Stockbridge was my home for many years. I am very familiar with the tree-lined streets, river walks and friendly shops and bars, which make up the community within Scotland’s capital city.
An invite, therefore, to a comparatively new Scottish restaurant, in the heart of the village, as I like to still refer to it, was very welcome and offered an excuse to re-visit some old haunts and discover some new.
The aptly named Taisteal promised ingredients and culinary techniques, from around the globe, married with some traditional and locally sourced, Scottish produce.
To pull something fresh, new and different out the bag these days, is quite a feat; to make it work, attract new custom and keep the local foodies interested, is something else. Yet, Taisteal seems to have accomplished a new spin on dining in an understated, friendly family-vibe restaurant.
Whilst the menu is different and exciting, it is not in the least pretentious and presents tastes on a new level, from simple ingredients producing culinary creations, which are surprisingly good.
With a theatre date, we opted for an earlier slot for dinner but if we thought for one minute this would mean a quiet restaurant, we were very much mistaken as the tables filled with a mix of reservations and off the street curiosity.
An additional Market Menu is available for early dinner guests and lunches, taking advantage of the locally available produce and offering a choice for a surprisingly low cost.
Our starters of a Celriac & Hazelnut Veloute with Chorizo Oil and a Vanilla, Saffron and Butternut Squash Risotto with Mimolette Cheese and Walnuts, arrived with friendly, low-key service and both typified Taisteal’s dishes of simple ingredients, crafted into wonderfully, unique dishes.
It comes as no surprise that chef-patron Gordon Craig has already found his way to in the Michelin guide, AA guide and The Good Food Guide with his Taisteal brand.
An unassuming style doesn’t prepare patrons for the eclectic blends and quite exotic tastes; first impressions were certainly surpassed also in our mains of Pheasant, Pancetta, Jerusalem Artichokes, Port Cheek Tortellini and a Beetroot and Goat Cheese Cannelloni with Veggie Haggis Bonbons and Chestnuts.
Taisteal is one of those restaurants where you feel you have unearthed some big secret; torn between keeping it as such and shouting to the world of its existence….why had we not been here before?
My return to Stockbridge did not disappoint and nor did my first visit to Taisteal…I shall be back, to both; in fact Taisteal is perfectly located and has given just one more reason to return to haunts of old.
Occasionally and unexpectedly, you stumble on a true gem
With a reasonably suburban location, there is always going to be some legwork to do to get their name on the map but Radhuni should not have, and indeed have not had a problem to date if their achievements and awards are anything to go by.
Word of mouth should ensure this Loanhead based restaurant survives on the outskirts of Edinburgh and becomes a go to destination venue for those who enjoy not only an exceptional curry, but fabulous surroundings and supreme service.
Radhuni’s street frontage is small but wonderfully welcoming – a guiding light on a dark and wet December evening. Drawn in passed the main reception, Radhuni opens up, tardis-style, to a vast, impressively furnished, warm and luxurious space with an inviting configuration of tables and an atmosphere conducive to the buzz that has been created following their recent successes.
Arriving a good hour prior to our booking time, Radhuni’s good-natured team efficiently seated us, without fuss, even on a busy Saturday night service.
The scene was set for an evening of some of the most amazing Indian cuisine I have tasted; choice, flavours, chef’s variations on popular classics and new dishes performed well together; unsurprisingly as Radhuni has recently won the acclaimed ‘Best Indian Restaurant in Scotland’ award.
Many locals and regulars who have been both regularly popping in and travelling to The Radhuni, since its inception in 2011, have been guarding their gem of a find, however word is now out and the restaurant’s reputation as a destination dining experience has, quite rightly grown, since the inaugural Asian Restaurant & Takeaway Awards ceremony, which took place in London, in September 2018, hosted by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott.
‘Radhuni’ means ‘passionate cook’, and that passion is absolutely reflected in every mouthful. From sourcing the best ingredients to providing smart service, The Radhuni team have designed an experience that’s as much about relaxing in a peaceful setting as taking in a memorable dining experience. Everything that passes your lips is freshly prepared.….and it shows.
