I've been sharing my love of Dundee for years, long before it became all cool and started gracing the pages of glossy magazines which makes me feel like a bit of a Scottish travel trendsetter. I've visited the city quite a few times since i started blogging and don't need much of an excuse to pack my bags and jump on the train back to Scotland's sunniest city. When Apex City Quay Hotel got in touch to invite me along to their V&A Dundee event, with an opportunity to take an exclusive walk around the exterior of the new £80m museum of design, I promptly donned my shades and headed east.
On arriving at Dundee I was totally disorientated as the train station has undergone a face-lift along with the rest of the waterfront and the entrance and exit had been moved since I had last visited. However, despite the confusing major transformations confronting me, I was glad to see that the 'Sunny Dundee' weather was unchanged.
After an easy 10 minute stroll I arrived at the Apex City Quay which is situated next to the former Victoria Quay. This area has been redeveloped in to a retail and leisure complex, with the 200 year old HMS Unicorn taking centre stage.
This was my first visit to Apex in Dundee and I was immediately impressed with the efficient and friendly check-in. I was lucky enough to have a corner room which had double the light and panoramic views over the quay and surrounding historic buildings. I definitely recommend going for this choice if it's available.
My bedroom was spacious and had everything I needed for a comfortable stay with a few fun extras including one of the famous Apex rubber ducks, chocolate duck shaped lollies and a relaxing pillow mist just to make sure I got a good night's sleep, although my bed was so comfy a deep slumber was pretty much guaranteed.
The en-suite had both a bath and walk-in shower which is always a nice dilemma to have, although I was pretty busy during my trip so didn't have time for a relaxing soak in the tub with my new duck friend. If I was staying more than 1 night it would definitely have been at the top of my 'time out' list!
Another treat that I unfortunately didn't have a chance to indulge in during this visit was the hotel spa. Hotel guests have complimentary access to the Japanese themed Yu Spa which offers a herbal-infused steam room, sunken hot tubs, sauna, pool and gym. Spa treatments are also available at an extra charge. I personally think that having the use of the spa is one of the bonuses of choosing Apex for your stay in Dundee and let's be honest, who doesn't love to chill out after a day of exploring?
Although I didn't have time for pampering on this trip, I was excited to spend my time getting up close to a building that is already up there as one of Scotland's iconic pieces of architecture before it has even opened to the public. Designed by renowned architect Keno Kuma, I felt privileged to be part of the first group to get access to previously restricted areas of the exterior of the V&A Dundee. The shapes and lines give the structure a boat like appearance and the backdrop of the Tay just adds to the feeling that it is ready to set sail. It is such a photogenic building which is not something that is said about concrete constructions very often!
It is quite apt that Dundee was chosen as the location for Scotland's first museum of design as it is the UK's first UNESCO City of Design.
After our tour we returned to the hotel for some nibbles and aptly named 'Victoria' and 'Albert' cocktails made from Dundee's own Verdant Gin. I was a bit reluctant to give them a try as I'm not a gin fan but I'm glad I did as they were delicious, maybe I'll have to be more open-minded about sampling gin in the future.
It was also a nice chance to catch up with some fellow content creators and hear about the changes in Dundee from local experts.
Apex Hotels had also put together some amazing goodie bags full of Dundee related gifts - aka best goodie bag ever! I must give a mention to local designer and illustrator Louise Kirby, who had included one of her Dundee Cake tea-towels and a selection of her cards. Thanks to her I've now got some lovely mementos of Dundee in my new home in Orkney. Do check out her Etsy Shop for original Dundee themed gifts.
Worn out by exploring, sunshine and gin, I had a great sleep and was appreciative of the 12 0'clock check out the next day so I could snooze a bit longer. The breakfast choices at the Apex are very generous with continental and cooked buffets available and further menu options which are all included in the price. I was happy with a trip to the buffet but it was good to see so many dishes available.
Fuelled up and my energy replenished I decided to store my bags at reception and go on a bit of a wander around the city until it was time for my train home. Dundee has a nice compact city centre which means it is very walkable. I stopped by the brilliant McManus Museum which is currently renamed The McMenace thanks to the Bash Street Kids exhibition, had lunch at Avery & Co before finishing my afternoon off at the quirky D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum.
Every time I visit Dundee, I discover something new and with the V&A due to open in September, I'm sure it won't be long until I'm back exploring my second favourite Scottish city - as a Glaswegian I'm afraid no city will beat the place I grew up so being my second favourite Scottish city is actually quite an accolade!
SOME OF MY RECOMMENDED THINGS TO DO WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF THE APEX
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Looking for more ideas? Check out my 10 reasons to discover Dundee
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