A new era for Dundee
We have been thinking about Dundee a lot recently. The buzz around the city has been growing since being selected as home to Britain’s new V&A Museum of Design heralding another chapter in the city’s illustrious history. Work on this remarkable waterfront building started back in 2015 with the museum opening its doors in September 2018. Dundee has been hitting the headlines ever since with lots of accolades coming its way. Awarded UNESCO’s only UK City of Design for its contributions to a diverse range of industries including medical research, comics, computer technology and gaming. Dundee is also one of Lonely Planets top-10 European destination of 2018. The Wall Street Journal hailed Dundee as Scotland’s coolest city. It all adds momentum to a city that feels like it’s on the move.
The ambitious long-term development of the Waterside area of Dundee has brought some new hotels to cope with the expected increase in visitors. One of the most innovative is the recently opened £23m Hotel Indigo, site of the long-abandoned iconic Baxter Brothers Jute Mill on Constable Street. We were invited along for the night and couldn’t wait to explore.
Hotel Indigo Dundee
We spotted the Bell Tower and the Hotel Indigo flag, flying high above many of the other buildings in the city and started to appreciate the scale of the conversion. The jute mill was first built in 1822 by the Baxter Family who went on to become the world’s largest linen manufacturer and has sadly lain unused for the last 45 years. This magnificent historic building has been lovingly transformed into a luxury 102-bed hotel and 85 longer stay suites from Staybridge-suites (coming soon). We arrived by car, and the hotel has parking spaces inside the development, or there is a public pay and display car park situated just across the road. Taking the train is also a great option with regular services and scenic journeys from Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh.
We arrived early on a Friday evening, and welcome drinks were being served – perfect timing and a lovely touch! The building’s conversion and interior design incorporate elements of Dundee’s past, present and future. The main reception and lobby retains an industrial look with a network of metal pipes, exposed brick walls and concrete floor but with plenty of comfortable private spaces to relax and explore Dundee’s industrial and cultural history. We chilled out with a glass of wine and checked out all the memory boxes around the room filled with fascinating icons from Dundee’s past.
Elements of Dundee’s jam, jute and journalism history are celebrated with items of machinery, yarn and old editions of DC Thompson’s famous comics. These are presented in a very contemporary setting that also nods towards a future of tourism, culture, medical research, technology and gaming. The hotel is a massive vote of confidence in the city’s future.
The hotel has three different room designs, each embracing a different aspect of Dundee’s history. Their Dundee Cake rooms celebrate with marmalade motifs throughout the room, while the Beano is the inspiration for their comic book themed rooms. Dundee’s successful computer gaming industry that gave us Grand Theft Auto and Lara Croft inform their third room design including cheat-codes running through the borders around the ceiling. The conversion must have been a dream project for the room designers and the results show a lot of respect and love for the city
Our home for the evening was the fabulous Bell Tower Junior Suite on the first floor. The first thing that hits you on entry is the exposed brick barrel ceiling – quirky and stunning! Our room is tastefully decorated in minimalist greys and blacks with bold splashes of marmalade orange. The pendant lighting softens things up along with the jute curtains made in Dundee and bed throws inspired by the silvery Tay by textile designer Hilary Grant.
Our room also came with bottles of Scottish water, some Dundee chocolate and a bottle of Bon Accord’s Rhubarb juice. We have stayed with Hotel Indigo a number of times around the country and love the fact that they always incorporate elements of local design and produce giving each property a distinct personality and vibe.
Our room also came with a huge bathroom including a free-standing bathtub and large walk-in shower with Arran Aromatics After the Rain shower products. After a nice soak, we were ready for an early dinner before heading out to explore the city.
Our first stop was Hotel Indigo’s restaurant and bar – Daisy Tasker. It turns out that Daisy, whose photographs and memorabilia are dotted around the restaurant was a 14-year-old weaver and mill-worker in the Jute Mill. Daisy took on the role of social convener, arranging trips and days out for the mill girls. It seems she was quite a sociable character and would surely approve of this lively dining space where folks were catching up on their day’s exploits enjoying a drink and a bite to eat.
Daisy Tasker’s all-day menu offers precisely what you need at different times of the day and is sure to be a popular choice for both locals and visitors to the city. Breakfast and Elevenses start the day’s proceedings with bacon or sausage rolls, pastries and toast with Dundee marmalade. Lunch offers a choice of bar snacks and sandwiches while the bar menu has favourites like Caesar salad, haddock and chips, burgers and steaks for later in the day. The hotel also has a “From round here” menu that changes regularly and puts a “contemporary spin on traditional Scottish dishes, using ingredients from round here”. When we visited, this included dishes like Arbroath smokie chowder, stovies and Dundee sticky pudding.
Dinner at Daisy Tasker
Daisy Tasker has a very relaxed atmosphere and you can enjoy a quick cocktail with a sharing platter before heading out or just settle in for the evening with a locally sourced steak and a bottle of wine. We started off our feast with some soft malted bread served with whipped butter (£4) and a bowl of juicy olives with a herby garlic and thyme dressing (£3.50) – perfect for nibbling with our wine.
For mains, I had a Bacon and Cheese Burger (£14) served on a soft brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and onion and a hearty portion of bacon. A tangy blue cheese topped off the burger and the dish came with a side of fries and a pot of relish. Raymond had a Ceasar Salad (£9) with chicken breast (£5), potatoes and anchovies and parmesan. Both dishes were tasty and perfect for pre-Dundee wanders.
Hotel Indigo is the perfect spot for exploring Dundee’s waterfront and city centre. The city is compact and very walkable, especially on such a warm evening when the sun was still shining. We headed towards Discovery Quay where you can visit HMS Unicorn and HMS Discovery and then caught sight of the futuristic V&A building that seems to sit on the water like a ship waiting to set sail. The Slessor gardens are another great place to visit. They feature an impressive outdoor space where themed gardens celebrate different aspects of Dundee’s heritage. Unfortunately, Rita Ora had different plans for us. The gardens are also an outdoor event space and were closed in preparation for her concert the following evening. Hopefully, we will get to visit next time.
Instead, we headed into town to admire the imposing but colourful Caird Hall with its fountains and outdoor piazza. After our walking tour, we ended up sat outside at The Wine Press. We enjoyed a warm welcome and a couple of glasses of wine – highly recommended.
Scotland’s Coolest City
Home of the V&A Dundee
After a great night’s sleep on the very comfortable bed, we headed back to Daisy Tasker’s for our breakfast. The cold buffet table has a great selection including smoothies, cereals, cheeses, home baking, bread, preserves and fruit. Cooked breakfast is prepared in the kitchen and delivered to your table. Raymond had the home-made Tattie Scones with bacon, poached eggs and a drizzle of creamy hollandaise sauce – absolutely delicious. I just fancied cereal and a bacon roll which wasn’t on the menu but came without any fuss at all. Our neighbour was tucking into an Arbroath Smokie which smelled and looked amazing. On my list for next time!
How to book a stay at Hotel Indigo, Dundee?
This was the first time we have stayed overnight in Dundee and it certainly won’t be our last. Hotel Indigo is very central for exploring the city so we will definitely be back to explore further when the V&A opens in September. New restaurants and bars are popping up in the city and it’s going through an exciting transformation. If you are looking for a cool city break then be sure to think about Dundee and Hotel Indigo. We hope you love it as much as we did!
Hotel Indigo Dundee
Lower Dens Mill,
Tel: 0330 331 1750
Thank you to Hotel Indigo in Dundee for inviting us along to experience their new hotel and restaurant.
We also visited The Tayberry Restaurant in Broughty Ferry just three miles from Dundee City Centre.