The dignified and impressive state dining room.(Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)

Adventures: Floating ‘Boatique’ hotel berthed with HMV Britannia

New boat hotel keeps royal company; the HMV Britannia was originally owned by the Royal Family

  • Feb. 5, 2018 5:30 p.m.

By Ursula Maxwell-Lewis

Cloverdale Reporter

With two more royal weddings on the horizon and Robert Burns Day just past I thought a wee combination of both might appeal to fellow travellers this week.

Edinburgh, Scotland’s colourful capital city, never leaves travellers short of history, drama or architecture, and this spring, a new attraction will be on the horizon.

A 23-room floating ‘boatique’ hotel complete with balconies, an Art Deco-inspired interior and plenty of Roaring Twenties personality will open for business next to the Royal Yacht Britannia, a popular attraction down at Leith Docks.

The Fingal, a 239-ft. lighthouse steam tender which sailed out of Oban for 30 years, will be transformed into the new boat hotel.

Although I never saw the Fingal in Oban, I remember hearing about it. Fingal, the hero in James Macpherson’s Gaelic legends poem of the same name, means ‘white, or fair, stranger’ in Gaelic. Intertwining this mystic history with that of the tough little tender plying Oban’s rugged coastline endowed it with a hint of magic to my mind.

Eventually the MV Fingal was sold, became the MV Windsor Castle and plied the waters out of Stromness, Orkney.

The ship’s new, upgraded incarnation is reputed to be lavish and luxurious – an incredible journey for a working lighthouse tender. Perhaps it was sprinkled with magic after all.

Good neighbours are always important – even in shipping – and the ‘boatique’ will boast one of the best, the Royal Yacht Britannia.

HMY Britannia, launched from Clydebank in 1953, was originally owned by Britain’s Royal Family.

Famous as the site of glittering state banquets, official receptions, royal honeymoons (such as that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana) and relaxing family vacations, HMY Britannia was a haven for the Queen, who sailed onboard with her family.

A symbol of the British Commonwealth in foreign ports, Britannia was unquestionably a floating ambassador in her own right.

After conveying Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, and the Prince of Wales back from Hong Kong after the Handover to the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997, Britannia remained in Britain until being decommissioned on Dec. 22, 1997. She had logged more than one million miles over her lifetime.

As sad as the decommissioning was for the Queen (and all those who coveted invitations to onboard events), the ship has since become one of Edinburgh’s top tourist attractions.

I confess to feeling slightly embarrassed at sticking my nose into the Queen’s dainty, but unassuming, single bed cabin liberally decorated with family pictures when I toured Britannia.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s more austere accommodation definitely smacks of a no-nonsense naval officer.

One could imagine comfortably parking in the bright chintz sitting room with a good book waiting for tea and the ship’s famous baking. Scones seemed to be the most popular, but it was rich Scottish Dundee Cake and tea at £5.30 for me.

The state dining room onboard is dignified and impressive. Although large, the warm wood and accoutrements makes it feel more like a very upscale wardroom. I’ll have a gin and tonic, please. In my dreams!

On a sunny day, the onboard Royal Deck Tea Room is a good place to taste what the royal kitchen produces, before heading down to inspect the engine room and smile at the very practical laundry facilities and functional crew quarters. Resist stopping at the fudge shop before disembarking, if you can.

The new ‘boatique’ opening around Easter this year is in very good company. When you’re in the neighbourhood, be sure to add these dockside sites on your historic Edinburgh itinerary.

For more information, visit www.fingal.co.uk, www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk and www.visitbritain.com.

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a dedicated traveller and the retired publisher of the Cloverdale Reporter



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

One could imagine comfortably parking in the bright chintz sitting room with a good book waiting for tea and the ship’s famous baking. (Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)

Just Posted

Newton bingo hall to close after April 21

Gateway Casinos ‘working to transition its employees from the Newton facility to other Gateway properties in the region’

‘Significant waitlists’ for early French Immersion programs in Surrey

District struggling to find specialist teachers for French Immersion, Fine Arts and Montessori programs

Surrey MP apologizes for inviting criminal to Trudeau reception

Posing for photos with controversial people has been a bane for politicians

White Rock ‘demoviction’ complaint heard at RTB

Decision expected to be made next week

‘Anti-gym’ for baby boomers opens in Surrey today

Expanding Surrey-born company is brainchild of city’s 2017 Business Person of the Year, Sara Hodson

B.C. Games open with Olympic touch

The 2018 B.C. Winter Games kicked off in Kamloops

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

More snow expected on the Coquihalla, Highway 3

Environment Canada says five to 10 centimetres will come down between Friday and Saturday mornings

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

Lane closures on Alex Fraser, Port Mann bridges considered to avoid ‘ice bombs’

Province spent $5 million clearing both bridges last years

UPDATE: Northern Health dealing with lack of 121 registered nurses

Auditor General says officials need to improve internal management, track effect of new policies

Most Read