“Dundee’s setting is probably more extraordinary than any other city in the U.K. It is about as ideal—ludicrously ideal—as any setting could be.” So said comedian and actor Stephen Fry, who once spent six years as a university rector in the Scottish port city. Perched on the flanks of an extinct volcano beside the broad, silvery waters of the Firth of Tay, Dundee has been quietly reinventing itself since its industrial heyday as the center of the global jute industry. Former textile mills now host young entrepreneurs and design collectives, while the historic waterfront is being transformed to the tune of US$1.3 billion. Recent additions here include Slessor Gardens and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, V&A
Dundee ( vandadundee.org), whose angular shape and louvered facade were inspired by the cliffs of Scotland’s northeast coast. Opening on September 15, it will be the first U.K. design museum outside of London.
Getting There Dundee is roughly 90 minutes by train from both Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are served by regular flights from London aboard British Airways ( britishairways.com).
Where to Stay Just 100 meters from the riverfront, Malmaison Dundee ( 44-1382/339-715; malmaison.com; doubles from US$92) has 91 rooms and suites—along with a chic brasserie— inside a refurbished heritage building.
What Else? For an insight into the darker side of local history, join the hourlong walking tours with Dark Dundee ( ddtours.co.uk), which cover topics ranging from Viking raids and body snatching to local legends and crimes of passion.
The cliff-inspired V&A Dundee juts out into the Firth of Tay from reclaimed land.