotland
Royal Yacht Britannia – enter through the top floor of the shopping centre. TIP – Arrive early, we arrived as it opened and there were no queues, as we left before lunchtime the queues were out the door.