Two drams of whisky waiting in our room on arrival? Don’t mind if I do. This landmark building just off the Royal Mile, formerly the home of the Scotsman newspaper, manages to retain its architectural glory while sparkling from a recent refurbishment of many of the 59 rooms and 14 suites. Who doesn’t want to sleep in a room with a turret!
Street cred: It’s all about location
The Scotsman is walking distance from so many things, there is hardly any need for a taxi: The Royal Mile is a one-minute walk away; the Waverley Railway Station, two. This is the station you need to catch a train to Glasgow and there’s one practically every half-hour. The Scottish National Gallery and Edinburgh Castle are both a 10-minute walk away. Holyrood Palace at the end of the Mile is a 15-minute walk. And from your room, you can enjoy views of Edinburgh Castle, The Mound, Carlton Hill (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Princes Street Gardens.
Who hangs here: Is this hotel for you?
This is an upscale crowd for sure, but not stuffy in the least. There’s a big contingent of business-bleisure traditionalists and plenty of tourists who will book just for the high heritage factor, particularly now that the turn-of-the-century charm has been spruced up to more luxe levels with certain room categories.
The straight goods: What’s in the room?
Because this was an office building for most of its life, no two hotel rooms are the same, spread over nine floors in two buildings. Expect acres of wood wall paneling, vaulted ceilings and big marble bathrooms. Reporter rooms, Director rooms and Feature suites have been refurbished with a contemporary traditional style, sporting neutral tones of grey, silver, light blue and oatmeal. Older rooms still deliver cozy Scottish comfort, with lots of light and yards of tartan.
Bragging rights: What else has it got?
Did we mention the turrets? Enjoy these by booking the corner rooms. The elegant marble staircase is worth the price of admission, stained glass windows and all.
Good eats: Cocktails and cuisine
Set within the Scotsman’s former advertising and notices department, The Grand Café has kept all its period features, which date back to 1905. It seats 150 people at full tilt, doing breakfasts, brunches and lunches through to afternoon tea and dinner, from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Versatile menus were created by Dundee-born MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Chris Niven.
A few of our favorite things: What stood out?
Afternoon tea is a glorious experience, particularly if you amp it up with Champagne.
Parting shot: If we could change one thing
Bring them back! Sadly, the gym, pool and spa that were once part of the facilities are no longer available since a change in ownership.
Standard rooms from £175 (US$228). Breakfast is not included; a full Scottish breakfast is £15 (US$20).
Doug was a guest of the hotel during his stay. The hotel had no editorial input for this review.
(Photos courtesy of The Scotsman Hotel/Daniel McAvoy Photography)