hugely controversial i know, but i’ve never really much of a been a fan of edinburgh. a terrible birthday spent in the city visiting an ex a few years ago, coupled with my familial loyalty to glasgow (which i’ve not visited since i was ten!), meant i’d given the city a wide berth in recent times. so, when ibis invited me up to review their design-led styles hotel, i thought it was as good a time as any to revisit the scottish capital and give it a second chance to impress.
ibis styles hotels subvert the norm in economy hotels to embrace local cultural diversity and put design elements firmly in the spotlight. they believe their guests expect much more than a place to stay, and are keen on the visual experience and the sensations that the interior design stirs; they want to stay in a hotel where they feel great. i certainly know i do!
everything about ibis styles tallies with this philosophy. design is everywhere: it steeps objects, furniture, fittings, light and layout. in the lobby of the st andrews square hotel in edinburgh i am met with hanging clusters of lee broom crystal pendants, elegant suri chairs by pedro gomes, bar stools topped with moumoute covers by fabienne thonet, and quirky plywood moose heads similar to those big game used to do.
the design focus is not limited to the lobby and lounge areas. the whole hotel is creatively crafted full of gaelic heritage and humour, paying homage to the fierce national pride of the city. purple, green and blue hues bring a distinctive scottish flair enhanced through quirky interior furnishings such as wee whiskey barrel nightstands and wry scot-slang friezes etched into wardrobes and doors. scottish slang is also embroidered into the carpet design to give guests a crash course in the local lingo, while illustrated murals in each room tackle different scottish themes, meaning you might fall asleep in a field of thistles or be woken by the glare of a highland stag. and of course, where there are trimmings, they’re in tartan. natch.
my stay at the hotel was short but sweet. i had been invited up by ibis to participate in a fun day of blogger games (you may have spotted the #captureibisstyles photos i posted over on instagram as part of the challenge) and after a wonderful welcome evening spent enjoying edinburgh lady cocktails and sampling the dinner menu at the hotel (all excellent), we spent the following day exploring the city on an open-top bus taking in all the sights and sounds of the capital. i even managed to make a new (non-blogging) friend in lovely guinevere, a european eagle owl who is part of the pegasus falconry team on the royal mile. isn’t she a beaut?
my whistlestop tour opened my eyes to the stunning vista of the burg, taking in the sights of the castle, arthur’s seat, calton hill, the palace of holyroodhouse, scottish parliament, royal mile and edinburgh old town, which all begged me to reevaluate my stance on the city. but it wasn’t until i stumbled across local organic chocolatiers coco at the tron kirk church pop-up market that i was really sold – organic gin & tonic and haggis spice chocolate bars have that power, you know!
ibis styles, 19 st andrew square, edinburgh. rooms start from £62 per night (price correct at time of writing).