The Best Hotels: Edinburgh

The Best Hotels: Edinburgh

Marcio and I recently spent a weekend in Edinburgh.  The weather forecast called for rain the whole visit, prompting the bellman at the Sheraton to dryly comment "Sunglasses. You're optimistic."  Very amusing, but I had the last laugh, as the weekend was mostly dry and quite sunny.  The visit afforded me the opportunity to tour a number of hotels in town, and I have three properties to recommend:

SheratonThe Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa
I typically shy away from the big mainstream hotel brands, but the newly-renovated Edinburgh Sheraton offers a really compelling combination of stylish, spacious, technologically-advanced rooms, great value and an superbly friendly and efficient staff.  Hotel guests enjoy complimentary use of the well-equipped gym, cleopatra baths (aromatherapy hydrojet tubs)  and 19-meter infinity edge indoor pool. A preferential day rate (£30) is offered for use of the extensive spa – easily the best in town. Many rooms have a view of the castle, but it's really the backside you're looking at.  The central location is actually at the edge of the tourist district — adjacent to the convention center, and a short 5-10 minute walk from most tourist attractions, but not quite as central as my other two recommendations.

Although Edinburgh is home to one of only two Missoni hotels in the world, the trendy chic address in town is the Tigerlily.  The Missoni earns its design stripes, but Tigerlily steals the scene, with a chic bar and restaurant that are busy with a changing crowd of beautiful people day and night, minus the self-aggrandizing attitude that too often permeates such establishments.  The 33 rooms are individually designed, with a swirl of stylish decor and modern electronics. WiFi, fruit and mineral water are all complimentary. Tigerlily's cool glamour is hidden behind a traditional Georgian town house façade, on historic George street, with the city's best shopping just steps away.

BalmoralThe Balmoral
The Balmoral Hotel sits on Prince Street in the very heart of Edinburgh, with postcard-perfect views from many of the rooms.  Many Grand Dame hotels are weighed down by their attempt to retain the grandeur of a past era, and others strip their historic legacy in an attempt to keep up with the times.  The Balmoral manages a perfect balance of contemporary style with just enough original details to still feel like a landmark of the golden age (which, it is – originally built in 1902).  It is comfortable  elegance at its finest. While J.K. Rowling wrote much of the early Harry Potter at the Elephant House Restaurant, it's no surprise she took a suite here at the Balmoral to finish the series.  The hotel boasts one of Edinburgh's few Michelin starred restaurants, and a pool and spa that are luxurious, though not as impressive as those at the Sheraton.

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