Great Places to Stay
- The Hilton, Dundee
Dundee - City of Discovery
Dundee is known as the City of Discovery to celebrate the Discovery Ship of Antarctic exploration fame which is moored here and part of a fabulous visitor attraction. With the Dundee Rep theatre, modern art gallery, heritage museums, Children's Science centre, shopping malls and the new City Quay discount designer outlet, and new bars and restaurants, this is a thriving and lively city to explore with something to do and see for all ages.
Dundee is a perfect compact city centre to walk around - leave the car at home or at the hotel and enjoy strolling around. And the Hilton is bang in the centre just a few minutes walk from the Discovery ship, the Station, City Quay, with a handy pedestrian walkway leading directly up to the City Square and shopping precinct. No wonder the Hilton Dundee is a popular base for visitors, business travellers, conferences and weddings.
The Hilton Hotel in Dundee must boast the most spectacular and unique city locations across the UK. Situated right on the riverfront, between the Tay Rail bridge and the Tay road bridge, most bedrooms, restaurant and function suites and leisure centre have superb views of the silvery Tay. It's also ideal for visitors arriving by train from where it's just a three minute walk away, past the magnificent old Discovery sailing ship itself.
The Hilton Dundee opened just fifteen years ago and is therefore a purpose built property with leisure and business guests in mind. The lobby and reception area is well designed and welcoming, leading directly through to the open and spacious lounge bar, café and restaurant beyond, with a huge picture window right along overlooking the river. Caffe Cino is a buzzing and lively place for all day drinks, coffee, lunch and snacks.
Bedrooms are in two categories, Standard twin/double and Club Rooms, which are described as slightly larger with two windows for an even better view of the Firth of Tay. There are also three suites offering a very pleasant separate sitting area and recommended if you like more space than the average city hotel room.
Design and furnishings of Club Room 234 is adequate although rather old fashioned - be prepared for bright pink flowered curtains and bedspread and unfortunately all rather shabby. It is fair to point out that refurbishment is due to take place later this year.
For a four star hotel, home comforts are minimal with just one pillow per person, a single armchair (not ideal for two people sharing) but praise is given for supplying an iron, ironing board, trouser press and, surprisingly, towelling bathrobes. Standard small bathroom and combined bath/shower. The choice of TV stations is disappointing - BBC 1, 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News. Why no Channel 5 and a cable movie channel? There is however a selection of in-house pay for movies and Playstation facility.
A few personal quibbles aside, the Hilton name is of course synonymous with quality, comfortable facilities. friendly service and hospitality for a wide range of guests - weekenders, golfers, families, weekday business people and conference groups.
The Living Well leisure centre offers a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym which is free for hotel guests and also popular with 1,500 local members. Regular aerobic and fitness classes take place in a huge airy wood floored hall. With direct access on the ground floor from the lobby, you can pop down in your bathrobe for a pre-breakfast swim or early evening work out. What other city hotels will provide a spacious attractive blue tiled pool, complete with loungers around the side and a well equipped fitness centre, both with views out over the river. This is an excellent leisure centre and a great incentive to keep fit while staying here.
Well Situated for Golfers
The Hilton Dundee is particularly keen to attract golfers, both individuals and groups, to enjoy this city-centre base, with thirty golf courses within a half hours drive in each direction - over the Tay Bridge south to St. Andrews, (just 20 minutes away), north to Carnoustie, Arbroath, Montrose and over to Ladybank and Scotscraig - to name a few. The manager, Eric Brown is a keen golfer, as his daughter, and while there are no special golf packages, the hotel offers special Golf Links rates to players and is only too happy to assist in planning a personal tailor-made tour, suggesting where to go and arrange tee times for you. If you arrive by train, car hire can easily be arranged to take you out and about around the Courses. Golf is of course a popular year round sport and with rather windy and wet conditions likely out on the Links breakfast at the Hilton Dundee offers a special sustenance, as golfer, Bill Robertson experienced:"Golfers are even offered a splash of malt whisky on their porridge to ensure you at least started the day fully insulated against whatever elements might be in store."
