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The beauty of this hotel is only skin deep
Barcelo Edinburgh Carlton Hotel (Edinburgh)
Member Name: MoodyLauz
Barcelo Edinburgh Carlton Hotel (Edinburgh)
Advantages: Location, has a swimming pool
Disadvantages: Expensive, different bits tatty, noisy, not enough plugs in room, hot
I recently returned to Edinburgh for a couple of nights and ended up staying in the Barceló Carlton.
~ Location ~
The Carlton is a 4 star rated hotel located on North Bridge Street in Edinburgh. It is a massive, grand looking hotel which cant be missed! It is located a few minutes walk away from the main shopping district (Princess Street) and Waverley train station. There are bus stops located near the hotel and the Royal Mile is just a stones throw away. Although you can drive to the hotel (it has a car park) unless you like driving through busy city centre roads I wouldn't really recommend it!
~ The Room ~
After checking in to my room, in the very impressive looking hotel reception, I made my way to my room. I wasn't directed which way to go which I thought it would have been a nice (I always find myself easily getting lost!). However, I found my room easily enough as it was very close to the lifts.
The room itself had a massive corridor which was very dim and gloomy. This opened up in to a reasonable sized room which was luckily a lot lighter. The room had all the basics including a fridge, a desk and small table with a couple of tub chairs and at a first glance over seemed pleasant enough. The bathroom was large with a bath and shower. However, it was on closer inspection and just staying in the room that I began to notice all the little things that weren't quite right.
The room was very warm and the air conditioning was obviously not working. Instead the room had been given two fans (not exactly the same as air con). However, when I trailed through the room looking for plugs I could only find one! All of their 'normal' fixtures and fittings had been placed in special plugs which were covered up so you couldn't unplug them. I plugged in one of the fans and it didn't work and when I plugged the other one in I discovered I wouldn't be able to choose the setting of the fan. It seemed to have been set to level three (the highest) and was very noisy so I didn't bother with it for very long.
I was in what I presume would be a twin room as it was two single beds, though I was in the room on my own. However, the two single beds were pushed together. If you were given this as a double you would be annoyed as its not a double bed and if you shared the room as twin you would probably not like to be sleeping quite so close to the other person. Although the bedding was fine, the top cover (I'm not sure what they are called!). which covered the bottom half of the bed on both sides were really tatty with lots of rips and snags.
The bathroom had lots of dark black hairs on various different surfaces. This could easily have been the cleaners but even so it wasn't very nice and made me wonder how well things were cleaned. On closer inspection the shower curtain smelt and the tap had a lot of brown dried gunk around its base. The freebie smellies given with the room were a bit rubbish and I wasn't given a small bottle of hair conditioner, just a shower gel and shampoo, which I think should almost be a given in a 4 star hotel (or maybe I'm just being picky?).
I'd say that everything in the room (but not the bathroom as that felt slightly more modern) was just beginning to look a little tired and dated and just needed a refresh and a proper look at. Simple things like a random shelf being left under the desk, the hair dryer stand being broken could easily be fixed. Where as looking at updating the old TV to a flat screen and providing more channels, fixing the air con and improving the bedding could probably easily be done with a little investment, making the room actually feel like a 4 star room.
Just to note on the cleaning of the room while I was there. As I already mentioned I was a bit dubious of it after seeing the bathroom (and also an opinion card was left for me on the bed that had already half been filled in kind of proves a lack of attention to detail). When I came back to my room on my second night it must have been just before 5pm, I found that the room still hadn't been cleaned. I was thinking of going out to look at the shops in Edinburgh and set about getting changed. However, no longer had I kicked off my shoes then there was a knock on the door which I presumed was the cleaner (I had noticed one in the corridor before getting in to my room). I couldn't even get to the door before she had opened it herself (this annoyed me as I think she knew I was in there and she shouldn't really just be letting herself in - what if I had have been half way through getting changed?). She said she wanted to clean my room which I said was fine but I wanted to get changed first so I asked if she could wait to clean for a couple of minutes. She just stared blankly at me and repeated that she needed to clean. She basically didn't speak English and after a few minutes of trying to explain to her I wanted 5 minutes and then she could clean she had to go and find someone else to translate what I had said to her. This really annoyed me because not only should she really have understood the words come back in 5 minutes (she's likely to come across it a few times cleaning in a hotel) this was all over cleaning which should have really have been done before 5pm!
~ Food glorious food ~
There are two options for eating in the hotel. There is the Bridge Bar and the Bridge Restaurant.
