The Scotsman has a fascinating history and, standing proudly at the entrance to the Medieval Old Town, a top location. Having housed the headquarters of the Scotsman newspaper for nearly a century, the building reopened as a hotel in 2001, refurbished to retain as much as possible of its original character. Guestrooms are still named after their original purpose, and a wander through the editor's suite makes it clear why The Scotsman is so revered by locals and visitors alike. Relatively small by Edinburgh standards, the hotel nevertheless has everything you need for a five-star stay, priding itself on intimate service above all. With its large stained glass windows, castle-like turrets, monopoly boards and candle-lit stairwells, the hotel feels better suited to cosy winter stays than Edinburgh's long summer nights.
The Scotsman is perched at one end of Edinburgh's historical North Bridge, with its rival The Balmoral occupying the same prime position on the other side. The Scotsman is in the Old Town, just around the corner from The Royal Mile, which leads up to Edinburgh Castle. The hotel is also in a prime location for visiting other local attractions, such as The National Gallery and the Scott monument, or for shopping on the nearby Princes Street or George Street. The hotel looms over Waverly Station, which is just a few minutes' walk away. Direct airport buses depart from Waverly Station, and take around 30 minutes. The hotel doesn't offer private parking, but guests at the hotel will benefit from reduced rates at the nearby station car park.
Now owned by the council, the marble staircase leading from the hotel entrance to Market Street is remarkable in that each step is made from a different marble. Upkeeping the tradition, the gates to the staircase are locked between the hours of the last and first trains of the day at the neighbouring Waverly station. The hotel holds a Sunday night screening in their private cinema, which costs just £10 for film, popcorn and ice cream! The cinema seats 46 in big, cosy armchairs, and can also be hired for private use.
Don't be put off the labyrinth-esque maze of corridors, lifts and turrets in The Scotsman. The lift system may take a while to work out (when you enter the seemingly ground floor reception you are effectively already on the 4th floor), but a close look at the cross-section map of the 9-storey building should help keep you on track. It's the building's eccentricities that make it so charming, and which make it a success when you finally find your way to your room, the brasserie, bar, cinema, Vermillon lounge, spa or health club (remember - success is a journey, not a destination...), and anyway, it's no mean feat that the hotel has managed to fit in such a diverse array of facilities in such an unconventional space! The hotel's grand, high-ceilinged reception complete with wooden paneling and an enormous fireplace is a good taster for what's to come. Staff members are friendly and welcoming, and the hotel has a mellow atmosphere. As well as the North Bridge Brasserie, guests also have access to the relaxing Vermillion lounge - a cosy setting for an afternoon tea or post-work apéro. Comlementary Wi-Fi is accessible throughout. The Scotsman's Spa and Health Club have recently been renovated, and while guests have complementary access, the gym is also popular with residents meaning it gets very busy at peak times. Located on the lower floors of the building where the newspaper's printing presses once stood, the spa also has street access from Market Street, where the newspapers would have been distributed directly from Waverly Station across the country every day! Glowing with underwater blue lights, the16m swimming pool (the country's first ever stainless steel pool) feels distinctly out of place in the historical building. The pool area is dimly-lit and noisy, but it boasts an impressive room, Jacuzzi and sauna as well as a number of exotic shower experiences. Upstairs you'll find a large gym with over 60 stations, and a group studio. The health club also has its own café and relaxation lounge with a choice of magazines.
References to the building's former past are plentiful in The Scotsman's 56 guestrooms and 13 suites. Whether you go for a standard study or an editorial suite, guestrooms are cosy and traditional, many featuring wood paneling and quirky original features. Nice touches include an Edinburgh Edition Monopoly board encased in the coffee table (the pieces are available from reception), and a privacy hatch, which allows you to exchange room service and shoes for polishing discreetly. Deluxe rooms are one up from the standard "study", and their only difference is that they boast more floor space. We were impressed by the rooms' large, well-stocked mini-bars, impressive selection of teas, and complementary pichets of whiskey on arrival! In contrast to the traditional rooms, bathrooms are contemporary, if on the small side, and all have a combined bath/shower. Complementary Scottish Highland Aromatics products are a nice touch.
The North Bridge Brasserie is open all day every day, and is a popular venue amongst both locals and guests. Boasting the hotel's classic rich dose of history, the restaurant is an impressive mix of old and new, and Head Chef Geoff Balharrie in turn produces a menu of traditional Scottish cuisine with a modern twist. Diners can sit on the lower bar level, or around the balcony in the large, open plan room, which was formerly the newspaper's reception room.
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