Located on an elegant crescent, a stone’s throw from the centre of Stockbridge, a ground floor apartment in a row of imposing Georgian residences is our latest ‘home away from home’ holiday rental in Edinburgh.
It may be just a ten-minute stroll from the centre of Edinburgh, and a further five-ten minutes to The Royal Mile, but Stockbridge is like a little village, with charming old shop-fronts that are home to traditional pubs, cafés and casual eateries, specialty food stores – from fishmongers to cheesemongers – charity shops, and book and music stores.
They are shops that are ran on old-fashioned manners, where everyone behind the counter is ready for a chat, where the cheesemonger tells you what farm his cheeses comes from and the butcher tells you exactly how many minutes to steam your haggis. Even the staff at the enormous Waitrose supermarket are friendly.
A shaded creek, the Water of Leith, runs parallel to our street just a block from the apartment, and there is a lovely walking path that follows the course of the waterway in one direction to Dean Village and in the other to Inverleith Park and the Botanic Gardens. It’s a delight to explore, especially on a Sunday when locals are out getting some exercise and walking their dogs.
The apartment itself is compact but spacious enough for a couple that intends to be out and about all day. Two floor-to-ceiling windows give a lovely view to the cobblestone street, creating a light-filled space of the kitchen-dining-living room.
This space is quite niftily designed. At first glance it appears to simply be a living area with a large comfy sofa covered in scatter cushions, overlooking a fireplace, television and writing desk, a round wooden dining table for four, and a large cupboard at the back of the room.
The doors to that ‘cupboard’, however, open to reveal a whole kitchen hidden away inside. There’s a half-size fridge, freezer, microwave, dishwasher, and washing machine in the lower cupboards, and a sink, stovetop and black marble bench space in the main recess.
Shelves and cupboards hold plenty of white dinnerware and glassware, a decent selection of pots, pans, and handy things like a colander and blender, not always provided at properties we’ve stayed at this year.
An oven opens inwards within the secret cupboard, making things a bit tricky if you’re using the bench space in front of it, and, likewise, on the other side, a cupboard opens over the sink, making things a tad awkward if you’re using the sink. The idea behind this is obviously so everything can be tucked away for guests who want little more than hotel-like accommodation, but we like to cook so we left it open the whole time.
So while the kitchen is excellent for preparing breakfast, lunch, or pasta, if you want to do anything a little complex or hold a dinner party, you have to be a super-organized cook. Having said that, Terence did whip up a three-course meal here which he’ll tell you about in another post.
There’s a cupboard crammed with basic condiments and cooking ingredients, a row of glass jars on the bench-top holding everything from tea and sugar to muesli and cereals, and the owner also provided some basics to get us started for breakfast, and very thoughtfully left us some haggis to try.
We greatly appreciated this. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a holiday rental with absolutely nothing to start the morning with, and if you’re staying a while, having to then stock the whole kitchen. We always end up leaving plenty of groceries at places ourselves, so it would be nice to know that things like our flour and couscous didn’t go to waste and might enable the next guest to whip up a quick meal if they get in late one night.
The bedroom is charming and comfortable with various kinds of shelves, hanging space and coat racks, and enough room to open our bags up, and spread out. The heating in the bedroom – and throughout the apartment – also made the place nice and warm and toasty, and I imagine in warmer months the high ceilings and stone exterior would keep the place cool.
The bathroom was very stylish-looking with smart slate floors and wouldn’t have been amiss in a design hotel. There’s a good-sized bath, shower, sink and toilet, nice towels, and the owner even provides quality shampoo and conditioner, soap, and toilet paper. The lighting was a little dim for my taste, the sink a little small, and the shower leaked a tad if you take a long shower – just like they do in good design hotels! But these are all very minor criticisms.
There’s fast Wi-Fi Internet access that worked seamlessly, a good range of channels on the television, which has a built-in DVD player, and there’s an iPod docking station. The desk in the corner also has a computer if you don’t bring your own laptop.
All up, this is a lovely property in a wonderful neighbourhood that would make a superb base for a short or long stay. I don’t think we could have found a more homier place in Edinburgh, and it’s making us a bit sorry that this is going to be our final stay on our yearlong grand tour.