~ The Bridge Restaurant ~
If dinner is included with your stay then this is where you eat. It is open to all guests and I presume also non guests. It is located next to the Bridge Bar but since this bar during my stay was quite quiet this wasn't an issue. The menu in the restaurant is fairly small and there isn't a massive choice. This is fine if you wanted to eat here for a couple of nights but if you had booked yourself in for a week with your dinner included then the likelihood is that you would get bored with the lack of choice. If your dinner isn't included then you will probably find the restaurant quite expensive (even if it is included there were a few meals that included supplements you needed to pay). Starters vary from £5.00 to £6.00, mains from £14.00 to £25.00 and desserts £5.00 - £7.00.
An example of a meal you could have in the restaurant:
Goats cheese and cranberry cheesecake with a beetroot syrup £5.95
Grilled fillet of sea bass with pak choi and sweet peppers drizzled with a sesame and ginger dressing £14.50
Chocolate Brownie Brule £5.25
I had a couple of meals in the restaurant and it was nice. However, I did feel it was over priced and for the amount you were paying, not very filling. The service in the restaurant was good and everything was served in a timely manner, I didn't feel rushed but nor did it feel really slow (which can often happen when you eat on your own). After you place your order you are served a bread roll I was disappointed that these were part baked rolls, surely in a 4 star hotel it wouldn't be difficult to source some fresh bread. In fairness I'm a fan of part baked rolls and they are nice if you get a fresh one but ones that have cooled down are chewy and hard. However, if my other half had been with me, he really wouldn't have been impressed as he really dislikes part baked rolls.
I had the meal mentioned above and although I loved the cheesecake starter (it was very goats cheesy, something that's often not present in food with goats cheese in it!) I think that was the best bit of the meal. The sea bass was nice but it wasn't good enough for the price as the sauce was lacking flavour and there just wasn't enough of it. I did wonder if this might be the case when I ordered it but I refused to pay nearly £4.00 for a side of fries. The dessert should have been heavenly as it mixes my two favourite desserts and although it was tasty it really wasn't anything special.
If you stay in the hotel and cant be bothered looking for somewhere to eat then I would say try the restaurant as it is ok and the staff in there are friendly but don't expect anything too much from it. Also remember to book as although the restaurant was never full when I went to eat there I was always asked if I had booked and on one occasion had to wait about half and hour before I could be seated.
~ The Bridge Bar ~
I chose to eat here on the second night wanting to avoid the formality of the restaurant. The bar itself is quite nice but is, like most hotel bars, hideously over priced, with a pint of Carlsberg and a small bottle of Magners each costing well over £3.00. The food in the bar is quite simple consisting of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and a selection of more substantial meals such as curry, pizzas and burgers. Sandwiches and the like cost around £9.00. Main meals cost around the £15.00 mark. However, I ordered a meal from a promotional menu which was slightly cheaper with a range of 'basic' pub style (though nothing to get excited about) main meals for £11.00. I opted for some simple fish and chips as I wanted something quick and filling.
I felt that by choosing to eat in the bar that I was putting the bar staff out, even though it wasn't particularly busy. For example; my cutlery was just placed on a napkin in front of me rather than being placed to my side. Maybe I'm being picky but for the prices in the bar and the fact that it's a 4 star hotel I was expecting a bit better. The fish and chips were presented nicely (though without any tartar sauce!) but that was about the only good thing about it. The chips were undercooked, there weren't many of them and around half had weird dark brown bits on them. The fish tasted and looked just like it had came out of box in the freezer. Frankly I could have done a better job at home.
With the main leaving me less than satisfied I opted for a pudding as one of my favourites was on the menu: Chocolate Brownie. This cost just short of £7.00 so I thought it might be something special. I can safely say it was not. Again the food looked nice there was a reasonable square of brownie with a small scoop of ice cream on top, garnished with a strawberry and mint leaf and drizzled with white chocolate sauce and then sprinkled with icing sugar. My first annoyance with the pudding came with the strawberry as it wasn't even one strawberry, in fact it wasn't even a half. I had two small slices of strawberry! When you pay that much for a dessert I think they can afford to give you at least half a strawberry, especially at this time of year when they are in season and cheap as chips! The brownie itself was really hard and I had to use both the fork and spoon to be able to break in to it. Although it tasted good, I was glad I had the ice cream to give it some moisture.
