View of Edinburgh from The Scotsman // © 2015 The Scotsman Hotel
Feature image (above): The George Hotel // © 2015 The George Hotel
The capital of Denmark
has plenty to offer, too, from castle-like manor houses to a hotel in an 18th century dockside warehouse.
History and mystery blend together in foggy Edinburgh, and the city’s modern amusements, legendary theater and cutting-edge cuisine draw throngs of experiential travelers. Savvy visitors reap the benefits of the compact sightseeing extravaganza the city provides by staying around the cobblestoned Royal Mile.
Many landmarks are nearby, and the historic street is bookended by Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Following are five hotels to consider, each within walking distance of favorite Edinburgh haunts.
The Balmoral Hotel
Spot celebrities and sip fine whiskey at this Princess Street hotel, all while enjoying majestic views of the Royal Mile skyline, Edinburgh Castle, Sir Walter Scott Monument and Arthur’s Seat. Number One, the on-site Michelin-starred restaurant, combines Scottish and French cuisine, and original artwork from the Royal College of Art hangs on the walls. Understated yet polished rooms reflect the natural colors of Scotland’s moors and mists.
There’s also a state-of-the-art spa, where guests can choose from a full menu of treatments, including a massage that incorporates hot Scottish oats. Nightly rates begin at around $280.
The George Hotel
Situated on elegant George Street, this stylish hotel is close to enticing restaurants and shops, including luxury department store Harvey Nichols. Guests can opt to dine on-site at Tempus Restaurant and Bar, where dishes incorporate locally sourced ingredients and rigorous training and research have yielded theatrical cocktails with names such as “Corpse Reviver #2” and “Flip/Daisy/Fizz.”
Free Wi-Fi access, 24-hour room service and an attentive staff are additional perks. Rooms begin at $135, and the hotel offers excellent deals throughout the year — book early to take advantage.
Kildonan Lodge Hotel
A 15-minute stroll from the heart of Edinburgh, Kildonan Lodge Hotel is a cozy manor that dates back to 1874. While staying in the restored Victorian home, guests can relax by an open fire in the lounge or enjoy a nip of Scottish whiskey at Honesty Bar. The Garden Lodge, situated behind the main house, might be the best room choice, with garden views and spacious modern bathrooms juxtaposed by period furnishings and complimentary sherry.
Stays here are always romantic and tranquil — even more so when rain patters down on the roof. Rooms start at around $175.
The Scotsman Hotel
Built in 1905, The Scotsman is defined by old-world charm and new-world sophistication. A doorman and grand Italian staircase greet guests, ushering them into Scotland’s past the moment they arrive. The hotel also boasts views of notable local landmarks, plus five-star dining and a luxurious spa with chic decor and treatments with Aveda products.
Each of the 69 rooms is decorated differently. One quirky entertainment option is the private screening room available for rent. Rooms start at approximately $350.
The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa
Don’t let the simple exterior fool you. Beyond its entrance, the Sheraton Grand has a bounty of amenities, including an outdoor hot tub overlooking the Theater District, a spa the size of Istanbul — complete with Turkish baths — and a seventh-floor courtesy room stocked with drinks and appetizers.
There’s also One Square Bar and Restaurant, known for its 52 varieties of Scottish gin, classic British eats and afternoon tea. Pro tip: Book clients in rooms with views of Edinburgh Castle. These accommodations show the back of the structure, a sight rarely seen by the average visitor. Rooms start avisitor. Rooms start at around $220.
Even before Wallace Shaw hands new arrivals a glass of wine, they are transported into his world of art and jazz. Shaw has dabbled in many fields — at one point, he was a design director for a cashmere company ¬— and his eye for casual sophistication shines in his minimalist abode, housed in the former Leith Assembly Rooms.
Located just 2 miles from the city center, this is an excellent choice for travelers who want to experience another part of Edinburgh but also be close to the Royal Mile action. Healthy daily breakfasts and free Wi-Fi access are provided, and rooms start at approximately $150.
Flamboyantly Gothic and romantic, The Witchery is Edinburgh's most decadent inn. Set in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, the inn serves the theater crowd, and the restaurant is packed at all hours — reservations are essential.
To add to the bewitching drama, suites have names such as “Vestry” and “Inner Sanctum.” Heavy curtains, four-poster beds, baths big enough for two, and the deep red decor make this the perfect getaway for lovers and ghost hunters alike. Rooms start at around $375.
This eatery with rooms for rent is named for the number of dishes on its Michelin-starred prix-fixe menu: two choices for the starter, main and dessert dishes, and one option for soup and cheese. There are four large bedrooms situated on two levels, each with stylish and comfortable decor. Huge bathrooms, rain showerheads and curved stand-alone tubs are complemented with heated floors and low lighting.
The experience is certainly unique, and considering the prowess of the chef, the meals are decently priced. Travelers should book far in advance to get one of the coveted rooms, which begin at approximately $230.