The main dishes tasted like nothing I have experienced ever and shone a new light on the art of Indian cooking; this dining experience is one to be relished and not rushed; take time over the menu (it is extensive) and ask for recommendations; the waiting team are as passionate about the food as the chef and shall happily talk through choices. Sampling various sides, our stuffed paratha was indescribably good and a choice I shall definitely repeat, when (not if) we return.
The Radhuni made me want to call everyone and tell them about my discovery; lining up social events, based around its location, for months to come.
The Radhuni is managed by a strong team with worldwide experience in culinary expertise and customer service from around the globe; it is no surprise that the most recent achievement, just adds to their list of accreditations:
Finalist for Best in the East of Scotland at the Spice Awards 2018
Shortlisted for Indian Restaurant and Takeaway of the Year at the British Curry Awards 2018
Finalist for Outstanding Indian Restaurant of the Year at The Scottish Asian Food Awards 2018
Regional Winner of Scotland for “Restaurant of the Year” at the Asian Restaurant & Takeaway Awards (ARTA) 2018
Chef of the Year at the Scottish Curry Awards 2018
TripAdvisor Hall of Fame for 5 consecutive years of Excellence (2018)
TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence (2013-2018)
(One of) The Telegraph’s Top 10 Curry Restaurants in Britain (2014)
Best Marketing Campaign – Edinburgh & Lothians Region – Asian Curry Awards 2014
(One of) TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Indian Restaurants in the UK (2013)
The AAA Guide of Excellence – Award of Excellence 2013
Pat Chapman’s Good Curry Guide 2013
Chef of the Year for Scotland and Northern Ireland at the Bangladeshi Caterers Association (2012)
I have no doubt that The Radhuni shall continue to add to this list, as much as worthy winners they are, they are also humble in their achievements to date and display a passion to perform and deliver on every hospitality front possible.
Loanhead has struck gold with The Radhuni and I wish them further success in their endeavours. I have several more dates for 2019 pencilled in already!
The popularity for serviced apartments continues to grow and the trend of this particular accommodation type shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
City centre properties perform particularly well in this area for obvious reasons and Edinburgh’s Braid Apartments are no different. Purchased by Mansley to add to their growing portfolio around the UK, Braid in Thistle Street is a true gem of a property and the second for Mansley in the capital.
Situated within 5 minutes walk of the capital’s main shopping thoroughfare of Princes Street and a short step to the thriving bars and restaurants in George Street, Braid Apartments really couldn’t be any better located.
Having already visited The Knight Residence by Mansley, several years ago, my expectations for a similar quality were not at all shattered but comfortingly met at the new 20 studio, one bedroom and two bedroom luxury apartments.
Thistle Street itself, is a mini hub of boutique shops and secluded bars; chic, convenient and it’s location in the heart of Edinburgh’s new town, perfect for a city break or a business stopover.
Business travellers and families alike are drawn by the simplicity and ease of serviced apartment accommodation, where life carries on as normal, at a pace to suit; unbound by dining times and the inconvenient restrictions of one room.
Space, light and ease make any stay with Mansley a convenient and simple choice, from check-in at the warmly welcoming, manned reception to thoughtful additions in each apartment, essential to any stay.
Surprisingly quiet, considering the location, a very peaceful night’s sleep offered the icing on the very convenient cake, where guests are absorbed into the New Town lifestyle, amidst some of the most sought-after property in town.
I was able to take advantage of Edinburgh’s bustling Christmas market without worry of parking issues, buses, trams or taxis; returning to Thistle street several times to unload bags, collect forgotten items, grab a drink, in the comfort and seclusion of the apartment, before the short stroll back again.
This really is the easy way to stay in the city; before, during and on departure; Mansley really make everything simple and stress-free, with the added bonus of luxury accommodation right in the heart of town.
I, personally look forward to further additions to their portfolio, as they are sure to provide the same exceptional levels of luxury, comfort and service.
Notes: Braid Apartments by Mansley is the second property purchased by thr group in just over three years. The Knight Residence in Edinburgh’s Old Town was acquired in March 2015 and Mansley own a further portfolio of properties around the UK.
It probably includes rolling hills and glens, glassy lochs, a cosy log cabin, perhaps a hot tub with a view and private sauna thrown in to complete the picture.
