Edinburgh Travel Guide
In two days time, Scotland will go to the polls to decide whether it wants to become an independent state or remain part of the United Kingdom. Politicians and business people are tussling over what would be better for the country.
In the meantime, Scotland’s most expensive hotel ever – the first to charge £1000 a night – has quietly closed its doors.
The Atholl, in the West End of the city, opened in 2012 after a £5m conversion project. And now, according to owner Alison Davies (and the Daily Mail), it’s closed for good. No more Hermes wallpaper, no more Albert Roux restaurant, no more “award-winning garden”. The hotel will be converted into apartments.
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As the site of a year-long Homecoming celebration, the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, Andy Murray hotel, and possible declaration of independence, Scotland is having a huge year in 2014. Good time for a new hotel to open up in the capital, Edinburgh.
The just-opened 138-room DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre is the first DoubleTree by Hilton in the city, joining 21 of the brand's properties in the United Kingdom. While the hotel at first looks to be a wee bit out from the main Old Town/Grassmarket/Princes Street drag, it's actually in a pretty handy location, a few minutes' walk from the castle, the bars and restaurants of Lothian Street, and the National Museum.
At first we wondered if we would soon be witness to a hotel whisky death match in Edinburgh, then we realized: it's Scotland, there's room for more than one whisky hotel.
The whisky, which is named Nira Caledonia, comes from Tullibardine, a single-malt distillery in the Perthshire region that has been in operation since 1949. It is an Aged Oak Single Malt with cereal and vanilla tones with a slight fruitiness, and the hotel's bar, Blackwood's, is the only place in Edinburgh where you can try it.
If that photo above tickles your fancy -- for both the Scotch collection and the be-kilted Scotsman -- you'll want to be adding Edinburgh's The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte property to your hotel bucket list.
The five-star landmark hotel, located on the city's main Princes Street, has just opened SCOTCH a new signature whisky bar located in its former drawing room space that features the largest collection of purely Scottish whiskies available to the general public in Edinburgh.
Murrayfield House, is a new nine-bedroom boutique extension of the Murrayfield Hotel in Edinburgh’s City Centre. It’s another property that seems to have quietly opened while we were setting our sights on the fancy Waldorf Astoria's Caledonian. Still, we dig the idea of a tiny Victorian property that you can buy completely out, if you want (wedding parties, take note!).
The hotel, owned by independent leisure company G1 Group, is located opposite the Scottish rugby field, Murrayfield Stadium, and is minutes away from Edinburgh Zoo and Haymarket Train Station.
Furniture and accessories have been brought in from around the world—vintage items from India, light fixtures from Holland, chairs from Paris, and antique photo frames grace the room. Guests also get daily complimentary presents like whisky nips and home-made macaroons. Oh, and the WiFi is free, too.
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In a first for the hotel chain and for Scotland, Tune Hotels opened up their first Scottish property last week welcoming thrifty travelers in the city to check out the umpteen castles, Edinburgh has to offer. It's a first for Scotland and a first in the new design for the hotel chain.
Last summer we told you of plans to bring the discount chain to Scotland, and now everything is official. The brand brings to the city, a la carte pricing for which they have become famous. Want towels? That's £1.50 extra. Room cleaning? £7 per day. Ability to watch some TV? £3 per day.
For those that can plan in advance, you'll see the cheapest rates. Room rates start at £25, but will skyrocket as the cheap rooms sell out. On a recent search in April, we found a double room without windows for £50 ($80) and a room with a view for £80 ($128). Once you start adding any normal hotel amenities, the price is comparable to local hotels.
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Just before the summer, we looked at the many things Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts has up its sleeve, with places as far and wide as Jerusalem, Panama, and Berlin welcoming this luxury brand of the Hilton group in the next few years.
This month however it’s time for Edinburgh, where the historic Caledonian hotel reopened its doors after a £24 million ($39 million) overhaul, and officially became The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
With over a hundred years of history, the restoration seeks to bring back the origins of The Caledonian as a luxury railway hotel. Marble flooring, a sweeping staircase, and the vast chandelier you can see in the picture above dominate the reception and lobby. In a nod to its famous New York sibling, the Peacock Alley is the central meeting place of the hotel and the spot to have a drink or meet for afternoon tea.
She's a grand old dame, and she's still full of swagger.
We've known for a while that Starwood has been spending a ton of money upgrading all of the properties under its most iconic brand, Sheraton. $6 billion, to be exact. Now, with the centerpiece of that renovation project completed, we're starting to get a sense of where the brand is heading.
Starwood is telling everyone to pay attention to the Sheraton Grand Edinburgh's new look, as it will become the "blueprint" for all future Sheraton hotels to come. In fact, Starwood Senior VP Michael Wale told Scotsman: "The Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh will definitely become the flagship for the brand and will act as a template for what the brand will look like."
Ooh, lucky Edinburgh!
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Room service is usually a solitary affair for us—either we don't know anyone in the city to go out to dinner with, or we're just feeling a bit low-key and prefer an in-room meal in front of the TV to going out and talking to people.
But the newly opened Hotel Indigo Edinburgh is the first place we've heard of to let guests have it both ways. In other words, you get the comfort of eating in your own room and the added bonus of a live comedian, who shows up with your meal and does a 10-minute stand-up act right in front of you. Yes, the potential for awkwardness is pretty high, but we'll let that go, for the sake of sheer novelty. The setup is by nature a little ridiculous, but since hotel rooms are often ripe subjects for joke-making, there's bound to be at least a few laughs in there.
The Hotel Indigo Edinburgh is set for an April 14 opening with just 60 rooms set inside an early 1800 historic building which has preserved many of the original features such as decorative interior staircases and a unique cupola.
The Indigo brand's room standards of free WiFi, hardwood floors and spa-style bathrooms are in place, as well as vibrant decor (we're liking the orange) but one thing does appear to be missing--the photography wallpaper. But perhaps it's just this room shown on the hotel's website.
Downstairs, guests can dine and drink at the Turquoise Thistle, the hotel's all-day dining restaurant and cocktail lounge which will serve "classic and modern Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist, using a predominance of locally sourced produce."
Best of all, the price is oh so very right here. We found a non-smoking room for an "Ace Opening Rate" of just £109 a night. That includes complimentary breakfast, VAT and a late check-out. Full payment is required at booking but never fear, regular room rates are the same amount as well.
It's what you've been waiting all year for--The 2010 HotelChatter Awards! We'll be bringing you the best and worst of the year all day today and part of tomorrow. Agree or disagree with our picks? Air your thoughts in comments below.
Our own JetSetCD made a special detour to Edinburgh on her UK travels at the start of 2010 specifically to spend the night at this hotel. Here's what she thought:
If there’s one place we’d love to have a blowout on New Year’s Eve, it’d be Edinburgh. Which is unfortunate, because it means we’re sorely tempted by the deal that the George Hotel has going for Hogmanay right now.
It’s auctioning off its massive Panorama suite – which comes with a roof terrace looking over Edinburgh Castle and across as far as Fife – for the 31st. And, even more winningly, it’s in aid of charity, too.