All in all the bar left me completely unsatisfied. It was a complete rip off and I would only recommend it for a drink if you really don't want to leave the hotel. However, your so close to lots of other bars that you would have to be pretty lazy to not want to leave. Put it this way: To avoid the prices I ran through the pouring rain without an umbrella to a pub that's less than a minute away with a much better atmosphere (there are plenty of pubs a couple of minutes away that have live music) and the prices are much more reasonable
~ And so to bed ~
I'm afraid to say that over the three nights I stayed in the Carlton I didn't have the best nights sleep. I was so tired on the third night that I had a few pints in a short space of time to make sure I would get to sleep and sleep through the night.
The bed itself was fairly comfy though it had that dip on the end, which you get with a lot of hotel beds, where everyone has sat to watch the TV. I ended up trying to sleep sideways. However, because the room was a double made up of two single beds, they were two different heights so it wasn't the most comfortable way to sleep.
I also unfortunately had a room that faced the street and this at first caused me a bit of a dilemma. The room itself was ridiculously warm and although the window wasn't open much it did let in a nice breeze. However, the noise from the traffic outside was quite loud (especially since I'm used to very quiet nights out in the countryside). The problem was solved for me as when I tried to shut the window, I couldn't. I don't know whether it just wouldn't shut or if it was me just being a bit dumb but I just dealt with it as the breeze was nice and since the windows weren't double glazed I presumed shutting it wouldn't make that much difference.
During the first two nights of my stay I was woken up throughout the night by various different things. Outside when the traffic stopped quite late at night, the drunks began and after a couple of hours the traffic would begin again with bin men, lorries and buses. Inside being near the lift meant there were a few times I was woken up by inconsiderate people returning to their rooms but worryingly one night someone tried to get in to my room. Although I had put the extra lock on the door being on my own it really freaked me out.
At the end of the day no matter how tatty bits and pieces are a hotel is ultimately there to give you a decent night sleep. This hotel couldnt even do that.
~ Breakfast ~
Breakfast is served in the restaurant and is a self serve buffet. You are initially given a table and at some stage someone will come round to offer coffee. The breakfast itself was...interesting. The choice available was the usual, hot food (bacon, egg etc), pastries, bread, cereals, juices and fruit. The fruit selection I found a little strange with lots of prunes and oranges. I did try some of the melon they had but it was over ripe and was just tasteless and mushy. The juice they served was warm and I couldn't understand why it wasn't just kept in a fridge. The pastries were nice enough but were very crusty and I do wonder if they were part-baked pastries (if you can get those or something similar?) rather than being freshly baked. The hot food was pretty disgusting. I'm not a huge fan of breakfast served in a buffet style anyway as I don't think it ever really tastes very nice. However, the only part of the hot selection I liked was the grilled tomato. The bacon was extremely chewy and the sausage was almost inedible. There also didn't seem to be enough staff around at breakfast as items often ran out and took a little while to be replaced.
All in all I wouldnt recommend breakfast and with McDonalds and other places open for breakfast nearby I would opt for going to those instead.
~ Other facilities and info ~
The hotel does have a health spa and leisure centre. This was not something I visited but I believe the pool and gym were free to guests of the hotel (though I found no literature in the room to 100% confirm this.) Health spa treatment prices varied and although perhaps a little expensive didn't seem too over priced.
They cater for business meetings and events, short golfing holidays and weddings
Price: The prices for the hotel do seem to vary quite a lot and obviously depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. The prices for a double guest room seem to be between £100 - £150 per night but I just searched the Barceló website today for a room in exactly a months time in August and got the following result for a double guest room:
Room only: £260.00
Inc. Breakfast: £284.00
Inc Breakfast and Dinner: £324.00
Website: http://www.barcelo-hotels.co.uk/hotels/scotland/ba rcelo-edinburgh-carlton-hotel/
Address: 19 North Bridge Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SD
~ Overall ~
As you can probably tell I'm not this hotels biggest fan and I probably wouldn't recommend it. The hotel is good for its location and although I didn't use it I liked the fact it had a swimming pool. I think it might be more enjoyable if you stay in a more expensive room, which might be kitted out a bit better or make sure you get a room that's away from the road so you can sleep. However, I just feel that the hotel is not at all worth the price and its 4 star rating is not at all justified judging by my stay (in fact I would love to see the room/rooms that were judged at that standard).
(Sorry this has been a bit of a monster review but I hope it has been helpful!)
Summary: Only recommended if your planning on an all nighter in Edinburgh so you dont really need to sleep!
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