All of the above is encapsulated at the Glen Clova Hotel and Luxury Lodges; throw in a secluded location and close team of friendly and welcoming staff in this family run Scottish hotel; then why would you look any further for your idyllic escape.
At the end of the road, literally, Glen Clova is an ex-hunting lodge, sitting at the foot of Glen Doll in the Cairngorms National Park. 360-degree breathtaking views, one single-track road in and out and abundant wildlife make this a genuine retreat and haven for those seeking that elusive ‘peace and quiet’.
Popular with outdoor sports enthusiasts, particularly hill-walkers and cyclists, Glen Clova caters admirably, with 10 in-house bedrooms and a range of luxury log cabins and steading rooms, flexible by nature, to allow for complete solitude or the warm hospitality within the hotel’s restaurant and bar, whatever the nature of guests’ stays.
It was within this bar that I was joined by David Fawcett; GM; to learn more about the history of the hotel and his team who make Glen Clova such a unique treasure.
Not a stereotypical hotel bar, this lively little neuk, adopts more of a village pub type vibe; exposed stone walls, wooden pew seating, a log burning stove and fabulously stocked bar, combined to present my perfect setting and the ideal place to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and chat. So convivial was the atmosphere, I changed the restaurant dinner reservation to remain seated in the welcoming find and enjoy the evening’s food in a more rustic setting – I would enjoy the more formal hotel restaurant at breakfast!
With a superbly quaint little church onsite, it is no surprise that Glen Clova is vastly popular with couples hunting for the perfect wedding location. Catering for the ceremony, the reception, overnight accommodation and of course, the perfect backdrop for the ideal wedding shot; Glen Clova’s wedding market continues to grow.
But it is not just brides who find their picture perfect story at Glen Clova; although reasonably remote, Glen Clova sits only 90 minutes drive from Edinburgh and additionally offers easy access to the Cairngorms, Speyside and the extensive Highlands, so is a perfect stop-off, when touring Scotland.
This is a little place, which rightly deserves recognition, such is the value of the service on offer at Glen Clova, from the close team of industry professionals, who devote themselves to their hospitality industry in a beautiful spot.
I would encourage readers to take a closer look at Glen Clova; relax and unwind in one of their beautifully comfortable rooms, revel in the views from each and every window and enjoy this peaceful haven; if only for a short while.
It isn’t the first time love for an old building provoked an emotional response and it certainly won’t be the last; the decision for Richard and Heather Forsyth to renovate a tired Rothes Hotel most certainly came from the heart.
The beautiful sandstone of the Station Hotel shines bright in the Summer sun and is certainly a landmark in the small Moray town.
For the 4 star property has recently been completely refurbished by the husband and wife team who already own a family business within the town.
Must Visit - The Station Hotel, Rothes - Vimeo
Too many people comment on such properties falling into disrepair yet do nothing to rectify the sad situation, all too commonplace in many of our villages and towns in the 21st century. Thanks to Heather and Richard however, the heart of the building has been restored and The Station Hotel, once a thriving property but laterally having deteriorated, once again presents a glorious façade to the multitude of tourists who visit the heart of Speyside and whisky country, every year.
It is not only the exterior however which has been beautifully restored; the interior of the building has been sympathetically renovated and offers a luxurious and extremely comfortable stop for tourists enjoying their whisky journey.
Indeed whisky still plays a large part in the hotel, with an enviable whisky bar comparable to that of The Balmoral in Edinburgh and certainly more geographically fitting, considering the location of the Station in the heart of rural Speyside.
‘Other drinks are available’ and indeed the hotel caters more than satisfactorily for Gin aficionados, fitting to the current revival; and I was more than happy with the wine selection on offer.
Informal, yet efficient, the team at The Station, have a relaxed way of making guests feel welcome and perfectly at home with their easy demeanor and ‘happy to assist’ air.
Even though the public areas of the hotel, with their traditional, yet contemporary feel, were hugely comfortable and luxurious, the Caperdonich Suite still came as a surprise, not least due to the expansive and lavish nature of the room but also some very unique features.
Retaining the glory of its past, the suite still offered very modern luxuries including a plasma TV which not only emerged from the end of the bed but rotated 360 degrees so as to be enjoyed from the bed, the seating area or indeed the bath (even though another TV on the mezzanine level adequately catered for this location).
