‘It’s a dog’s life’ is frequently used to describe a miserable, sad existence. Whoever coined the phrase had obviously never visited the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel with their four-legged friend.
Mr G and I recently had the pleasure of staying at the plush, four star establishment in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town with The Wee White Dug (he was on Kimpton Ambassadog duty). Don’t you just love when it’s take your humans to work day?
With a forecast of heavy rain for our Edinburgh staycation, we wouldn’t be enjoying the al fresco lunch we’d hoped for. Disappointing, but the city offers lots of dog friendly dining options. We’d easily find somewhere to eat and shelter from the rain (or tomorrow’s whisky if you’re an optimist).
Lunch – Fortuna Coffee Bar
We love discovering new eateries on our travels, so were delighted to find Fortuna Coffee Bar a short hop from Kimpton Charlotte Square. Since opening in December 2018, the West End coffee bar has been receiving rave reviews. It sounded right up our street with soup, sandwiches, quality coffee (from a local roastery) plus wine and beer on the menu.
It was wet and grey outside but inside, Fortuna Coffee Bar was cosy, with a relaxed, friendly ambiance. The boy was welcomed with a biscuit, much to his delight.
The soup of the day was butternut squash and black bean – a combination I’d normally pass on. I’m trying to embrace what I think I don’t like though, so I ordered it along with a toastie, coffee and chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Mr G, chose the same, only swapping Pinot for Peroni.
The soup had a nice spicy kick and was the perfect warmer on a miserable day. I was pleased with my (throwing caution to the wind) choice.
The toastie wasn’t your conventional white bread and orange cheese combo. It was an open toastie on sourdough bread, topped with chicken, chorizo, cheese and tomato. It was a very tasty, toastie indeed.
Our cold drinks hit the spot nicely, and with the rain lashing down outside we were in no hurry to leave our nice, dry hangout.
A dog friendly city centre walk
As tempting as it was, we couldn’t sit quaffing wine and beer all afternoon. The rain had eased to a persistent drizzle, so we seized the opportunity to spend time outdoors.
We headed to Princes Street Gardens for a walk in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Living in Edinburgh I tend to take the castle for granted, but sometimes when I stop and look up at it I let out a little “wow”.
There are lots of great places in Edinburgh to walk a dog – from beach, to riverside, hill and garden. Princes Street Gardens, which sit between the Old and New Town, are a favourite city centre option of mine. They’re green and pleasant, and a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street (Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare).
Once inside the gardens, the Wee White Dug preceded to sniff every tree, blade of grass and flower. Exasperated, we soon decided we’d had enough of drizzle and sniffing. It was time to check out our posh digs.
Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel
We were greeted by Concierge, Robbie outside the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel. He made a fuss of the boy, acquiring a NBF (new best friend) in the process. Robbie has the best job in the world – one of his duties is to walk the doggies who stay at the hotel (there’s no additional charge for this service, or for dogs to stay).
Dog walking isn’t the only service that comes free of charge either. If you fancy touring Edinburgh on two wheels you can borrow a bike from reception. On a dry day we may have considered popping Casper in a basket and cycling off to enjoy the sunshine.
Superior Townhouse room
After Mr Casper Grant Esquire got us checked in (our booking was in his name), Robbie showed us to our room and gave us a rundown of the facilities.
The Kimpton Charlotte Square is located in a rabbit warren of seven interconnecting townhouses in the city’s Georgian New Town. The New Town, along with Edinburgh’s historic Old Town is one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Our room was a Superior Townhouse King with a view of Charlotte Square. It was spacious with beautiful Georgian features. The decor was traditional, but with a modern twist. It was really sumptuous – the kind of room where you want to immediately don a robe and slippers to indulge in blissful idleness.
Goodies for dogs and humans too
The boy, made a beeline for some doggy goodies he discovered in the room. He wolfed down a treat, before turning his attention to a dog bed which had been provided for his comfort. A welcome pack for canine guests, made it clear four-legged guests were extremely welcome at the hotel. In fact, it suggested they were less troublesome than pesky humans.
There were human goodies too, including complimentary popcorn, crisps and biscuits in a tuck box, plus mineral water and fresh milk in the fridge. There was even quality Brazilian coffee, which had been freshly roasted in Edinburgh. I love a good cup of coffee so was delighted to find filter coffee not sachets.
It was tempting to hang out in our gorgeous room, but we decided to have an afternoon tipple instead.
An afternoon tipple in The Garden
The Kimpton Charlotte Square has two restaurants with bars. Baba which is inspired by the Middle East and serves a menu of exotic delights, and The Garden which is a green and airy haven. The Garden is dog friendly, so it’s where we headed for drinks.
With the rain still persisting outside, it felt like we’d cheated the weather to enjoy an fresco G&T. In fact, it felt like we’d left Edinburgh entirely, and were hanging out at an exotic holiday destination. Probably why Copacabana was playing on a loop in my head.
The Garden immediately became one of our new favourite places in town. Perfect for lazy lunches, drinks after work and Sunday brunch. But first dinner, which we had a reservation for that evening.
The Garden at Kimpton Charlotte Square
After a couple of hours spent loafing in our room, it was time to get spruced up for dinner.
The Garden was busy when we arrived, but it still retained a feeling of calm. We perused the menus (cocktail first, then food) – priorities and all that.
