Photo of
June 10, 2014

Malmaison Leith is a sophisticated boutique hotel based on the banks of the stylish Leith dock.

However, the building wasn’t always such a high class establishment.

Built in 1883, it was originally used as a seamann’s mission – a place, in the words of Malmison General Manager Stewart Campbell, which was “A house of ill repute.”

The Malmaison building when it was a seaman’s mission.

(photo courtesy of

A seaman’s mission

“Leith was a working dock and the sailors coming off ships needed somewhere to stay, somewhere to drink and perhaps be entertained,” he said.

The Malmaison and Hotel du Vin Group often hunt out buildings with less salubrious histories to host their hotels.

Previously on the 5pm blog, we told you the story of Edinburgh Old Town’s Hotel du Vin, which is housed in a former lunatic asylum.

Watch Stewart talk about Malmaison Leith’s history in the video below.

When Malmaison purchased their Leith site in 1994 it was the Angel Hotel which, while perhaps not as debauched as the seaman’s mission, still wasn’t the most prestigious venue in town.

“Some taxi drivers will tell you stories about how they wouldn’t even drop people off in this area,” Stewart said. “So Malmaison took a bit of a gamble opening in Leith at the time but it really has paid off. I think it was probably step one in the regeneration of the area.”

Malmaison Leith today

Boutique Hotel

Malmaison Leith was the very first hotel from the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin group, which now owns 28 hotels across the UK.

Their sleek fashionable boutique hotel style was revolutionary at the time, spawning an array of imitators.

Watch Malmaison’s chef whip up a delicious pan fried hake in the video below.

Their French inspired brasserie in the hotel, decorated in a Parisian bistro feel, serves British classic dishes.

Malmaison Leith has become famous for its epic Sunday brunches, which includes unlimited breakfast, a main course and dessert, accompanied by an extensive Bloody Mary menu.

Malmaison brasserie

Twenty years on, the hotel continues to build on their reputation.

“Malmaison were very much ahead of the time. When we opened 20 years ago it was like nothing else that was ever around in any hotel.

“I think a lot of hotel companies now are mimicking Malmaison; there are some great competitors now. But Malmaison is evolving as well and we’re constantly rebranding and keeping up to date.”

20% a la carte discount at Malmaison Brasserie when booked on 5pm Dining.