The Caledonian Hilton, soon to be re-branded a five star Waldorf hotel, is one of Edinburgh's iconic architectural masterpieces. Ideally located on the threshold between Edinburgh's New Town and the Old Town, The Caledonian sits the base of the infamous castle, looking out over Princes Gardens. The best thing about this hotel is its spaciousness ? a luxury in a historical town, and one that can't be changed thanks to the building's listed status. An old railway hotel, The Caley (as the hotel is affectionately known in Edinburgh) pairs period features with a modern, sophisticated decor. The hotel already has a reputation for excellence, so it's no surprise that it's going after its well-earned fifth star.
When The Caley first opened its West-end location was described as "the pivot point on which all of Edinburgh turns". The hotel is located at the far end of Princes Street, Edinburgh's busiest shopping area. To its right lies the Old Town and the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, and to its left the lovely Georgian New Town, with its many trendy bars, cafes and classy boutiques. Thanks to the hotel's enviable address, guests benefit from unspoilt views of many of Edinburgh's major attractions. The hotel is located midway between Waverly and Haymarket Station, each around a ten minute stroll away. A direct airport bus departs from Princes Street and takes around 25 minutes. Guests arriving by car can use the hotel's private car park, which costs £10/night and works on a first come first serve basis.
The Caledonian was built in the 19th century to serve passengers of the newly-built Caledonian railway. At a time when industry was booming and Scotland was growing in popularity as a holiday destination, railway owners saw the need to raise the bar on the capital's prestigious hotels. At the other end of Princes Street, rival company North British Railway was erecting its own palace of hospitality, now known as The Balmoral. Both hotels are still recognised for their excellence, and rivalry between the two continues.
Bustling with activity, the reception is at the heart of the hotel and despite the commotion of guests arriving and leaving, plenty of friendly and multi-lingual staff members were available to help. The hotel is heaving with period features, such as the wide corridors (that allowed ladies to pass in their large skirts back in the day), original brass lamps and grand stairwells featuring the city crest. Public spaces are plentiful, including two restaurants, two bars and several lounges. Guests also have complementary access to the hotel's health club, located on the other side of the car park. Featuring a large pool (with sauna and Jacuzzi) and a spa, the health club is as well-equipped for relaxing as it is for working out! Wi-Fi is accessible for free in public areas, but the high-speed internet access in guest rooms is charged at £5/hour.
Uniformly decorated in cool, calm colours, The Caledonian's 254 guestrooms are spacious and in perfect nick. Choose from a variety of room-types, including Standard, Standard Plus, Deluxe, Deluxe Plus and the suites. The main difference between room-types is the size, but certain rooms boast outstanding panoramic views of the city, so check this when booking. On arrival guests are welcomed with a complementary mini bottle of whiskey, and complementary water. A turn-down service is available on request.
The Caledonian has two restaurants and two bars. Opened in 1914, The Pompadour Restaurant has grown an admirable reputation having hosted a number of up and coming and top chefs over its many years in business. The restaurant has retained its original décor, and has lovely views of Princes Street through ancient arched windows. Don't miss out on the magnificent afternoon tea, served daily from 2-5pm, where the decoration brings you back a good hundred years, and the selection of freshly prepared cakes, sandwiches and scones are to die for. The hotel's second restaurant, Chisholms Restaurant, is set against the backdrop of the former Caledonian Railway Station arrival platform. The brasserie-style restaurant is less formal than The Pompadour, and more suited to families. After dinner test one of the 250 malt whiskies on offer at The Caley Bar, or head to Henry J Beans for a cocktail.
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