By Carol Wallace, Special to Tribune Newspapers

It’s in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic district, where hotels, pubs, restaurants and souvenir shops line the cobblestone Royal Mile. Yet, step into the modern color-splashed world of the Hotel Missoni, and there’s neither traditional tartan nor sugar-topped shortbread in sight.

Like its stylish designs, Missoni is bold in its decision to open its first hotel in Edinburgh. “Even though it’s not one of the big capitals in Europe, it’s quite a special city, historic and cultural,” said Rosita Missoni, head of the Italian fashion company’s Missoni Home division, who was in charge of the hotel’s design. “We were starting something new and wanted to see if we were ready for this new venture.” Translation: For now, it was better to be out of the media glare in cities such as Rome, New York or Paris.

The 136-room Missoni, which opened last June, is part of a trend for A-list fashion designers to enter the hotel trade. Armani Hotel Dubai opened in April, and last year the people at Moschino launched Maison Moschino in Milan. The Missonis plan to open hotels in Kuwait, Oman and Brazil by 2012.

The family was approached by Rezidor, a Brussels-based hotel group looking to team with a big-name design company. “I thought it would be a fantastic showcase for the home collection,” Missoni said. “And we are considered very good hosts. For me, Missoni is our lifestyle.”

Indeed, the Missoni is less a room for the night than it is a tantalizing taste of la dolce vita. From the minute you pass by the humongous mosaic urns and are greeted by porters in black leather Missoni sneakers and tailored Italian suits, you know you are in designer heaven.

The rooms, which start at about $206, are done in bright colors (big floral fabrics and fuchsia walls, anybody?) and filled with glossy cabinetry, modern Italian furniture and all products Missoni, right down to the washcloths. Each room boasts its own espresso machine.

Can’t get to Italy? Edinburgh will have to do.