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

B.C. serves up $6.3 million boost to province’s respite program

The announcement, in Surrey, aims to give parents of special needs children a break

Schedule released for South Surrey-hosted Americas Olympic Softball Qualifier

Canadian national women’s fastpitch team to open tournament against Cuba

Biting and jumping are paw-sitives when raising a police dog puppy

18-week-old Maya is training with Delta police to one day take a bite out of crime

Surrey peewee lacrosse team brings home first-ever provincial medal

Team overcame short bench, inexperience and age difference to bring home bronze

Hundial the latest councillor to split from McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition

Councillor says the mayor dissolving the public safety committee was the ‘final straw’ for him

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

RCMP use helicopter and police dog to search for suspect on Sts’ailes First Nation

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

North Delta happenings: week of July 18

Events and community listings for North Delta

Missing Vancouver Island woman believed to be on mainland

Rhonda Stevenson, 43, last seen July 13 in central Nanaimo

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Missing Greater Victoria man last seen in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Jonah Donato, 40, travelled to the mainland in June

Most Read