A handy little box holding all remotes and gadgets, ensured that we were never hunting for a missing device, housing also, a snazzy lighting and window blind control, ensuring that absolute relaxation was enabled within the absolute comfort of this suite.
A mezzanine level bathroom added to the luxurious feel, along with superior toiletries and indulgent soft furnishings throughout the room; great personal care has gone into restoring every aspect of this hotel…and it shows.
Of course, a decanter of whisky was thoughtfully gifted in the suite, ready for pre-dinner aperitif or a post-evening nightcap – very welcome.
Continuing with the relaxed ambience, we were welcome to enjoy dinner in the bar area or the more intimate restaurant. Here again, the recent refurbishment was more then evident within the sumptuous décor and extravagant but fitting, accessories.
This project hasn’t merely been an investment exercise; real passion and knowledge has been coupled with a dedication to his cause; nursing this property back to its former glory and more; restoring it in its rightful place, for which it is so ideally suited.
I personally am delighted to see this investment in the tourism industry within Rothes; an area so vital and central to the whisky trail and the wider tourism industry. It is hugely important to retain tradition and history whilst competing on an international level within expected standards of accommodation.
The Station Hotel does just that and is a place the owners should rightfully be proud of and, I hope, benefit from, over the course of time. A true gem within the Scottish hospitality offering, the Station Hotel provides luxurious comfort, superb facilities, an ideal location for touring and a warm Scottish welcome – what more could anyone ask for?
Fresh from a win at the prestigious Scottish Hotel Awards, Douneside House extended an invite to Must Visit Scotland, to bask in their glory and enjoy a 6-course tasting menu with wines, crafted by Head Chef, David Butters, on whose merits, Douneside was awarded ‘Hotel Chef of the Year 2018.’
It was later to become apparent, the reasons why the Royal Deeside hotel gained not only this accolade but ‘Fine Dining Hotel of the Year.’
Run by the not-for-profit MacRobert Trust; last year alone, donating £1 million to charitable causes; Douneside House opened its doors, as a hotel, in June 2016 and already boasts the only triple AA rosette restaurant in Aberdeenshire. As an additional accolade, Douneside is the AA Hotel of the Year Scotland 2017/18 and its magnificent grounds are recognised as a Partner Garden to the Royal Horticultural Society.
Many facets, appealing to wide-ranging groups of people, the relatively small, 13-bedroom hotel is a popular choice, not least of all, to military and ex-military personnel. Lucky then, that the property also boasts a range of holiday apartments and cottages, expanding capacity for an ever-growing demand.
The military aspect is strong at Douneside, due to the family history of the house, which tells an unfortunate story of a family beset by tragedy, yet stoic in adversity.
Douneside was originally purchased by Sir Alexander MacRobert, in 1888, as a holiday home for his family. Sir Alexander and Lady MacRobert had three sons, all of whom died under tragic circumstances. The eldest, Sir Alasdair, was killed in pre-war times during an aviation accident in Luton. His younger brothers were both commissioned in the Royal Air Force, Sir Roderic as a pilot and Sir Ian as a pilot officer. Both of them were killed within six weeks of each other during the Second World War. The MacRobert family were well known locally as significant philanthropists, which is why, following her sons’ deaths, Lady MacRobert decided to set up a charitable trust in their honour.
Today, Douneside House is owned and run by the MacRobert Trust in memory of Lady MacRobert, who wished for the House to remain a place of tranquillity and peace. The Douneside team works tirelessly to uphold the values of the MacRobert Trust, to ensure that all guests who visit, dine or stay at the property experience the magic of the House that Lady MacRobert loved and cherished.
The tranquility pervades the entire property, with the ambience matching that of a country home, more than of a hotel, as if Lady MacRobert herself, is welcoming you.
The grounds are a manicured joy, with guests free to roam around the expansive lawns, pathways and woodlands, offering fabulous views of the surrounding countryside. A surprising find within the gardens, is a spa with pool, sauna, gym and games room – a definite departure from the traditional home, yet fitting, within it’s serene setting.
