Leave it to one of the U.K.'s most forward-thinking chains to convert a Victorian-era asylum into this understated luxury property that feels steeped in history and lore despite its contemporary decor and trappings, like the fairy-lit archway you enter through. Situated next to the university, the hotel is surrounded by pubs and restaurants and is close to city attractions, yet it's easy to find peace within the warrenlike recesses of the building–something the former residents might not have achieved.
Check out the walls in some sections of the hotel for grisly reminders of its former function.
The 47 amply proportioned rooms are all individually designed, so do some research ahead of time; all, however, mix original architectural elements with stylish appointments like Egyptian linen-topped hand-sprung mattresses and plasma TVs. The rooms in the old building have more character than the new, although all have cute touches like featuring pictures of the wines they are named after. Three of the rooms are disabled access.
Four rooms have balconies, in all different room classes, so ask when booking.
All of the rooms have deep soaking tubs, and in the suites the freestanding beauties have tartan panels on the outside, a nice Scots touch.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The hotel lift doesn't reach all of the rooms - some of its fanciest rooms are perched on a floor only accessible by stairs.
A dinky lobby is located in the corner of the courtyard and between the restaurant and bar areas, all of which continue the wooden floor and stone brick and glass wall feel of the hotel.
There's a French-style Bistro du Vin and mezzanine bar, with the hotel's well-stocked wine cellar tucked away, unusually, above guests, which adds some character to the pleasant dining room.
Guests are spoilt for choice: there's a mezzanine bar, a cigar area, a tasting room, and–of course–plenty of wines in the cellar. Guests can also kick back in the hotel's whisky snug, where 270 different varieties of the \"water of life\" are ripe for sampling. And there's also the cigar bothy in the hotel courtyard, as well as some outdoor seating, for when the weather is warm.
The hotel is within walking distance of most of Edinburgh's tourist sights. For trips further afield, a number of buses stop close by.
Checkpoint (1-minute walk) is a cool all-day restaurant offering a relaxed, light space for a coffee in the day and a more atmospheric vibe in the evening. Or Tower restaurant, on top of the National Museum, is a swish spot for lunch with good views of the city's rooftops (2-minute walk).
Take in some live jazz at the atmospheric Jazz Bar (5-minute walk) or sample one of 140 beers on offer at local favorite, The Hanging Bat (14-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
The Hotel du Vin mini-chain rarely lets down punters looking for comfortable stays in interesting city center properties, and its Edinburgh outpost is no exception. The drinking spaces are a cut above - even if you might get a few shivers imagining the hotel's past as a notoriously nasty asylum while you sip your drink in modern comfort.