We have a new hotel recommendation for you, one that’s slightly off the beaten path. It’s a new boutique B&B in Leith, of all places – a neighbourhood that you will not find at the top of most people’s recommendations. However, I’ve always been a big proponent of Leith – it is full of history and culture, both the good and the bad, and while there are some rough patches, it has a lot of charm (that is, if we would quit tearing down all the good stuff).
Having said that, there is one gorgeous building that you can now spend the night in, courtesy of Wallace Shaw and his new B&B, the Wallace Arthouse Scotland.
The building is the Leith Assembly Rooms. Now offices, flats, and now a B&B, the Leith Assembly Rooms have had a long history. The building was opened in approx 1800 as a cultural center in Leith. The venue was multipurpose, similar to the Assembly Rooms you’ll find today on George Street. The main offering was a marketplace for the exchange of goods, but there was also a ballroom and a small hotel. The venue closed long ago, and it’s sort of fitting that a small hotel has returned!
The B&B and The Owner
The Arthouse is named so because eventually there will be an art centre offering with classes and workshops. For now, though, the B&B is a simple venue with two rooms. The owner, Wallace Shaw, has a background in hospitality – he was running a B&B in Italy before opening up here in Leith. But before that he was in the fashion industry, and this experience shines through in the environment here: balance and aesthetics are of utmost importance. When you enter, the hall is very bright and airy, while the rooms themselves are filled with charming knick-nacks and literature about the area. The touches are mildly kitsch but they’re so delicately added it’s not cluttered.
There’s also a quiet sitting room, complete with all the same charm and decor. I can imagine guests enjoying light chat with Wallace as he shares his deep knowledge of Leith. Rooms are £95 double occupancy, £85 single occupancy, minimum two night reservation. That includes a continential breakfast. Both of the rooms have ensuite facilities.
Not surprisingly, Arthouse Scotland is listed in Alistair Sawday’s Special Places guides. This truly is a special place.
The Arthouse is located on Constitution Street at the intersection of Bernard Street. There are several good pubs and restaurants here (secret tip: a lot of movies are filmed right in this area too) and you’re just two blocks from The Shore – that’s the strip of high end restaurants and nightlife. Not the shore as in the water – but that isn’t very far either.
The area is very accessible; Lothian Bus 35 goes right by, taking you to Royal Yacht Britannia in a matter of minutes or alternatively to the Royal Mile in 10 minutes or so. You can catch a 22 over on the Shore which will take you up to Princes Street via Leith Walk. The 22 is more regular in terms of schedule, and it runs at night. The 35 is good too, but be sure to check the schedule and then arrive a few minutes early – it always seems to run ahead of schedule!
The History of Leith
If you aren’t going to be in Edinburgh anytime soon, or if you live here, and you’d like to learn more about the history of Leith, I’d encourage you visit/subscribe to Wallace’s blog:
Some of the stories here are absolutely incredible. He is very focused on Leith, and rightly so, and perhaps single handedly he’ll change the impression many have on this part of Edinburgh. He doesn’t write frequently, but all of the articles are very, very thorough and will have you gagging to get to Leith and explore.
For more information about Wallace’s Arthouse Scotland:
* Website: www.wallacesarthousescotland.com
* Phone: +44 0794 134 3714
* Address: 41/4 Constitution Street