What's the current must-have for any major fashion label? Not so much an "it" bag (very déclassé – do keep up) but an "it" hotel. Versace, Bulgari, Ralph Lauren and Christian Lacroix all have interior-designed hotels, while Armani is set to open one in Dubai and Moschino in Milan later this year. Now, the Italian label Missoni – best known for its multicoloured zigzag patterns – has just opened a 136-room hotel in Scotland's capital. More will follow in Kuwait, Cape Town and Oman. The location of the label's first property is surprising, since Edinburgh is not as obviously high fashion as say Milan or Paris, but Rosita Missoni, creative director and co-founder of the company has explained that "Edinburgh was the first offer we received. The city is full of charm, history, tradition, culture. And the location was quite prestigious."

The modernist-looking building is just off the Royal Mile – the busy main street for the Old Town, leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Perhaps the location was a clever choice, as the upbeat quirkiness of the hotel's aesthetic is intensified by Edinburgh's often majestically gloomy architecture – and weather.

Capturing the label's penchant for hectic pattern without turning the interior into something that resembles a bad trip was always going to require restraint. Certainly there is a hint of Austin Powers to some areas – you really need to like purple for the loos by the restaurant to appeal – but generally it's in a good, undeniably "groovy, baby" way.

The main colour scheme is in black and white, punctuated with bursts of bright colour and graphic Missoni prints framed as art on the walls. The bold design won't be to everyone's taste but I found it a really fun, welcome change from the "death -by-greige" décor on offer at so many hotels.

One thing missing is a decent lounge. The "breakout area" adjoining three private meeting rooms is vaguely reminiscent of a corporate version of Big Brother's diary room. Otherwise, the hotel comes up trumps for eating, drinking and socialising, with an Italian restaurant called Cucina, and a bar on the ground floor.

Cucina was developed by Giorgio Locatelli and Rosita Missoni. The uniformly charming staff serve good, seasonal Italian food on the label's distinctive psychedelic-patterned crockery and tablecloths. It has a great wine list and a helpful sommelier. Breakfast has the usual hot options, plus fruit, cereal and pastries – and a variety of Italian biscuits.

The casually cool ground-floor bar, with curved counter and intimate alcoves with low-cushioned stools, is fast becoming one of Edinburgh's chicest meeting spots.


Hotel Missoni, 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 (12A)D (0131 220 6666; hotelmissoni.com). In the heart of the Old Town just off the Royal Mile, the hotel is well placed for all the big tourist attractions. Edinburgh Castle is just up the road, the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace are 10 minutes' walk away, and the shops of Princes Street 20 minutes.

Time from rail station/international airport: the property is a short walk from Edinburgh's main railway station, Waverley, with trains from across England and Scotland. This is also the terminus for buses from Edinburgh airport; otherwise it's about 20 minutes and £15-£20 in a taxi.


Our suite – one of seven on the top floor – featured a corner window with Sixties-style fringing and dramatic views, a swivelling pop-art chair, Bose TV on a desk and a good sized bathroom. The standard rooms are also a decent size, and similarly decorated with silver leather headboards on the very comfortable beds, zig-zag patterned linen and olive green or indigo walls.

The bathrooms have deep aubergine walls, vast heated mirrors and even in the standard rooms they are spacious enough for walk-in showers. The towels and lightening-striped dressing gowns are luxuriously plush (and correspondingly expensive, the dressing gowns are on sale for £170.) The mini-bar is surprising spartan – a couple of beers, fresh milk for morning coffee and bottled water – but that's probably because the contents are included in the room rate. There is a gym on the ground floor and a spa opening soon.

Freebies: Missoni-branded toiletries in the bathroom

Keeping in touch: there is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel and the large Bose TVs can be connected to your iPod or laptop (although there were teething problems when we visited). There are also laptops at reception, which you can borrow if you've forgotten your own.

The bottom line

The official starting rate is £210 for a double room, with breakfast, two items of laundry, Wi-Fi, free minibar, free local calls and movies on demand all included in the cost of the room. The best available walk-in rate can be as low as £125 for the room and extras, but no breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Edinburgh Central is a hostel with a difference – clean-lined rooms with en-suite bathrooms, a colourful café and Wi-Fi throughout. Dorm beds from £16 and doubles from £51 (0870 155 3255; edinburghcentral.org).