Family mementos are present throughout the house; portraits, collections, ornaments and military memorabilia, not least of all, items relating to ‘MacRoberts Reply’, the aircraft purchased by the RAF following Lady MacRobert’s donation. The chosen bomber was a Stirling of XV Squadron, which was handed over in October 1941 to its first captain, Flying Officer PJS Boggis, who captained it on twelve operational missions. Today, a tribute and statue of MacRobert’s Reply stands proud in front of Douneside.
As guests for dinner, a welcoming G’nT awaited in the lounge bar and a pretty selection of Hors d’oeuvre provided an introduction to the evening ahead. A large gathering gradually dispersed to various restaurant areas and some to the new and exclusive Dining Club – a recent addition at Douneside.
Intimate candlelit tables visible through the Douneside windows, and gatherings of friends again aroused a homely feel, hosted, I am sure, by Lady MacRobert herself.
Choosing not to view the menu in advance, each course of the tasting menu was a surprise and reliably related by the restaurant manager and equally accomplished sommelier. I am a huge fan of beetroot, however never before have I experienced beetroot ice-cream, which formed the main ingredient in the first course. Accompanied by candied walnut, lardo and Granny Smith apple, this was beetroot in it’s best attire. Just enough to be memorable and served with a Delamotte champagne, the tastes were quite unbelievable.
Timed to perfection, the wood pigeon was served; complete with quail egg, carrot, radish and a consomme which had been matured for two days. A Pedro Ximenez sherry was the again, surprising accompaniment to this course, which all made sense when tasted together – possibly the favourite dish of the evening.
With the Spey not too distant; a locally sourced oak smoked salmon with cockles, cucumber and lemon was served next. The selected wine was a Gewurztraminer – a classic French signature, from a small village winery in Northern Alsace, and once again, perfect!
As it is May, a seasonality approach was of course present in the next dish of lamb – sourced over the hill at Wark Farm. Spring pea, pomme terrine and chantenay carrots accompanied, vying for first positioning in terms of favourites of the evening. A fruity yet full-bodied Zinfandel was so good that a top-up was served for a break before the next course.
A passion fruit brulee with watermelon, honeycomb and banana sorbet was followed by a white chocolate parfait, accompanied by marshmallow, meringue, chocolate crumb and a Quady Elysium Black Muscat from California – just beautiful.
The evening had all but disappeared, however to sample David Butters’ selection of artfully crafted courses, on the back of his very recent win was an absolute joy and a topical masterpiece.
Time only for a late walk around the grounds and just mild enough to enjoy a coffee in front of Douneside, before bed.
No-one can fail to be moved by the story at Douneside; but now it has a new story and a new chapter as the house and its ‘people of excellence’ superbly managed by Marcel Wassen, are justly recognized for their individual and team efforts in bringing that story to the spotlight once again.
One of the things I love about Scotland is the history everywhere you look. Douneside leads with it’s history and not a particularly happy one but one which has turned a series of unhappy events into a legacy and the wonderful, edifying property it exists as, to enjoy today.
Rarely does the perfect balance of demand and opportunity present itself; but when it does, and that opportunity involves a property as perfectly apt as The Panoramic Penthouse Apartment, all is right with the world.
Invited by Canadian travel publication; Drift Magazine, to write an article based around the vast and often turbulent history of Edinburgh’s Old Town, I was delighted to comply. A city I have known and loved for many years, it would be my pleasure to delve deeper into it’s colourful past and find out exactly what has moulded the architecturally beautiful place that the Scottish capital is today. (more to follow on this soon)
For the purpose of this article, the selection of The Penthouse Apartment, presented by The Edinburgh Address, was a considered choice; with it’s positioning in the heart of the Old Town; a stunning, modern structure climbing high above the city from the site of the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. A true phoenix rising from the ashes, The Penthouse now forms part of the cosmopolitan community of similar properties, offices, a hotel, bars, restaurants and a gym, collectively known as Quartermile.
The Quartermile is a prestigious, award winning development, boasting some of the most expensive and desirable real estate in Edinburgh. In an unrivalled location within the city’s world heritage site, The Penthouse is located on the top 3 floors of this glass fronted modern building, which is sympathetically set amongst the historic architecture of the late 1800’s.
