Dundee: The coolest small city in the UK

Andy McGonigle made the move from the central belt to Dundee a little over a year ago and hasn't looked back since. He lives and works within the vibrant redeveloped waterfront area but is always found in the city centre sampling some of our finest Dundee restaurants at the weekend. As a true foodie and a big fan of all things design, Andy has found something new round every corner of this great city. Having read a recent GQ Article on Dundee being the coolest small city in the country, he set out to prove it once and for all! 


As I packed my bags to head north to Dundee, I, like many Glaswegians didn't really have an opinion on Dundee. My knowledge of this area failed to extend beyond the fact that the Dundonian accent is shall we say.. distinct. Upon arrival I was amazed at just how much is crammed into this small city footprint! As a self confessed lover of food I couldn't wait to get my teeth stuck into some of eateries in town. When I was asked to stay at the fantastic Urban Quarters, my first thought was about how many of my favourite restaurants were within a stones throw of the front door!

Of course, Dundee isn't all about food, from the Rep Theatre to the almost complete V&A Design Museum, there is just SO much for any lover of culture and art. The city is also proud host to the highly esteemed Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, meaning the city is awash with creatives and there is interesting people to meet at every turn. The city is proud of its art and design heritage and interesting pieces can be seen dotted around the city centre. 

Upon arrival to Urban Quarters, we were simply amazed at all of the small things that they had thought of, from naming each apartment after a famous Dundonian to making sure there was milk in the fridge for a brew on this typically Scottish spring day! The best places always take care of the finer details and its these touches that make a stay truly memorable. 

After taking a look round our fantastic home for the weekend, there was only one thing for it, cracking open the bubbly. The kitchen was spotless and had everything you could ever need, even a popcorn machine! We instantly fell in love with the apartment and the words "can we just move in" were uttered several times in short succession. 

After a glass (or 3) it was time to head out for the night. We had managed to nab a table at a fantastic Lebanese restaurant in town called Tahini. Its a set tapas menu which works out to be fantastic value for money. The waitress simply checks if anyone has any allergies before a succession of amazing Lebanese dishes start flowing from the kitchen. We kicked off with some fresh bread and a huge array of different dips and condiments, before moving on to such delights as lamb kofta, meatballs and fried cheese. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! 

its a real hidden gem and one that we always make a point of visiting when we have guests staying, the tapas and sharing format is brilliant for creating a relaxed and informal atmosphere and the staff can't do enough to make sure you enjoy the whole experience.

We ate so much we contemplated getting a taxi back round the corner (literally). An early night in one of the comfiest beds I've ever slept in set us up nicely for the morning. The amazing main bathroom has a shower you'll never want to leave.

Again, its all in the details! The embroidered towels and thoughtful sleep kit with eye mask simply made our stay that bit more "complete". 

Naturally, any time I have family visit I end up wheeling them around on a whistle-stop tour of my new hometown, why should today be any different?


No trip to Dundee is complete without a visit to the Discovery ship. Having ran around on it as a child almost 20 years ago, it was great to see it still taking pride of place as part of the new exciting waterfront area of Dundee. That takes us to the fantastic V&A Design Museum.

V&A Museum

Ok Ok.. it may not be open yet but look! it still looks fantastic even from the outside. A marvel of steel and glass, well worth catching whilst you are in the area. Who knows, it might even be open by then! After a quick history lesson about the Lord Provost statue we jumped into Dundee institution Henry's Coffee House for a well deserved rest before the magical mystery tour continued..


As the rain set in we made for Mexican eaterie Rancho Pancho to conclude our day. From the outside looking in, it's easy to believe the Dundee stereotypes, only by getting in and amongst this great city and its great people do you begin to understand what draws everyone here and also what makes people want to stay. It might be the friendly nature of the people, or "Fast Eddie's" amazing mouth organ skills often heard on the high st, but there is something truly endearing about Dundee during this transition into a new forefront of art and design. Urban Quarters is at the front of this change, it is way above other self catered apartments in Dundee and we would strongly recommend them to everyone (worth it for the popcorn machine alone). I'll sign off with my favourite photo from our stay...

It doesn't get much better than that, right?

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