In a city with accommodation as diverse as Edinburgh’s, you wouldn’t expect the high-end of the market to be one-dimensional, surely?
Ask the locals about expensive and luxury hotels in Edinburgh and almost everyone will mention the names Balmoral and Caledonian Hilton…and rightly so.
These Princes Street hotels hold as important a position in the foundations of Edinburgh’s reputation as the Castle itself.
When it comes to 4 and 5 star hotels in Edinburgh, it’s like watching a film starring George Clooney and Leonardo Di Caprio.
You have the older, wiser virtuoso admirably challenged by the slick, versatile upstart….and they both look damn fine.
The established Princes Street hotels and esteemed hotels such as The Witchery by the Castle, the George Hotel on George Street and the extremely popular Edinburgh Residence have been tested in recent years by up-and-coming, modern hotels such as the Glasshouse, Le Monde and Hotel Missoni, which have been wowing guests with their contemporary flair, lavish decor and exceptional service.
I’ll be completely honest with you. When it comes to 4 and 5 star hotel accommodation, Edinburgh is the most expensive city in the country. Throughout the 3 weeks of the Edinburgh Festival in August, on big rugby weekends and over New Year, around 90% of rooms are snapped up at ridiculously high prices.
As soon as the New Year hangovers have passed, more and more rooms become available at often highly discounted rates. At that time of the year you can definitely secure yourself a good deal, especially if you book way in advance.
It is always a very good idea to check the hotel’s website for deals before anywhere else as they often offer exclusive deals online.
The older, the wiser…
The Balmoral hotel, with its iconic clock tower, is as much a tourist attraction as it is a hotel and has attracted stars from Jennifer Lopez to J.K. Rowling. The Michelin-starred restaurant, stylish Brasserie and esteemed spa are as impressive as the castle views from the bedrooms. When someone mentions Princes Street hotels, the Balmoral is the first one that springs to mind.
The Caledonian Hilton hotel, at Princes Street (West End), was once an Edwardian railway hotel and has a dark towering facade that draws the eye upwards. In the past few years 89 rooms have been refurbished and the hotel’s leisure facilities are to be upgraded this summer. Counting Sean Connery amongst its highly-satisfied customers, the Caledonian Hilton at the West End of Princes Street is the West End.
Ever counted sheep in a 16th century suite? My guess is no. I certainly haven’t. This is one of many reasons why the Witchery by the Castle is so special. Take your own kitchen, awesome antiques, lashings of leather, ceremoniously Gothic design, dim the lights and you have your own rather mythical lodgings at the Witchery. Oh, and the Castle is next door by the way…
Whether you call it quirky or simply unique, the Edinburgh Residence is without doubt one of the most popular and idiosyncratic hotels in Edinburgh. They have a self-service ‘honesty bar’ for Pete’s sake! A concept that really shouldn’t work in Scotland. If you like the idea of sleeping on a fold-down bookcase and being served your meals in your suite rather than in a restaurant, you’ve found your hotel.
The list goes on and on. The Prestonfield hotel, with its main building dating back to 1687 and highland cattle meandering around in the garden is outstanding.
Admirable Edinburgh veteran The George Hotel, was given a £20 million face-lift in 2009 ensuring this 130 year old hotel has a slick contemporary glow.
It’s not every day you have a butler running around after you, unless you’re lucky enough to live at the Howard hotel. A honeymoon suite at this hotel, complete with free-standing bath, would guarantee endless romance. A stay at the Howard hotel is like stepping back to Georgian times.
Glass, glitter and modern art…
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. No really, don’t throw stones. The floor to ceiling windows at the Glasshouse hotel are only there to admire the view of Calton Hill. Add a roof terrace and slick contemporary design and you have a hotel that’s been bowling over customers since 2003. With the Playhouse theatre and a cinema and bar complex next door and the city centre just around the corner, the hotel’s location ain’t bad either.
Ask the locals about ‘Le Monde’ and some of them will say, ‘it that Italian?’ but most of them will tell you about a trendy, themed bar and restaurant on George Street. Not too many people know that the building also houses elaborate suites inspired by living quarters such as New York apartment lofts and Russian palaces. Couple that with a cosmopolitan-themed bar (not the magazine) and restaurant to rival Epcot and you have an uncompromising ode to the world.
Then came the Italians. Fashion house Missoni have set about adding ‘hospitality gurus’ to their list of achievements. The first Missoni hotel was opened in Edinburgh in 2009 and has gathered quite a following due to its exceptional levels of service and sublime Cucina restaurant.
It seems Missoni’s bold approach to design translates well to the hotel industry. Hotel Missoni incorporates everything at which the Italians excel – image, style and cuisine. La dolce vita through and through.
As their management so modestly put it on their website, Tigerlily already has, ‘a cabinet full of awards’. Since this über-chic boutique style hotel opened in 2006, it has become one of Edinburgh’s most beloved.
All 33 rooms in this old town house are hand-crafted, so-to-speak, and topped-off with a handbag full of creature comforts. Get this – if you happen to forget your iPod, they have pre-loaded ones awaiting your arrival. My oh my.
Shall I stop? No? Ok, we also have, of course, all the most popular outstanding 4 and 5 star hotel chains in Edinburgh. Apex have four different hotels in Edinburgh, the Apex City Hotel, the Apex Edinburgh European, the Apex International and the Apex Waterloo place. The Sheraton Grand hotel on Lothian Road is one of Edinburgh’s largest, if lacking a little in individuality. The Radisson Edinburgh and Marriott Edinburgh are also ever-presents offering exceptional service and comfort.