Having stayed with The Edinburgh Address before, I was familiar with their personal meet and greet and happy to meet Karen and accept her expert guidance to the secure, underground parking space (the apartment has two). Their face-to-face service is exceptional, unique and not reliant on a rather impersonal key code system, favoured by some of their contemporaries. It is refreshing and necessary to be introduced to the property, which is quite often privately owned, by a reliably informed representative, as questions are typically numerous.
Seven floors above ground level, The Penthouse Apartment not only offers privacy and seclusion from the vibrant city below, but the most amazing views of the entire Edinburgh skyline and beyond. Floor to ceiling windows on all sides; some double floor height; frame Edinburgh’s landmarks perfectly; The Meadows, Arthur’s Seat and a view down the east coast on one side; the stunning Edinburgh Castle on the other. A bird’s eye perspective on the capital, a private lookout, yet cleverly designed, so as not to be a reciprocate benefit! Four levels of progressively impressive views, with the pinnacle from the rooftop, home to a spacious hot tub and a scene, I would challenge you could better…anywhere.
So distracting is the impact of the outdoor vista; the sleek design features of the luxurious interior, provide a mere, secondary powerful punch. Four floors of expansive, ultra-modern and stylish living space offer everything anyone could wish from a self-contained stay in the city.
Entry level is dedicated primarily to sleeping quarters – a term which should be read very loosely. The master suite with a wall of windows, needs no further adornment; simplicity, light and hi-tech gadgets, however, add to the indulgent picture, coupled with an impressive bathroom suite complete with his and her vanity and a decadent designer bath, finished with the same picture-perfect view. As an added note, the two, expansive walk-in wardrobes of the master suite made me thankful, for once, that I know not, how to pack light!
The rooms pay homage to the history of the site on which the Penthouse stands; the old ERI, yes, but also Simpsons Maternity Hospital; their names heart-warmingly memorializing that very fact.
A further suite at the opposite end of the building is equally impressive and a cosier, more intimate double sits next to the perfect children’s play bedroom, on the same level. Climbing ropes, a slide and endless, interesting accessories make up this haven for the little ones, with a unique and exciting bed compilation, which shall, no doubt, keep them occupied for hours!
Children are superbly catered for within the Penthouse, making this an ideal family retreat; cots, buggies, special seating and innumerable toys are all available, lessening the need to travel with everything but the kitchen sink and also a comfort, should something be left behind.
Level two; probably my favourite; opens up to an open-plan, relaxed day space, incorporating a stylised kitchen, walk-through dining area; large enough to seat ten comfortably; and a light and relaxed lounging and TV area, which I was to enjoy more of, later. Untypical of a property of this type, the outdoor decked gardens on all levels, are luxuriously vast, with multiple seating and eating options, lavender and alpine strawberry beds and a barbecue for authentic al-fresco cooking.
A sadly short stay, didn’t allow as much time to bask in the many delights of the Penthouse as I would have loved; enough however to familiarize myself with some of the modish gadgets. Lighting and media, for example are all controlled from central panels, as are the master room’s window blinds, from a convenient remote control next to the bed. Typically baffled by coffee machines, a built-in version was thankfully simple to use in the designer kitchen and ready stocked with fresh beans.
Settling down with my laptop (champagne chilling in the chiller), I found the view far too distracting to focus on any worthwhile work. A slightly voyeuristic eye on the world, I instead, got lost in thought as I watched office life unfold within the surrounding glass buildings.
In the real world, a dinner date in the city beckoned but a mental note was made to hasten back to my penthouse aerie, where I knew that the best sunset was likely waiting.
Deciding where to sit offered the biggest dilemma of the evening, literally spoiled for choice as to which outlook offered the best view. I was soon comfortably ensconced on the Roche Bobois sofa and perhaps unsurprisingly not drawn by the 3D TV nor the array of mezzanine level entertainment. The unfiltered view in front of me offered all the entertainment I would want; gratis therapy for the mind and soul and the most wholly satisfying experience of my stay. When you enjoy something as much, you leave a little bit of you behind; and that I did, when I was to reluctantly leave the following morning; a bit of my heart remained at Quartermile.
To know that this building has grown from something, which was a large and important part of Edinburgh’s history is edifying and to stay here, if only for one night; was an experience which has been added to the long list of things that make me even more proud to call Edinburgh my second home.