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Fingal Edinburgh – the five star floating hotel
Moored in the city’s waterside suburb of Leith, luxurious Fingal Edinburgh is a welcome addition to both the capital’s hotel and dining scene
Words: Clare White
Edinburgh is not short of excellent hotels and restaurants, and yet when the floating hotel of Fingal Edinburgh arrived in 2019, it offered the Scottish capital something it never knew it needed: some Art Deco-style nautical glamour.
Run by the team behind the Royal Yacht Britannia – the former yacht of the Royal Family, now one of Edinburgh’s most popular attractions, which is berthed a short walk away – it was bound to have a regal air about it.
Once a working vessel, the luxurious transformation of Fingal Edinburgh into a glamorous Art Deco hotel is quite something – indeed it’s so impressive our late Queen deemed it worthy of a visit.
The all-round luxury experience begins as you walk up the gangway to board the ship, which feels as though you are arriving at the most exclusive of parties.
Inside, guests receive a very warm welcome, not only from the beautiful golden interior of this former lighthouse board tender, but also from the super-friendly steward, who is ready to take your coat and explain all about the ship and its maritime history.
Cabins are characterful, comfortable, and so much more charming than those typically found on cruise ships – they also vary in size from the most snug ‘Classic Cabin’ to the penthouse-style ‘Skeeyvore Suite’ (which comes with its own private deck).
Regardless of the level of luxury you opt for, there is a warm glow in the cabins from the Davy lamps, while portholes give views of the twinkling city and night sky.
Tartan throws and crisp linen sheets make bedding down something to look forward to (with none of the seasickness you might encounter if you were actually at sea) and bathrooms, with their heavy brass taps, rainfall showers, and Noble Isle toiletries, are perfect for a spruce-up prior to dinner.
Once ready for dinner, guests can take the glass lift, up past the captain’s bridge, to the Lighthouse Restaurant.
The dining room is beautiful, capturing the style and quality of an ocean liner, with a stunning undulated gold celling and plush bar. There is even an aft deck, or champagne deck, for drinks in better weather, with cosy rugs for cooler nights.
The head barman/sommelier is on hand to make the most fantastic cocktails and advise on wine pairings, and there is a choice of either individual tables or booths – if you’re lucky you may even have the honour of being seated at the table at which Queen Elizabeth II herself dined.
The lovely, unstuffy staff are only too happy to talk you through the menu, which has recently been awarded a coveted two AA Rosettes – the AA also recently bestowed five-star status on Fingal’s cabins.
To start, there is salmon that has been smoked on board — the ship has three galleys – served with cucumber relish and buckwheat blinis, or you could enjoy the Eyemouth Crab in a little tart covered in a mouth-watering tomato water, served with cream cheese and lovage oil.
To follow, the lightly salted cod with comfit chicken wing is highly recommended, as is the vegetarian option, the cabbage, that even the meat-eaters in our party loved. The roasted Hispi cabbage is served with mushroom duxelles, charred baby leeks, and brown butter hollandaise and is decidedly delicious.
To finish there is a selection of delectable desserts: the Gateau Breton is almost like a raspberry Bakewell tart that comes with a compote full of Scottish flavours, that is both tart and sweet and is served with mascarpone for a perfect balance. Another favourite of our party was the apple tarte Tatin, with vanilla ice cream, rum-soaked raisins, and butterscotch sauce.
Afterwards, coffee or teas are served with petite fours at your table, or you can sit on the sofas and mingle with other hotel guests, adding to the feeling of being at sea.
When it’s finally time to drag yourself away from this very special experience, don’t forget to look in the engine room, deep in the hull of the ship, before you head back to your cabin, or if you’re just here for dinner, your steward will accompany you to the gangway, where sadly you must descend back into the real world.
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