Sunday, March 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!


Kathysue said...

Hi Averill , HOw exciting, I can tell how excited your are just by the wonderful virtual trip you just took us on!! You know how I love black and white so I would love it!! I think the elevator is so fun!! I know you will have an amazing time, thanks for the virtual trip, I had a lovely time, Happy Sunday,Kathysue

Anonymous said...

That sounds like it's going to be a fabulous (and well deserved) trip! I love the views from the hotel. Thank you for the tour!

Sarah said...

Wow! I'm so jealous! I've been dying to get to Scotland!!! Good luck finishing up at work.

Sarah said...

Awesome! I wish I had some advice for you. I went to Scotland for my best friend's wedding in '98. We did a day trip to Edinburgh...was too long ago for details, but it was fun!

Unknown said...

Ueber - cool! Enjoy your journey to come!
There is a blogger I found and like very much, she is in Edinburgh...check it out!

Take care!

Dayka Robinson said...

this sounds like an AMAZING trip!!! you guys will have so much fun--can't wait to see your photos and hear about your experience!

Karena said...

How fabulous, the Missoni hotel design is stunning! Have a great trip.

Giveaway is up on my site, please join in!

Art by Karena

ashlina {the decorista} said...

wow. that hotel kind of blows me away. i cant wait to see more pics and hear everything. hope you had a great weekend sweets.

Sarah Klassen said...

Sounds like such a fun trip, Averill! Such splendid images, too, I might add - very fun colors and patterns...who wouldn't love it?!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend :)

Marija said...

Averill - This sounds like a wonderful trip! Can't wait to hear more of the details as you plan your excursion and I know the re-cap once you return will be just as much fun! I'm so envious of your trip!! Wait, does this count as jealousy in blogging!?! Happy planning! Marija

Design Esquire said...

Oh, I went there after college and it was wonderful - you'll have a great time. I actually found the city very walkable - and there were so many places day trips around that area too. The art museum had lots of great art. Also, I'm not sure if they still do it, but there was a special pass you could buy to see all the castles in the area - it was well worth the money.

Also, I'm not sure if they still do this, but you can get a free ticket to observe their parliament. Without knowing it, the day that I went to observe, Bertie Ahern from Ireland came - and it was the first time he was there since the Scottish parliament devolved from England and reconvened in Edinburgh. If it is in session, I would highly recommend it.

Nichole@40daysof said...

Really wish I was going, too. Looking forward to seeing your photos.

Christy said...

Oh you guys are going to have so much fun! I'm already looking forward to your recap when you return. What a fabulous hotel - and how cool would it be to stay in one of those hot-pink highlighted suites! I've never been to Edinburgh so I have no advice, but I'm sure you'll have a blast. Eat lots of cadburys and thorntons in London for me!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

Wow, what a treat! I can't imagine what an amazing time you guys will have - can't wait to read the full report after your trip. :) I think that's awesome that you're rewarding yourselves for hard work - more people should do that!

Connie @ SogniESorrisi said...

I heard about this hotel--so chic! I've never been to Scotland, but looks like a great time. I hope your trip is wonderful!

13threads said...

The restaurant is very good and the Biennale is indeed delicious. You are in a perfect location for some other good restaurants and bars: The Outsider along the street, The Grain Store around the corner on Victoria Street, the Tower restaurant at the top of the museum with a different rooftop view of Edinburgh, the Dragonfly cocktail pub in the Grassmarket and Ecco Vino Wine Bar on Cockburn Street - all within an easy stroll. But for something different a taxi journey to Leith (taxis are expensive) to The Shore pub and restaurant (have to book only a few tables) or the Michelin star Kitchin Restaurant. Let me know if you would like some more...

Unknown said...

Wow! This trip looks so incredibly amazing! The Hotel is beyond gorgeous! A million years ago, I did a semester of law school in London, and even managed to see a bit of Scotland, Edinburgh included. It was so nice to revisit thru your blog today!

Work at Home Dad said...

I like the round chair too. So comfy and elegant.

Laura@JourneyChic said...

We went to Scotland last April for a relative's wedding, and had a wonderful time. We started in Edinburgh for two nights (at a Hilton using points). While you're there, definitely go to John Lewis: It's a huge department store that has great home section, particularly lighting.

From Edinburgh, we rented a car and drove to Stirling Castle, up to the location of the wedding (Aberfeldy, home of Dewar's Whisky which has a very good distillery tour). From there we went down to St. Andrews and visited some other castles on the way back, then took a day trip up to Loch Ness. Such fun! Hope you have a fabulous time!

Susie @ Maddie G Designs said...

Sounds like an incredible trip. In my previous life/career I did a lot of international travel but never made it to Scotland. It is on my list for when our kid(s)are older. Heck, I am excited for our May vacation to FL that we just booked. Hope you make it through your transaction soon.

Pemberley said...

Such a great idea to stay in place that's fun and interesting but not your style to 'try it out'.

Dallas Decorum said...

Your inspiring me to start planning my vacation!

Southern Aspirations said...

What a fabulous trip you have planned! So exciting. Have not been to Scotland yet, but it's on my list. Good for you to have this great "carrot" for the end of a long work cycle!

Sanity Fair said...

LOVE - and I have to say, the elevator is my favorite!! I love their color prints best, but the black and white and pink is such a lot of fun. I expect more pics when you return!

Jen said...

So I've been lurking for awhile, found you through Liz at
I've loved seeing all of your awesome design ideas!! Your house is gorgeous.

I had to come out of my lurker status to comment on Edinburgh... I studied abroad there in college & have been back a few times since, so have some ideas! Definitely tour the Castle, I also recommend the walk up the Scott Monument if you can handle tiny spiral staircases, it's a beautiful view of the city. If the weather isn't too rainy, a hike up Arthur's Seat is beautiful as well. To see the two different sides of the city, walk the Royal Mile (old) and Princes Street (new). Chocolate Soup on the Royal Mile (around the corner from Starbucks) if you want a good coffee break. Have a wonderful trip!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Oh Averill, I'm thrilled for you & Dave. It's been awhile since there but I'd suggest off the cuff to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat. It is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. The hill rises above the city to a height of 251 m (823 ft), provides excellent panoramic views of the city, is quite easy to climb, and is a popular walk. If you haven't, it's worth the effort for the views. I also loved Dunottar Castle in Aberdeenshire, 2 mi.'s south of Stonehaven.
It's located right on the North Sea & if you google it, you'll see how spectacular it is. That & Stonehaven make for an incredible day. One year you must visit Aberdeen. So beautiful and full of history in itself.

All that and a macaroni & cheese pie that they wrap in brown paper & vendors sell on the street!

Graham has much family that lives in Inverness. He reconnected with them again @ his mothers funeral in March. Graham gave them all a FB lesson, so we are now keeping in contact regularity.

Have you read the blog - ? She has a home in Edinburgh I believe & know it all.

Much for you to be excited about Averill!!

Ryan said...

Hope you enjoy your visit to Scotland, I have lived in Edinburgh for most of my life. Check out the story of Mary Kings Close on my Blog and try to visit it during your stay, you will find it in the old town.

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