The boy was fussed over with compliments, dog treats and a bowl of water. The waiting staff even brought him a dog bed so he could recline at our table like a Roman emperor. How’s that for service?
Cocktails and mains
Our first round of cocktails were a hazelnut martini for me, and a garden rum punch for Mr G – both deeeeeeelicious. We were overwhelmed by an urge to gulp them, but willpower prevailed and we sipped like Victorian ladies drinking tea.
We skipped starters and went straight to the main course. I chose rigatoni pasta, butternut squash, chilli, sage and pecorino. Fish lover Mr G opted for haddock, hand-cut chips and tartar sauce with NO mushy peas. He thinks peas are the spawn of the devil – I disagree.
I usually avoid ordering pasta in hotels (unless I’m in Italy) as it’s often served overcooked and drowning in a bland tomato sauce. Not this time though – the sage, chilli and pecorino were a lovely combination of flavours and the pasta was perfectly al dente.
Mr G loved his fish and chips. He kindly offered me a chip – who am I to refuse? It was light, fluffy and very tasty.
More cocktails and dessert
After finishing our main courses we ordered another round of cocktails and dessert.
This time our cocktails of choice were a peach and rose fizz for me and a strawberry and rhubarb Bellini for Mr G – also delicious.
For dessert I had milk chocolate tart with sea buckthorn sorbet and Mr G had vanilla rice pudding with poached rhubarb. He was clearly on a rhubarb binge. His dessert lasted seconds, which suggests it was a hit. Mine was a pleasing mix of flavours and textures. The tart was sweet, smooth and creamy, while the sorbet was bitter, cold and crunchy.
The chilled ambiance of The Garden made it the perfect place to relax over dinner and cocktails.
Time to slip back into robes
Keen to make the most of our gorgeous room, we decided to take the boy out for a short walk, before chilling with a G&T nightcap.
Leaving the warmth of the hotel we stepped out into the wet, miserable night. Despite the foul weather Edinburgh looked lovely.
The mesmerising sight of lights reflecting on the wet pavement kept us outdoors longer than planned. There’s something comforting about seeing a warm glow emanating from inside when it’s dreich outside.
Back at our room, we slipped into our PJs and lay on the bed to watch TV – G&Ts in hand. Ten minutes later we succumbed to sleep. That’s the danger of chilling in a super, comfy room.
We all slept soundly that night.
A feast for breakfast
The next morning, we woke feeling fresh and looking forward to breakfast. Outside, the rain had stopped and there was even a hint of blue sky.
After showering using divine, smelling toiletries from British perfume designer Azzi Glasser (it’s all about luxury at the Kimpton), it was time to eat. Mr G was verging on hangry.
A huge, breakfast buffet was laid out in The Garden and cooked options were available to order. Oooh, what to choose? Cooked or Continental? In the end I opted for a little of each.
I started with bread, meat and cheese, plus the most heavenly, pre-prepared muesli I have ever tasted. It was creamy, sweet and absolutely delicious.
Next, I had some items from the full Scottish breakfast. Bacon, Macsween Haggis, plus tomato and mushroom (a nod to the recommended five a day). Does grilled fruit and veg count?
Mr G ploughed his way through a breakfast mountain. He kicked-off with Continental, chased down by a large bowl of porridge with honey and berries, then finished with toast and a bacon roll.
Morning walkies in the New town
With check out at 12pm, there was no rush for us to vacate our room, so after breakfast we took the boy out for a walk. As temporary residents of Charlotte Square, we were able to use the hotel’s key to access the private gardens in the centre of the square.
I’ve only ever been in Charlotte Square Gardens when they’re open to the public for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s a great event, but always busy. Having the gardens to ourselves was wonderful. The boy seemed to sense it was a rare opportunity, as he tore around full of glee.
His antics were watched by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved Prince Consort.
After a fine display of crazy running, the daft dug finally stopped for a rest.
Leaving Charlotte Square Gardens, we headed east along Thistle Street towards St Andrew’s Square.
Edinburgh’s understated street art
Edinburgh doesn’t do street art like Glasgow and Aberdeen, but if you pay close attention to the road signs around Thistle Street and St Andrew’s Square you may spot some discreet gems by acclaimed street artist Clet Abraham. His work in popular in Paris (where I first fell in love with his art), London, Rome and Milan. Last year, a number of his designs mysteriously appeared in Edinburgh, much to my delight.
Edinburgh – a coffee lovers paradise
Edinburgh was recently voted the best place in Britain for independent coffee shops, so it’s paradise for coffee aficionados like Mr G and I. Two minutes from the Kimpton Charlotte Square is one of our favourite coffee hang outs in town. Cairngorm Coffee serve extremely Instagramable coffee – it tastes fab too. Finding ourselves on the doorstep after our morning walk, it seemed rude not to pop in for a flat white.
Time to check out
Pretty coffees consumed (and photographed), it was time to check out of our New Town abode. We’d had an amazing stay from start to finish. The staff, food, decor, everything about the Kimpton Charlotte Square was perfect.
Ok, if pushed, there was one thing we didn’t like about the hotel – leaving!
While our food, cocktails and accommodation were provided on a complimentary basis, all opinions are my own.
Until next time ………