The Caledonian hotel in Edinburgh is located in the west end of the city, around 5 mins walk from Princes Street and a short walk to most other key attractions. Formerly owned by Hilton, it has recently undergone a makeover under it's new owners, Waldorf Astoria.
The building was once a railway station but now boasts a glorious 5 star hotel. The Caledonian hotel is somewhat deceptive from the outside entrance which does not hint at the vast grandeur within. The reception area is relatively small with seemingly most of the airy station space being given to the spacious bar and adjoining grand main staircase.
The hotel boasts 241 rooms of 5 star luxury at prices ranging from £129.00. Our room was bought as a gift so I don't know the exact cost but I think there was a deal on as full refurbishment of the hotel was not complete - both car park and spa were not available for use as work had not finished on them yet. As such, I can't comment on their quality.
Our room was standard room on the first floor. It was well appointed and of a decent size. The view from the window was far from spectacular and consisted of air conditioning units and the dull facades of adjoining buildings. This however is where the disappointment ends as everything else was spectacular. The bed was a king size bed with a comfortable, if perhaps for some a little too firm, mattress. A small desk was located in the corner and mounted within a picture frame at the end of the bed was a large flat screen TV.
Where the room really came into it's own was the bathroom though. I find usually these are squeezed into tight spaces and very cramped, particularly the shower itself where washing can be a chore. Not so here. They opted to not include a bath which for some may be an issue, but instead had a huge shower with ample room to maneuver. The shower head itself was enormous and powerful and in addition there was a second hand shower. The bathroom was all white porcelain and spotless. Toiletries were excellent and fragrant and accompanying bath robes and slippers were made from fine cotton and wonderfully soft and comfortable.
Other room amenities included the expected array from mini bar, tea and coffee making, safe and an exhaustive list of room service items. The only grumble was that wi-fi was not complimentary and needed to be paid for. For a 5 star hotel and given the average standard price for a room this was surprising and disappointing.
Communal areas in the hotel were clean and clearly newly refurbished. It still managed to maintain its classic charm and often felt like something from a bygone era. Corridors were often strikingly long and punctuated by the odd upright piano or display. Many walls were adorned with pictures from the hotels past including many fascinating shots of it as a railway station.
The hotel had a new restaurant opened by Galvin but we didn't dine there. We did have a drink in the immaculate bar though and again, this had the feel of the distant past. The seating and tables were vintage in style and the room had an air of spaciousness owing largely to the very high ceiling. Drinks on offer ranged from a good selection of wines, spirits and cocktails through to a small but good handful of bottled beers, many of which were locally produced.
Given the stature of the hotel, you would expect the bar to be overpriced but it was actually quite reasonable with a glass of wine at around £7 and beer at £4. The standout feature however was the exceptionally good service we received.
We were quite peckish when we arrived late at around 9:30 but unfortunately the kitchen had closed. My wife had been ill throughout the day so had until now been unable to eat. By the evening she was hungry but limited to what she could actually stomach. I half jokingly asked our waiter if it was possible to have some toast and jam for her. He didn't respond beyond apologizing again that the kitchen was closed and left it at that, and I thought no more of it. That was until he later emerged with a plate of toast and jam... and at no cost! Nothing seemed too much for him and it was refreshing to received such excellent service.
This service was mirrored throughout the hotel where we encountered continuously courteous and helpful staff. Check in and check out were smooth and friendly. We however didn't have need to ask the concierge anything so can't comment on how they were but based on the rest of the experience, I imagine nothing would be too much trouble.
In all, this was an excellent 5 star hotel. We had a few minor grumbles such as no complimentary wi-fi but aside from that, everything was wonderful.
We went to the Hilton Caledonian after booking a room in the Hilton sale in Jan 09, had always wanted to stay there and it was supposedly a half price sale (we paid £119 for the night) We paid an extra £10 for a castle view but when we got there we were advised that no rooms with castle view were available! Wasn't happy with this so they agreed to upgrade us to a suite which had a castle view, sounded good but the suite whilst big ( bedroom and living room area with couch and chair, both rooms with flat screen tv's)it was very dull and worn, apparently they have re-furbished rooms, this obviously wasnt one of them so might be a good idea to ask when booking!
Went to the bar for a drink, we were told rather abruptly to sit down at a table, waited 10 mins and left, no one tried to stop us.
The location however is excellent, the hotel is ok, just not what you'd expect from a 5 star Hilton, the distinguised gentleman on the door was a delight!