So, instead of finding accommodation in or around St. Andrews, opt for an alternative and economical place to stay at the Hilton with all the added culture and nightlife of Dundee.
For corporate guests the Hilton specialises in offering business and convention facilities whatever the function for 4 people to 350. A major £150,000 investment programme completed in 2001 has created five new quality meeting rooms making a total of ten rooms including a Boardroom seating twelve, with large leather chairs, electric screen and audio visual facilities. For larger meetings there is a choice of conference and banqueting suites, with individually catered hospitality. For the last four years Hilton has been number one in the hotel meetings market, according to independent market research.
Wining and Dining
And so to wining and dining. The Unicorn Restaurant is more a casual brasserie than fine dining and serves buffet meals as well as a Grill menu, served by a waiter. Buffet menu - pork, lamb, chicken or salmon or alternatively the A la carte selection - beef, lamb, chicken or salmon. Choice is certainly limited.
With smoked salmon also offered as a starter, fish lovers are not particularly well catered for. But the three course Buffet is priced at under £20 and is therefore a good deal. Starters are a selection of hors d`oeveres or home made soup. The salads were in fact very good, with ratatouille, grilled vegetables, various pasta and potato salads, smoked trout and mackerel, savoury rice, lettuce and tomato.
The main courses are very generous helpings - such as a huge slice of lamb or salmon en croute, with a pile of broccoli, carrots and roast potatoes. Vegetarian dishes are on offer but again, not particularly appetising - Herb roasted cous cous with lemon grass skewers - but you cannot eat lemon grass skewers so it sounds like a plate of cous cous. A starter of Linguine with Pesto and Melted Tomatoes looked and tasted like overcooked spaghetti in a cream sauce. So back to the hors d`oeuvre for a second larger helping as a main course. The salads and vegetables were an inventive combination of textures and flavours, freshly prepared and tasty.
Puddings are standard fare - fruit salad, ice cream or Celtic cheese which turned out to be large slabs of (refrigerator cold) white cheddar, red cheddar, stilton and brie. There's a modest wine list with some fine New World house wines. Service throughout dinner is friendly and casual but don't expect `fine dining` service eg. a taste of wine before it is poured or for your wine to be topped up.
Room Service Menu
And so back to the room where later, a large colourful Room Service menu is found lurking in a drawer. "Delicious Food direct to your room". This has a wide selection of international cuisine such as Taste of Asia - Chicken Tikka Masala, Raj Vegetable Curry, and Sweet and Sour King Prawn Balls, together with samosas, bhajis and spring rolls. Or why not an Italian feast with a choice of pizza and pastas and there's also the Grill with steaks and burgers including a veggie cheese and walnut burger. Or comfort eating with the Chip Shop menu - classic fish and chips, scampi and beef steak pie and a healthy salad bar - Caesar and Mediterranean salads which can be served with steaks, chicken or salmon fillet. There's jacket potatoes, omelettes too.
So be warned - check the Room Service menu out before venturing downstairs. But the question is - why can't they offer this wonderful selection of Asian, Italian, Chip shop, Grill and Salad bar in the restaurant. Imaginative innovative and appetising - unlike the restaurant menus.
Best Meal of the Day
Breakfast is the best meal of the day and especially when you are away from home, enjoy someone else cooking for you.
Back to the Unicorn restaurant the next morning and the Buffet has been transformed into a breakfasting banquet fit for kings. Cereals, porridge, (with or without a dram of whisky), muesli, prunes, fresh fruit, natural yoghurt, cheese, croissants, pastries, and fruit juice. On the hot plate, Stuart the Chef is on hand to toss you an omelette or a waffle, cook boiled, poached, fried, or scrambled eggs just as you wish.
Then help yourself to bacon, sausages, vegetarian sausages (congratulations Hilton!), black pudding, fried bread, potato scone and baked beans, tomatoes and mushrooms. Good fresh hot toast, tea and coffee were also brought to the table. An early morning swim in the leisure pool gave a hearty appetite. And ideal for those golfers ready to tee off in an hour or so!.
For more information or to make a reservation see the Hilton Dundee Web site.
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