I’ve just come back home after a fun, relaxing and chatty weekend to Edinburgh with my best friend Cécile. I will write more about our adventures after a good night’s sleep, but I’m quite keen to share my thoughts about Parliament House Hotel where we stayed, and MP’s Bistro, where we had dinner last night. When it’s fresh in your mind, write it down!
Parliament House Hotel
First of all, I was really pleased our hotel was nicely tucked away from the hustle and bustle of vibrant Edinburgh. It was near Waterloo Place, minutes’ walk away from John Lewis, the Apple store, Princes street and all the sights, but because it was in such a quaint and slightly hidden location, it was nice and quiet there at night and felt pretty peaceful.
Not only the hotel was affordable, ideally situated for sightseeing, shopping or just relaxing, but it was also pretty traditional and full of character, which is getting less and less common these days with hotel chains and their all-too ‘sterile’ rooms.
As we walked in, we immediately spotted the comfy armchairs near the fireplace in the reception area, and we did make use of the bar after dropping our bags in our room!
As soon as we entered room 309, it was clear it had been recently refurbished. It had been done up using elegant, earthy tones, in keep with Scottish heritage. Behind our twin beds was a majestic wooden headboard. The same wood was used throughout the room and bathroom: to frame the mirror, on the desk and wardrobe as well as the bathroom cabinet. I love that kind of continuity in a hotel room.
We had a myriad of options when it came to lighting our room. It could be dimmed, subdued, bright, discreet or ‘in your face’ and again, that flexibility is key to ensuring any guest will be happy in there.
We had a flat screen TV in the room but were too busy chatting to turn it on, an armchair, a desk and chair, a mirror, nice black and white photos of Edinburgh on the walls. All guests have free WiFi access, which is too often a paid option in hotel. There were also basic tea and coffee making facilities and as mentioned before, a bar service offered at the hotel reception. We’d brought some champagne for Saturday night so I would have liked a small fridge in the room, but it wasn’t a problem to get it in a fridge within the hotel anyway.
The bathroom provided the wow factor for both of us, with its Metro-style teal tiles in the shower, and contrasting black and white Mauresque floor tiles. Every square centimetre in the bijou bathroom was used effectively, with a large powerful shower, a toilet, a beautiful little basin in the same wood as all woodwork in the bedroom, a hook to hang clothes or a toiletry bag and a beautiful radiator.
The mattress was one of the most comfortable I’ve slept on in years and I slept like a log (sleeping like a baby is a myth so I’ve stopped using that expression!) on both nights.
Parliament House Hotel has its own restaurant, MP’s Bistro, and we used the on-site facilities three times, both mornings for breakfast and on Saturday night for dinner.
The bistro was clean, nice warm and welcoming with staff who couldn’t be friendlier. The menu was really well labelled, with reasonable pre-theatre set menus. There was a discreet note towards the bottom of the menu advising people to tell waiters about any food allergies they might have and to ask about allergens on the menu. As an allergy mum, I find this really reassuring. It gives the right impressions straight away and it seems they know exactly what is in each and every dish. Tick!
We both loved the music from the 1950s that was playing in the background. We might even have sung a little bit (poor, poor people around us).
In terms of style, the Bistro was a bit of a mishmash, with light blue flowery wallpaper that made me think of Laura Ashley, Italian-style arch mirrors, slightly shabby tables and furniture. On the other hand, there were subtle Scottish tones, with light grey tweed tartan blinds and Edinburgh-focused lithographies framed in gold all around the room. On each table was a yellow rosebud in a small vase and we thought that was a lovely touch.
The general decor of the bistro could really do with an upgrade. It is a bit of a shame as the quality of the food and the ethos of the bistro were so strong, I felt it would only give them justice to present them in an impeccably decorated setting with traditional, sturdy-looking furniture that would give it oozes of character.
Now here comes the bit that makes me feel really excited to go and try food somewhere:
“From the fields straight onto our customer’s fork, we are committed to supporting the very best in local produce. We know that when it comes to serving the best in traditional Scottish food, the proof is in the pudding.
It is what makes the MP’s Bistro a favourite when it comes to places to eat in Edinburgh and ensures that great taste of Scotland our customers love.”
– Meat & Fish
One thing that really matters to me when it comes to food is provenance. I absolutely love the fact MP’s Bistro pride themselves in using a family-run business (Campbells Prime Meat Ltd.) for all their meat and fish. Campbells’ high-quality beef is sourced from Invercurie, their pork is from Ayrshire and all lamb comes from the best Scottish suppliers. Campbells’ fish buyer in Scrabster handpicks only the freshest Scottish-landed fish, coming from sustainable stocks (MSC herring, mackerel and haddock). They also supply lobster from North Berwick in season.
– Milk, Cream & Yoghurt
All dairy products used at MP’s Bistro come from a family-run, award-winning artisan dairy. Yester Farm Dairies is set in a picturesque village 25 miles South of Edinburgh. The cows are really important to the family, who look after them beautifully and adhere to the highest environmental health standards. The products made on the farm are pasteurised, packed, refrigerated and delivered as quickly as possible, so only the freshest products reach their customers.
– Fruit & Vegetables
All fruit and veg at MP’s Bistro come from another family-run Scottish supplier of fresh produce, Mark Murphy, who source and supply only the finest in-season Scottish produce.
Our dinner was rustic and tasty. The ingredients used were locally sourced and in season. You can’t get better than that, really.
Please excuse the dreadful photos: the light was very dim and there was very little I could do to improve the quality of my photos. We were also too hungry to try and find a nicer-lit spot (sorry not sorry).
This is what we had:
Baked brie, cranberry and pecan crumble, with homemade oatcakes (gluten-free)
Red mullet, crushed potatoes, buttered spinach and shallot cream (Gluten-free)
Borders lamb rump with rosemary jus, roast root vegetables and parsnip crisps (gluten-free)
Dark chocolate délice and passion fruit served with honeycomb ice cream (gluten-free)
Ice cream Sundae (gluten-free)
The food was really delicious and we ate every last bite, apart from my Sundae.
Breakfast options were plentiful, with a full Scottish cooked breakfast menu, or a cold buffet. We both went for the continental option on both mornings. I love nothing more than cooked breakfast, but I was just about recovering from the flu and couldn’t manage much more than pastries, fruit and coffee. I also tried one Yester Farm Dairies’ yoghurts and it was lovely!
This morning, Paul at reception suggested we go to Calton Hill to take photos of the city before heading off home. I love the fact he suggested it and offered to look after our luggage so we could have a 10-minute wander before our long train journey back South. This is just one example of the friendliness staff showed towards us during our stay.
Would I recommend Parliament House Hotel for a stay in Edinburgh? Yes. Every time!
Disclosure: Cé and I were invited to spend two nights at Parliament House Hotel and eat dinner at MP’s Bistro. I wasn’t asked to provide any written review or social media activity, but we have had such an amazing weekend, I had to write a little something. I hope I’ve done the hotel and bistro justice!