Upon arriving at the Port of Leith, we walked up the red-carpeted gangway and into the most elegant and quietly glamorous hotel reception you could imagine. This was the beginning of our weekend stay at Edinburgh’s newest floating hotel, and it continued in the same stylish way that it began.
The Fingal began its life as a ship that serviced the lighthouses in some of Scotland’s remote and storm-lashed locations. It now sits permanentlyin the Port of Leith and welcomes guests into its sumptuous rooms following its £5million development. What’s clear is that no detail has been overlooked in its meticulous design and interiors.
Each cabin is named after one of the Robert Stevenson-designed lighthouses that the ship serviced during its working life. The interiors are exceedingly luxe, with Scottish leather, cedar wardrobes, fabric headboards embedded with shipping map contours, mossy-green tartan furnishings, brass fixtures, and the most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in (we started referring to it as “the cloud” following a particularly good nights sleep on our first night).
On our first afternoon, we partook of the Fingal’s afternoon tea in its Lighthouse Bar. The bar itself is reminiscent of a ships dining room, elevated by its marble tables, leather upholstery, brass furnishings and the spectacular reflective hand-beaten metal ceiling which represents the open water. The afternoon tea was a lavish affair of savoury delicacies (including what we concluded to be one of the best sausage rolls we’ve ever tasted) followed by a delightful dessert selection including delicate macaroons, light and fluffy scones and delectable cakes which resulted in a mild, yet very satisfying late-afternoon food coma.
The Fingal’s location of Leith turned out to be revelatory. The hipsters have moved into this formally “edgy” neighbourhood and brought with them an eclectic array of world-class restaurants (including a couple of Michy stars), bars which focus on locally made whiskeys, beers and liqueurs and a generally hip atmosphere. I recommend a walk along the area known as the Shore, which is a short 3 minute walk from Fingal, to sample the local eating and imbibing establishments.
The staff at the Fingal have that easy and welcoming friendliness typical of the Scots, which is a refreshing antidote to the rush and pace of London life. And as the Fingal was developed by the Royal Yacht Britannia (the royal yacht of Her Majesty), the wonderfully helpful concierge can arrange a visit to tour the Royal Yacht itself, an experience we found to be surprisingly compelling.
But back to the Fingal, if you can arrange to have a tour of the hotel itself you’ll love it even more. From the light-filled ballroom at the front of the ship to the lovingly spruced up engine room, it’s an experience you’ll savour.
A stay on the Fingal is the perfect way to experience Edinburgh, while experiencing the luxurious spaces of the ship together with its fascinating history in a unique neighbourhood. And I can’t recommend it highly enough.