Urban Quarters Review
My recent visit to Dundee was my fifth trip to the city in the last couple of years and as I had already covered most of the Dundee attractions on previous visits, I was looking forward to exploring the city like a local rather than a tourist. Thanks to an invite to experience the centrally located Urban Quarters apartments, I even had my own luxury Dundee pad for the weekend and you can't get much more local than that!
Since it was also my wedding anniversary that week it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate with Mr Adventures Around Scotland as Dundee is one of our favourite places.
Urban Quarters is made up of 4 individual apartments, each named after a famous Dundonian. We were allocated the two bedroom Patrick Geddes apartment on the top floor.
From walking in, we felt immediately at home. The designer apartment is fitted out to a high standard with lots of creative and quirky touches which I just loved. It is definitely the first (and will probably be the only) accommodation I have stayed at with a popcorn maker, 3D glasses and a record player (complete with an eclectic mix of albums). If you were watching my Instagram story you might recall me playing some Scottish tunes from the legendary jimmy Shand as our Friday night entertainment. I really know how to party!
If you would rather chill out than dance the night away to some cheesy tunes then a yoga mat and book of mindfulness is provided to help you relax. Personally, I was really impressed by the unique touches which all helped us to feel at home, in fact it felt better than my home as I don't have a popcorn maker or a Jimmy Shand album.
Urban Quarters is situated in Dundee's 'Cultural Quarter' with shops, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions all within a short walk and quite a few of my favourite places in the city are almost on the doorstep. I've included several of my recommendations about things to do locally at the bottom of this blog.
The Patrick Geddes apartment has two bedrooms and although there was only two of us, there would be plenty of space for four. The beds were super comfy and in keeping with the rest of the apartment, the bedding was of high quality and as I felt like I was wrapped in a white fluffy cloud there was no chance of me not getting a good nights sleep.
However, just to make sure that you do enjoy a peaceful night there is a very thoughtful sleep pack for each guest with chamomile tea, ear plugs and an eye mask. Although I didn't need it, I can't tell you the amount of times that a pack like this would have come in handy in other accommodation I've stayed at!
As for the bathroom...
Giant walk in shower - Check
Lovely Scottish products - Check
Fluffy white towels - Check
A comical squeegee - Check
That's pretty much covered the essentials, other than to say it was clean, warm and spacious.
Apart from the location and standard of our apartment (and maybe the popcorn maker), one of the best thing about staying at Urban Quarters in my opinion is the VIP card which gives you some fantastic discounts during your stay. I don't know how they have managed it, but the owners have negotiated some pretty attractive savings with local businesses. At the time we stayed the VIP card could be used for discounts at the following local cafes and restaurants -
The Beer Kitchen (20%), Avery & Co (10%), The West House (25%), Gallery 48 (25%), Tinsmiths (25%) and D'arcy Thompsons (25%).
I had already eaten at a few of these places and can recommend them all. Tinsmiths has a student vibe and great burgers which are already good value, D'arcy Thompson features lots of local produce and Avery & Co is my favourite casual eatery in Dundee.
This visit we decided to try out the Beer Kitchen which is literally a minute walk from the apartment. Being an Innis & Gunn establishment means you are already guaranteed great beer (I love their Rum Finish) but we were also impressed by the food. We found it to be another fantastic laid back venue in Dundee with a reasonably priced menu. The short walk and additional discount makes this a great casual dinner choice when you're staying at the apartments. I should add that our discount was only taken off the food so bear that in mind when you're budgeting, although we found it was still a substantial saving.
I had also heard good things about The West House and we decided to spoil ourselves with breakfast out on the Saturday morning. The menu looked good, the prices were reasonable and it seemed a popular place. However, the service when we visited was shambolic and after being ignored for 20 minutes and orders taken from customers that had arrived after us, we decided to leave. Instead, we headed back to Avery & Co, which is practically on the doorstep of Urban Quarters. Quick service, mouthwatering food and the additional discount rescued what had been an underwhelming start to the day. I love this place so much we went back for breakfast on the Sunday morning too, well it was our anniversary weekend after all!
Of course the beauty of a self-catering apartment is that you can save money by cooking for yourself and Urban Quarters had everything we would have needed if that's what we wanted to do. However, it was our anniversary weekend so we decide to spoil ourselves by eating out and I wanted to take advantage of the generous VIP card to research some new restaurants. Other than using the coffee maker and enjoying the complimentary Caramel Wafers, we barely used the well equipped kitchen on this occasion.
If you fancy pampering yourself the VIP card also gets you discounts at Blu Hair & Beauty (10%) and The Sunflower Rooms (20%).
It also gets you 25% off Dark Dundee walking tours and having recently been on one of these myself I can highly recommend it. In fact I would say that it is a must do in the city!
Some of the other places within a short walk that I recommend include -
The Phoenix Bar - a proper pub with craft beer and friendly locals
Dundee Contemporary Arts - for art exhibitions, cinema, cafe and great little gift shop
Dundee Rep Theatre - catch the latest show
The Palais - vintage tearoom with some yummy cakes
Groucho's - an Aladdin's cave of records, CDs and DVDs
Clark's Bakery - the best place to pick up some Dundee cake
Scott Brothers Butchers - I had been told this was the best place to pick up a local Dundee peh (pie). We bought a couple for our lunch on the Saturday and can confirm that they were super tasty.
Attractions in the Dundee that I think you shouldn't miss include -
The McManus Art Gallery & Museum
The Verdant Works
Dark Dundee Walking Tour (even better value with the VIP card!)
Other attractions of interest in Dundee include -
Dundee Science Centre
HM Frigate Unicorn
Dundee Museum of Transport
St Paul's Cathedral
For something different to do -
Hire a bike from EBS Cycle Centre which is less than a 10 minute walk from Urban Quarters and follow the cycle path along the waterfront to Broughty Ferry. We hired a tandem and it was great fun.
Any downsides about Urban Quarters?
I can honestly say that we found no downsides to Urban Quarters. The apartment we stayed in was well equipped and fitted to a high standard. We had everything we needed to feel at home with lots of fun extra touches that made our weekend memorable for all the right reasons. I would highly recommend Urban Quarters if you like a bit of independence when you travel and to get a taste of life as a local. I really think the VIP card is a big selling point as we saved quite a bit of money and it encouraged us to try some new places wich we might not have visited otherwise.
If there is one downside it would not be about the apartments themselves but rather the cost of parking locally. Dundee is a very walkable city and you don't really need a car to get around, especially as Urban Quarters is so centrally located. However, if you do take a vehicle, be aware that on street parking outside the apartments is quite expensive, with restricted hours. However, there is a 24 hour car park just across the road but again the cost of parking can add up if you are there any length of time so factor this into your budget.
Dundee is a really up and coming Scottish city with lots to offer and if you need a few more ideas then here are 10 of my reasons why you should discover Dundee and a few other foodie recommendations if you want to get a Taste of Dundee.
Visit Urban Quarters website to find out more or to book your own stay in sunny Dundee.
Disclaimer - I was invited to experience Urban Quarters, however as always all views are my own. All other food and activities mentioned in this blog were paid for by yours truly and featured because I personally recommend them.
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