Exploring Edinburgh with ibis hotels
In case you hadn’t noticed. we’re firm believers in the art of the mini-break here at FashionBite. Forget expensive takeaways and ill-advised Uber rides (OK, sometimes we splash out – it’s bloody freezing!), all our spare cash goes towards advance train and Megabus tickets for little adventures (mostly spent shopping).
Weekends were made for lie-ins, new cocktail bars, vintage stalls, cosy coffee shops, long brunches, museums and walks – all the better in a new city or relaxing, sleepy village. There’s just one problem, we hear you cry – hotels are expensive.
Well, that depends on where you stay. We jumped at the chance to check out three new hotels from economy hotel group ibis, having heard good things about the cleanliness and locations of its hotels dotted about the UK, not to mention seriously cheap prices. Claridges this is not, but when you’re planning on falling into bed after a long day shopping, exploring or partying, Ibis promise a soft bed, central location and helpful service.
Sounded good to us, so straight from work, off to Edinburgh we went, arriving at the station at 10pm. A ten minute taxi (if only rates were as cheap in London) took us to the first hotel we’d be trying: Ibis Budget, Edinburgh Park. Within a business park, it’s not a pretty location and there are closer options if you want to see the city (a short taxi ride away) but you are within walking distance of Edinburgh Zoo (home to the UK’s only pandas, who we booked a slot to see and were well worth the wait) and super-close to the airport too. The open-plan lobby is bright and spacious, staff extremely helpful (grab a hairdryer at reception before you hop in the lift, they don’t provide them in the rooms unless you ask!).
Rooms are not large but not box-like either, and what they lack in lavish artwork, pretty bedding and chintzy furniture they make up for in simple things done very well. No-nonsense blackout blinds eliminate all light, a flat screen TV on the wall has Freeview and connectors for multi-media. There are tons of lighting functions (we loved the LEDs in the shower head!) and the beds are really comfy, extra pillows and bedding available at your request. If you’re arriving late, 24 hour snacks and a handful of speedy computers are available 24/7 – here, convenience is key.
It’s almost like setting up home in a really spacious (and silent!) economy aircraft cabin – we brushed our teeth, sank into bed with some late night TV and planned the weekend ahead. A decent continental breakfast set us up for the next day – our only negative point being that the selection isn’t large, so including the cost of this in the room price (from £33 per night for a double) would be a nice touch.
A taxi into the city centre was next, for a brilliant tour of the creepy, historic Edinburgh Vaults hidden under the Royal Mile – then a day of shopping on Princes Street, tackling the hill up to Edinburgh Castle and exploring the winding streets littered with shops, bars and cafes. Exhausted, we walked from Princes Street to the second, mid-range Ibis offering: Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge (from £55 per double).
Large open spaces, a modern bar and concept restaurant area (named Fogg’s after the famous explorer, it offers dishes from across the world) and a spacious roof terrace create an upmarket feel on an economy budget – we felt right at home, and the location is excellent, a five minute walk from the (free!) National Museum of Scotland and the New Town a little further on through Princes Street Gardens.
We struck lucky with a corner room, which was very spacious and enjoyed a more stylish feel than the Budget offering – long teal curtains, a huge flat screen TV, desk and wooden flooring made it immediately more homely. Free Wifi, a good, strong shower and ergonomically designed mattresses too.
After a bedroom picnic of Prosecco and treats from Sainsbury’s (next door to the hotel) we walked to stylish new cocktail bar Panda & Sons (masquerading as a barber shop) for a couple of incredible cocktails – if you like Bloody Marys, try the Red Panda before checking out a few more in the area.
The next day, we were up early to check out the final Ibis hotel on the list – the most expensive (but still excellent value) and proportionally upmarket of them all, the ibis Styles outpost on beautiful St Andrews Square.
The hotel enjoys a bright, boutiquey feel that the previous hotels don’t quite capture – the price points are higher (from £63 per double per night), but in return, the location is spectacular and the interiors are sparkling and modern. Bright blues, purples and greens run throughout and you can spot thoughtful Scottish accents alluding to the city’s heritage – a bell complete with stag horns, tartan lighting and carpets.
Rooms are individually styled (6 themes in total with different murals – some with stags, some bank notes to denote the building’s previous incarnation).
The furniture is dotted with funny translations of classic Scottish phrases, the bathrooms are high spec and spacious, and many have incredible views across the city with huge wraparound balconies – sheer bliss. The breakfast area (pictured below) is large and airy, tables laden with continental offerings from very early in the morning – as we discovered when it was time to board our 5.30am train back to London and straight into work.
We’d happily return to any of the three ibis hotels we visited – each fits a purpose and we love the fact there’s literally something to suit every budget. A great find – we can’t wait to explore the outposts closer to home.
Amy @ FashionBite xx