Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Virtual Vacation: Edinburgh

Work has been incredibly hectic for me as we rush to close on an acquisition in a matter of weeks (instead of the months that we should have had). For all the craziness though, one upside to being overextended at the office is that, when things finally do settle down, you feel incredibly entitled to make the most of it and go on vacation. Dave and I are booked to take a much-deserved (for us both -- Dave has been just as busy as I have, if not more) trip at the end of May to London and then to Scotland. During our five days in Scotland, we'll be spending two nights nestled in the Highlands in Inverness and three nights in Edinburgh. During out time in Edinburgh, Dave and I will be staying at the Hotel Missoni -- and I'm beyond excited. So I thought today in anticipation of my upcoming vacation, I'd indulge in a little virtual vacation and explore all that the Hotel Missoni (and Edinburgh) have to offer.

I've long admired Missoni's brand; their clothes, fabrics and home accessories lines are exactly the kind of bold, brightly colored patterns that I'm always drawn to. It's very modern, but not spare. And, from the pictures I've been able to find online, their newest venture into boutique hotels (the first in Edinburgh, with more in the works in Kuwait, Cape Town, Brazil and Oman) has the exact same feeling as the rest of the line (modern, colorful and fun, but also incredibly luxe) -- and that's to be expected considering Rosita Missoni herself designed the hotel.

I love the predominately black and white vibe of the lobby. It's all so very, very Missoni. The style of the hotel is far more modern than anything I would ever do in my own home...and that's not to say that I dislike modern design per se as I quite admire modern design when done well for all its crisp's more that it doesn't feel especially "me" and it's not something I think I could live with day after day. That said though, I always try and use traveling as an opportunity to stay in hotels that have a very different design sensibility than my own home. After all, half the fun of traveling is getting to experience something completely different from what you're used to.

I think my favorite design element are these giant urns in the lobby, which are visible from the street. Talk about making a statement.

Even the hotel's elevators are decorated in signature Missoni prints.

This hot pink, black and white suite is probably my favorite of the ones photographed (and I'm sure not at all representative of the baseline room Dave and I will be staying in). I love how the rug is a reverse of the pattern on the sofa and how the glossy pink buffet mirrors the pink accent wall on the other side of the space. Despite a growing penchant for more organically designed/eclectic spaces, I'm still a big fan of a well-thought out, tightly designed room like this one.

The same room, from a different angle. I love all the light pouring into this space from the windows. Too often hotel rooms are decorated too darkly, often to disguise cramped quarters or small windows. Here though, the overall feeling is one of light and space: two huge luxuries in Edinburgh.

Not sure if this is the same suite, or another suite with the same color palette. Either way though, I love that low slung, round chair; it's the perfect place to lay back and read a book or watch TV.

A second style of suite, this one decorated in a more masculine black and white with small touches of red.

I love how these two very different styles of chair are united by the common fabric. I'm not normally a fan of shaggy carpet, but the plush rug adds a level of warmth to a room that could otherwise read as a bit cold.

A smaller suite, probably more representative of the majority of the hotel's rooms. Despite the smaller size, the room is still elegantly appointed and cheerfully decorated. I particularly covet the zig zag pillows on the bed. Additionally, all rooms come with complimentary Wi-Fi, laundry and minibar (nothing I hate more at pricey hotels is the nickel and dime-ing you for any "extras"). I also like the pale blonde wood floors that runs through all the rooms. Not only does it add a natural (and more casual) element to these very modern interiors, but it's so much better than scuzzy hotel carpet.

Another one of the "standard" rooms, this one featuring a single king bed. I love how the bedding picks up on the turquoise and yellow used on the walls. It's not my favorite color combination, but it's peppy and fresh. A nice change of pace from the golds, browns and reds so often favored by hotels.

I tend to gauge a hotel's class by the quality of its bathrooms. I'm sure I won't be disappointed with these as they boast deep jewel-tone walls, rainfall showers and plush Missoni robes and towels.

Views from the hotel. I actually spent a few weeks with my family back in the summer of 2002 touring around Scotland. We went to Glasgow, Perth, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh (with a brief day trip up to the Highlands to take a boat ride on Loch Ness). And, while much of Scotland is achingly beautiful, my favorite stop by far was the few days we spent in Edinburgh. Edinburgh's Old Town is -- as you can see from this photo -- a wonderful mishmash of ancient and modern. I love the idea of staying in an ultra-modern hotel right off the Royal Mile, one of the oldest streets in the UK. It's this very European juxtaposition that, as an American (and a Houstonian in particular), I find so attractive.

The Royal Mile is so named as it's the approximately one mile stretch of road connecting Holyrood Palace (the official residence of the monarch in Scotland) to Edinburgh Castle (dating to the 12th century, the defensive stronghold is situated above the city on top of an extinct volcano). The Hotel Missoni is within a five minute walk of Edinburgh Castle and within ten minutes of . The Queen is rarely in residence, however, and typically only stays at Holyrood a few days a year en route to her private summer home in Balmoral. When you've had your fill of cultural outings, stroll over to Princes Street for the best in high street shopping. Jenners, Scotland's equivalent of Neiman Marcus or Bloomingdales, is the crown jewel of Scottish shopping and is a must-see.

There is, of course, plenty of entertainment to be had inside the hotel itself as well. Dave and I plan on spending a quiet, romantic evening at their much lauded restaurant and bar. I absolutely adore the collection of prints displaying the phases of the moon in Bar Missoni. The copper-topped, flower-shaped bar is also stunning. I'll be trying out one of their signature cocktails: the Basilito, a twist on the classic mojito (a blend of basil, grape and Italian lemon), or Biennale, a twist on a bellini, but with fig and vanilla preserve and prosecco.

The hotel's restaurant Cucina is (of course) Italian, with an emphasis on serving fresh, local ingredients. The graphic black and white patterns of the hotel lobby are carried through to the restaurant, punctuated with pops of bold turquoise and pink.

If you interested in visiting Edinburgh, my best advice is to stay in Old Town -- or as close to it as your budget will allow. Unlike London, Edinburgh does not have a subway system and getting around via cab quickly gets expensive. By staying in Old Town, you'll be guaranteed to be right in the heart of the major tourist attractions. Besides the Hotel Missoni, I've also heard wonderful things about Tigerlily, another very chic boutique hotel that also happens to be more moderately priced.

If you've visited Edinburgh recently, I'd love to hear your suggestions for restaurants, bars, shops and sites that we should add to our itinerary. It's always great to get travel tips first hand!

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