When you expect nothing but the best, think of The Malmaison group of hotels, a collection of centres of excellence, that has firmly established itself throughout Britain. As a concept alone this is exciting, but the reality is brilliant, so that at last there is a hotel group where uniformity of standards is of the same high calibre. Perched on the banks of the Forth in Leith, it is within walking distance of the great restaurants and bars there and only minutes from the hustle and bustle of the centre of Edinburgh.
Inside the décor is stylish with marked French overtones, matching the general buzz factor that makes this one of the more popular places not only to stay in Scotland's capital city, but also to eat in comfort surrounded by good taste. As you walk in, you'll be met with grand staircases, slinky sofas in the lobby and the doorways to the brasserie and Bar Nirvana.
The bedrooms are all that one would expect from a hotel that has genuine regard for its guests and is concerned with every aspect of their wellbeing and they are uniquely designed in either vibrant colours or muted shades. Room 121 deserves a special mention - a four poster bed with regal fabrics, a stunning high ceiling and views of the cobbled courtyard to the River Leith - it's pure decadence.
Amidst elegant surroundings, with spotless gleaming glassware and shining cutlery, an essentially brasserie menu is offered from which lovers of seafood will be delighted to note that their particular needs are well heeded, starting with a delightful mussel and saffron chowder or devilled whitebait. That very brasserie dish, eggs Florentine with fat cut chips, has staged a comeback, and can be taken here as a starter or main course. Smoked ham hock seldom fails to please, and the Tamworth pork cutlet is served with apple compote, red cabbage and prunes.
An inspired choice is the beef bourguignon for those seeking by this time a slightly more carnivorous approach. Which leads us neatly to the, wait for it - Mal burger, a 250 gram burger made from ground beef tucked into a floured bap to join bacon and gruyere, then served with homemade relish and some fries. Vegetarians are well looked after - the pumpkin and gorgonzola filled gnocchi sounds appealing.
Over the years the number of outriders surrounding a good honest steak on the plate has grown to unacceptable dimensions. At Malmaison the thought and care is centred on the 35 day aged rump steak frites and that's it - except for the chips. If you want all the rest go for the side dishes, but steak and chips on its own takes some beating.
Heading the puddings is the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, a triumph of timing and co-ordination, supported by other choices amongst which expect to find rhubarb and apple crumble. Their homemade ice creams and sorbets are dreamy.
The wine list is a symphony of its kind, clearly compiled by an enthusiast who knows his wines well enough not to disappear into a world of hyperbole when describing them.
is a wealth of information that will, I predict, only serve to increase your resolve to make Malmaison your next stop in Edinburgh. It is worth noting that you can also make reservations Online on their Website.