The Scotsman Hotel was originally the home of The Scotsman , Scotland’s national newspaper, before it vacated the premises in 1999. After a two-year renovation period, the hotel opened in 2001, endeavouring to offer a particularly Scottish brand of five-star luxury to discerning travellers. Luxury Travel Beat was in Edinburgh to give the hotel a whirl.
We begin by appreciating the hotel central location. Having arrived into a rainy Edinburgh by train from London, we only had to cross the road from Edinburgh’s Waverly Station to get to The Scotsman. It is also centrally located and within a short distance of most of Edinburgh’s attractions: The Royal Mile which leads down to the Palace of Holyrood House, the queen of England’s residence when she is in the city, Arthur’s Seat and Carlton hill from which one can enjoy magnificent views of the city, Edinburgh Castle, Princes and George streets which are the city’s main shopping avenues, and even The Elephant House cafe, which is where a struggling writer by the name of J.K. Rowling wrote a couple of books which went on to become bestsellers.
Sadly,we felt the location of the hotel is its strongest suit. Although our opinion of the hotel had already been marred by both the negative feedback and hotel manager’s decidedly passive-aggressive reactions on Trip Advisor, the first thing we experienced upon setting foot in the hotel is a lose tile on the floor by the reception. We marvel about something so glaringly amiss being overlooked in a luxury hotel while waiting to be checked in for what seemed like an eternity on a relatively quiet afternoon.
We are escorted to room 502, one of the hotel’s Editors rooms. Yet another wave of disappointment hits us as we discover that the room, despite being spacious, appears quite dated. The carpet is worn out, as are the sofas. The view from the room is of North bridge and, a tad ironically, The Balmoral, another 5-star hotel. Later, I get the opportunity to look at the hotel’s other rooms and although they are all uniquely different due to the building’s history, I am still left a bit underwhelmed, especially when I take into consideration other 5-star hotels I have stayed at in the past.
The next morning, we wake up determined to find something about the hotel to love. Enter, stage left, The Scotsman Spa and Health Club, a very large and spacious area of the hotel containing a gym, a spa and Scotland’s first stainless steel pool. I hit a treadmill with the vigour of a person aiming to atone for last night’s dietary sins only to realise that only the television attached to it works. The second treadmill exhibits the exact opposite problem, with the treadmill in good working order and the TV dead. By the time I find a treadmill that’s to my liking, I’ve realised that the equipment in the gym is relatively dated and in dire need of reparation. Perhaps the pool is the one feature of the hotel I would love to wholly and unreservedly endorse?
Wrong. As I gingerly tread the pathway leading from the changing rooms to the pool with my heart in my mouth, I begin to suspect that it too will remain an unfulfilled dream. The floor is wet and slippery throughout and although the hotel has placed mats along the path without taking care to wipe down the water, the mat placement inexplicably ends where it is needed the most – the stairs leading downwards to the pool. A Caution Wet Floor sign has been placed midway down the stairs just in case you had not realised how dangerous it could be to slide down the wet slippery floor.
By the time I’ve made it to the hotel’s North Bridge Brasserie for breakfast, all hope of finding a redeeming quality at The Scotsman has vanished. Which is, off course, when the redeeming quality shows up. The restaurant offers a sumptuous and delectable Scottish Breakfast which everyone planning to explore the hilly city of Edinburgh should definitely splurge on. We were going to climb Arthur’s Seat(one of Edinburgh’s 7 hills) later that day so we tucked into this calorific treat with reckless abandon. Having only tasted blood pudding for the first time a month earlier at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, I was surprised at how much more delectable the blood pudding tasted here. It was also the first time I sampled Scottish Haggis, which was altogether memorable.