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

Spreading Christmas cheer around Aldergrove

Easing the pains and difficulties of hard times is ‘reason for the season’

120 turn up for Aldergrove blood clinic

More volunteer help welcomed by Canadian Blood Services

VIDEO: Langley Olympians host intra club meet

Some swimmers hope to set new club records

Dear Santa

Here’s a selection of letters to Santa from Langley children. Watch for more in during the holidays.

Candy Cane Run rolls through Murrayville in Langley

Annual food bank fundraiser by firefighters

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

Hundreds attend Hells Angels funeral in Maple Ridge

Body of Chad John Wilson found last month face-down under the Golden Ears Bridge.

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Gas prices to climb 11 cents overnight in Lower Mainland

Hike of 17 cents in less than 48 hours due to unexpected shutdown of Washington state pipeline

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

Most Read