By Karen Carruth

An invite to review the new DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh – Queensferry Crossing which opened in July last year following a massive £15m investment was not to be sniffed at.

Queensferry? Isn’t that the place everyone passes over enroute to either Fife or on the way back heading toward the capital and the west? Underneath the three bridges on both the north and south side, the ‘Queensferry’s are hidden gems that need a little more investigation. However, this overnight was in the diary as relaxation only, away from children and spouses and the sister and I had little in mind other than eating and lying still.

A little about the hotel, it sits in an unrivalled position, perched on the north side, perched on a hill between the road bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing – the views are epic, you’ll be wanting your camera to hand. The hotel sits in 10 acres of parkland on the headland above the historic town of North Queensferry.

I must stress, please read the instructions on how to get there, we didn’t as we could see the hotel on the hill and went for the ‘let’s just see where this road goes’ routefinder option. The outcome was two nervously giggling women on the old road bridge, which you are most definitely not allowed on, and a panicked u-turn dodging cones and traffic cameras got us onto the correct road. We spoke to a couple in the lift who did exactly the same thing, so maybe a little more signage would be useful.

It’s a Hilton hotel, so there’s a standard that is expected, and the refurbishment is impressive with a new double-height atrium which is the focal point of the hotel and sets the tone for the quality that guests can expect. Light and airy, with ceiling to floor windows, the marble clad floors and reception pods create an ambience and are complemented by modern chandeliers and designer touches throughout.

But on to the important stuff, our bags were swiped from our hands at the foot of the steps and a warm chocolate chip and nut cookie is handed to everyone in the foyer… oh yes. This is a good start.

With the addition of 64 new rooms the hotel now features 141 spacious guest rooms and suites with comfy Sweet Dream beds and bathrooms featuring invigorating showers and luxury toiletries. Flat screen TVs, connections for guest media devices, complimentary wireless internet and tea and coffee making facilities complete the in-room experience. Taking full advantage of its elevated position, many of the rooms afford unrivalled, panoramic views over the Forth and iconic bridges. Guests also have use of a new, air-conditioned gym located on the ground floor.

The thrill never diminishes in a hotel when you find the freebies, the quality and quantity of the complimentary toiletries is important business, people. In this instance the hotel has won itself some hefty brownie points. Deep breath: shave kit, toothbrush and paste, shower cap, grooming kit, mending kit, comb, and a shoe mitt. Impressive eh? As well as the Crabtree and Evelyn shampoos and body lotions. It’s the little (free) things that matter, particularly to us ladies.

We were in a twin room with a decent view of the Queensferry Crossing. The suites are likely to have the panoramic views. The room was spacious and the beds were really comfy. A few goodies awaited us on arrival. Rose lemonade, some crisps and a kitkat, which were a welcome snack to get us settled in.

Before we got to the hotel, in a rare moment of sunshine we had a stroll around South Queensferry. It was busy with cars parked and bus trips dropping tourists to take photos of the bridges, as well as herding them toward the Forth Boat Tours, which offers boat trips under the three bridges, or you can choose to head over to Incholm Island, which has a historic and well preserved abbey on it. A haven for wildlife, on a sunny day like today, the 1 ½ hour trip is a lovely way to spend a day and it’s reasonably priced.

We were looking for lunch, but browsed the gift shops in the village first – there was an immense amount of motorcyclists zipping around. I believe there is a famous bikers café/stop there, and why wouldn’t you head to such a scenic spot on a sunny day like today. We wanted the view while lunching and headed to Orocco Pier restaurant. However, all the tables with a view were reserved and we were facing out onto the street. A very average lunch didn’t impress us much and the restaurant was cold, so we left and headed to one of the many tearooms for tea and cakes.

A nap was needed to digest before we made an assault on dinner. The hotel is rightly proud of its restaurant, The Shore Grill & Fish House, which is the latest destination venue from the creators of the acclaimed Twenty Princes Street and Juniper cocktail bar on Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

With massive picture windows that sweep across the entire frontage this expansive new open plan restaurant and bar offers outstanding views of the new Queensferry Crossing that spans the Forth. The low carved wooden ceiling gives a nod to The Shore’s maritime location and gleaming brass details pay homage to the world famous bridges on its doorstep.

According to the hotel, the seasonally changing all day menu features simple, yet carefully crafted dishes using inventive techniques and the very best local produce and is matched by an equally impressive selection of cocktails, wine and drinks.

With the sun going down, we took our seats right next to the full length glass doors that open to give that alfresco feel. However, since the sun was going down, it was getting chilly, so it was time to close the doors but the view is indeed something that can steal conversation. It’s an entertainment in its own right.

As the name suggests, the Shore Grill and Fish House, specialises in steaks and fish. Cod in a three hop beer sauce; East Coast fish pie; Seafood broth; Ayrshire port, Haddock supper, there is one veggie option, the Toasted Fregula… I don’t know what this is either. There was also a burger and a seared salmon option.

The steaks are from grass fed cattle, sourced from the finest farms in the Scottish Borders. With an emphasis on sustainable farming all beef is individually selected by their master butcher. All steaks are grilled at 450 degrees on our Josper charcoal grill for a genuine chargrilled smoked flavour.

We (the sister and I have similar tastes) had fillet steak, £30 for the 8oz option. With peppercorn sauce and chunky hand cut chips, along with sticky balsamic silver skin onions and a bowl of mushrooms. The steak was exquisite, cooked to perfection for both of us. The onions, which were an addition were very tasty and indeed sticky, but there were enough for a family of four, so we couldn’t finish them.

As for desserts, nowadays I notice that desserts seem to cost as much as the main courses in many restaurants, so it was refreshing to see that the puddings were a reasonable £5. We opted for the sea salt and vanilla tablet brownie with honeycomb ice cream. A brownie with chunks of tablet in it, my dentist won’t thank me for that one but goodness it was gorgeous.

The staff in both the restaurant and the hotel in general were delightful. Knowledgeable, patient and seemed happy to be there. We got a call an hour after we arrived to check that we were happy with our room.

Breakfast in the morning was your usual full cooked number, as well as the healthier options that you would expect. I noticed a few waitresses in the morning were more mature ladies, which gave a more homely feel for some reason.

The location of the Hilton by Doubletree is perfect for exploring north into Fife, or you can jump on a bus just along the road which will take you into Edinburgh. A terrific base to see the east coast in all its glory, whether by train, car or boat. And the restaurant is most definitely worth a visit, but book ahead, it is busy with both guests and locals who know the best places to eat.

St Margaret’s Head

North Queensferry

KY11 1HP

01383 410000