After leaving my swanky flat in Quartermile, I headed southeast to Edinburgh’s Newington neighborhood and my new abode for the next nine nights: Hotel Ceilidh-Donia. Calling it a hotel is almost disingenuous. With fewer than 20 rooms, a cozy atmosphere, friendly staff that enjoy talking to you, and delicious food, Hotel Ceilidh-Donia felt more like a large B&B than a hotel. While there’s no shortage of hotels in Edinburgh, there certainly is a dearth of excellent, affordable B&B-style accommodation.
To be honest, leaving the centrally-located Quartermile development for a place slightly off the beaten track concerned me. I like to be in the center of life as much as possible so I can easily walk and explore the place, but the concerns I had about its southerly location were forgotten as Sarah and I read through the hotel’s glowing TripAdvisor reviews and WarriorPoet’s kind and thorough responses. That’s the manager, Maxx, and with names like Ceilidh-Donia (a word play on Caledonia, one of Scotland’s old names) and WarriorPoet I quickly got a sense of his fun, quirky character.
Prior to my arrival, Maxx and I had exchanged some e-mails and I was looking forward to having a dram and chat with him. When I arrived to Hotel Ceilidh-Donia after a quick 10-minute bus ride from the city center, he and his wife were on holiday in the south of Spain. It was the perfect opportunity to explore the place and form some opinions on my own.
Sited on a quiet crescent bordering Holyrood Park with a spectacular view to Arthur’s Seat, Hotel Ceilidh-Donia occupies three floors in a Victorian townhouse. Warm maroon walls led me through the entryway into the comfy bar/check-in/lounge area. A bright dining room where breakfast and dinner (Mon-Thurs) is served for guests opens from the check-in area.
Guests have several options for breakfast, including English, Scottish, American, and vegetarian breakfasts as well as other options like Scottish salmon with scrambled eggs. With the exception of the vegetarian breakfast (come on, who could skip bangers and rashers?) I tried every breakfast. Nine mornings afford that convenience. Everything was cooked to order, delicious, and set me up for the day the way a good Scottish breakfast should.
The quality of dinner truly surprised me. One night I had a sweet potato and red pepper soup accompanied by a salad of stilton, apples, arugula, and poppy seeds that was superb. It’s easy to underestimate the convenience of having dinner available in your hotel, especially when really good restaurants might be a bit too far away.
My room lay at the top of the winding staircase and overlooked the street below. It was small but comfortable and very clean. A cut-out in the wall next to the bed provided ample space for me to stuff all of my pocket gear while a shallow wardrobe held most of my clothing. A ginormous window brought in a lot of light and the ceiling must have been 17ft above me. Best of all is that I had an en-suite bathroom with a good shower. Bad showers are everywhere in Scotland; this was a good one. It took me a day to mentally transition from my enormous flat, but once I did I found this room to be a homey place.
Maxx and I finally got to have a proper discussion on my last night at the hotel. I had just returned from drinking copious amounts of free beer at Stewart Brewing so I was half in the bag when we started having many, many drams of whisky. Conversation drifted from whisky to war to the meaning of the universe to…admittedly, there are some gaps in my memory. I think there was an impromptu recitation of Maxx’s poem, Oracles Shoot Flames. The following day was horrendous but that night was one of the best.
Maxx is a generous, interesting host and he exemplifies the atmosphere of Hotel Ceilidh-Donia. This is where B&Bs and metro hotels like Hotel Ceilidh-Donia get a leg up on self-catering accommodations like my Quartermile flat rental. Unlike the Hotel California, I was able to both check out and leave. And I’d love to return.
Full disclosure: I received the business rate for my stay at Hotel Ceilidh-Donia.