I'm a working mum writing about life in Edinburgh (and anywhere else we go) with two curious, adventurous, and imaginative children. Visit my blog at www.linzertortes.blogspot.co.uk. Follow me on Twitter: @LinzerLaw
Published December 7th 2012
A luxury Italian experience in the heart of Edinburgh
When I mentioned to friends and family that I was staying at Hotel Missoni the most common reply was, "Is that the one with the men in those kilts on the door?" Despite being a recent entrant into the luxury hotel market in Edinburgh, Hotel Missoni has found its way into the city's consciousness, due mostly to the original use of Italian fashion house Missoni textiles in the aforementioned doormen's kilts.
This theme continues, as you'd probably expect, throughout the hotel. The fringing hanging from the Reception Desk prompted amusement from my eldest daughter, "Look!" she said, not as quietly as I would have liked, "Look at the desk. This hotel is silly."
I think silly is a bit harsh. However, the Hotel does make use of Missoni prints and textiles everywhere. The art on the walls, the bread baskets, the famous dressing gowns, all are bold, geometric textile designs. I like it. It gives the hotel a distinct and pleasing aesthetic, differentiating it from the other hotels of Edinburgh. The only place they appear to stray from textiles is, surprisingly, on the floors of the rooms. These are wooden, but it is a clever touch ensuring that the beautiful textiles remain where they should be: to be enjoyed by eyes and hands, rather than ignored underfoot.
I was impressed with the service throughout our stay. We ate a very rushed dinner in Cucina, the restaurant on the Mezzanine level, and we wished that we had more time to linger and enjoy the meal. Everything was presented with a knowledgeable flair even down to the six different kinds of breads served with a peppery olive oil. I had a rib-eye steak, with potato puree and wild mushrooms. The steak was good, but its accompaniments were what set it apart from other city restaurant rivals. No frites here. Instead potato puree was buttery, the mushrooms had bite, and a parsley and garlic salsa added a little more flavour. I could quite happily eat it every day. Side orders of broccoli with chilli and potato wedges were competent. The broccoli was cooked just right, not overdone as it often is, but we both thought it could have had a touch more chilli. We didn't have time to stay for dessert, but we really wished that we could have done.
Unfortunately, the kitchen was not quite so effortlessly perfect in providing breakfast the next day – both my husband and I felt that our cooked breakfasts (Eggs Benedict and a full Scottish) could have been hotter. I think the kitchen was suffering from the usual breakfast problems in hotels. On Sundays, everyone comes in late, and at once. Although not quite piping hot, the breakfast was still full of lovely flavours. I tasted a mushroom with trepidation, but it was again perfectly cooked and full of flavour. The continental breakfast buffet was a little unusual, but suited me perfectly. Carrot cake, chocolate cake, marble cake, three flavours of frangipane, and that's even before I found the pastries and doughnuts. I was in heaven. For my diabetic husband, the choice was a little more limited, but he still found a few things he could have. The hot chocolate also deserves its own special mention. Hot and milky, with a perfect layer of foam, it avoided the normal sin of over-sugared, syrupy sweetness and was chock-full of proper cocoa.
A slight hiccup at breakfast aside I thought the Hotel Missoni lived up to the reputation that preceded it.
The service in the hotel was faultless, from the doorman who offered to carry our bags to a waiting car, to the hand-written note from the duty manager welcoming us to Hotel Missoni and Edinburgh. Every member of staff we encountered was unfailingly polite, friendly and helpful. I must admit that I went in with expectations that we would be greeted with aloof superiority – it just looks like that kind of place! However, my assumptions were challenged, and I was very pleasantly surprised.
As I have forgiven them for the small breakfast issue, I would conclude with only two reasons why you should avoid Hotel Missoni:
1.You want to come to Edinburgh to stay in a traditional Scottish hotel. Although this is Missoni with a Scottish twist, it is very much an international hotel. You'll start your meal with a polite Buon Appetito from the waiters, and no one will bid you "Cheerio" as you leave. As we're from Edinburgh, and get bored of the relentless Royal Mile assault of the tartan and bagpipes, it was very welcome to walk into something a little different.
2.You have a very important diet to keep. Complimentary mini-bar, 6 types of bread, more varieties of cake for breakfast than I could count, and I haven't even touched on the jars of sweeties in reception (we were kindly provided with two bags and some tongs so we could take a couple of packets for our children as a present). If you have self-control that's better than mine, then by all means stay, and also if you could tell me the secret of resisting cake for breakfast that would be great too.
Flippancy aside, I would recommend the Hotel Missoni as a great example of how it should feel to stay at a luxury, 5-star city-centre hotel. It was well worth the price.