I booked this hotel on the spur of the moment, without having any previous knowledge of it; after reading a few negative reviews on other websites I started to wish I had done a little more research before booking. However when I arrived I was pleasantly surprised.
I have stayed here twice now and although the rooms are a little drab and could use some updating, they were clean and had everthing I needed; hair dryer, TV, tea/coffee/milk/shortbread - all replenished every day. On my first stay I had a small single room and on the second, an executive twin room with a huge window overlooking Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle. Oddly enough, in both rooms I had a little troble with opening/closing the windows but the staff were more than willing to help.
The hotel's location cannot be bettered - it's especially handy if you're coming from the airport bus or Waverly Train Station as both are just across the road. It is in close proximity to all major attractions, including the fantastic bus tours, and sits literally in the middle of some great high street shops.
The staff here are fabulous (apart from a slightly surly lady serving breakfast) and make you feel extremely welcome. I would certainly recommend the Royal British Hotel to anybody travelling to the great city of Edinburgh.
Travelling for business is a bit of a novelty for me, so when a colleague asked me to join him in Edinburgh for a new business pitch, I was delighted. (Then I discovered the meeting was on my birthday - well, hey ho - I can think of worse places to spend my birthday than Edinburgh). Having booked my horrendously expensive train tickets, I then needed to find a hotel. Whilst I was able to claim back both the train and hotel bills on expenses, I was nevertheless aware that I needed to ensure that I wasn't spending too much - both for the sake of my firm, and the sake of my bank balance (as that's where it would be coming from initially). A quick search online led me to the Royal British Hotel, conveniently located immediately opposite Waverley train station, right in the centre of Edinburgh on Princes Street.
I booked online at www.royalbritishhotel.com, and found a B&B rate of £75 if I was willing to book and pay in advance. I was, so I did. The hotel looms over the railway station. The building itself looks quite old, though the entrance looks very 60s - concrete and glass facade. Reception isn't on the ground floor (the only thing that is apparently there is one of the conference rooms), but rather on the first (and a bit), thus necessitating a stair climb. This wasn't an issue for me, as I only had an overnight bag. I believe there was also a small lift, but I must admit, I didn't really pay much attention, my eye instead being drawn to the stairs right in front of me. The decor around the stairs and reception area was clean, if a bit tired.
Climbing the stairs brings you to reception. Again, the room was clean, though a bit dated - this is no modern boutique hotel. However, the reception staff were Scottish (seems obvious, but if you visit the Ibis a 10 minute walk away, you are greeted with a much more continental feel, both in decor and staffing) and unfailingly helpful and friendly. They informed me that breakfast was between 7.30am and 10.00, and checkout time was noon. I was given a key (a traditional key - not a swipe card), and directed upstairs to my room.
I discovered my room was actually a triple (even though it was only me occupying it), containing one double and one single bed. I slept in the double bed (of course) - it was comfortable and certainly spacious enough for one, and I'd say it would be big enough to sleep two average people comfortably, even though it's not a king size or anything fancy like that. The pillows were synthetic, but still reasonably smushy. I slept well enough, especially for just one night. There were three comfy chairs around a coffee table, a wardrobe, a desk, and a little sideboard with the tea making facilities. Again, the room was a bit dark and dingy, though clean and tidy. There was a telly, but I never turned it on. I wasn't there to watch television. There was also free wi-fi, but again, I did not investigate that. There were windows along one wall, but they looked out onto a roof directly opposite, and so there was no view at all. The windows are sash windows, that can (and were ) opened.
The bathroom was reasonably large, and contained three sets of towels, though sadly not of the big and fluffy type - more the budget hotel slightly rough and dinky type. As expected, I found a sink and bathtub with a shower attachment. Much to my relief, the shower delivered reasonably pressure. There wasn't much room in the bath, so I'd put my shampoo and conditioner (there were the typical freebies, but only of the typical budget hotel, rather than boutique type - the tiny, postage stamp sized bars of soap, and generic shower gel and shampoo) on the sink shelf. I then realised that to get to them, I'd have to allow room between the shower curtain and the wall to stick my hand through. This resulted in a wet bathroom. Oops.
Breakfast was a disappointment. The staff, whilst not quite surly in the breakfast room, were definitely not cheery. By the time I got to breakfast, the room was nearly empty, yet one couple who came in were severely admonished when they went to sit at a table set for six. I had to make eye contact with a waiter to simply get tea and toast, and no guidance was given (except a cursory nod to a stained laminated menu) as to what was available from the kitchen. In the end, I had a fried egg and a bit of bacon. These tasted fine, but were unimaginatively presented, and so didn't look as appetising as they might. The egg was, however, freshly cooked, with a pleasantly runny yolk. In addition, there was a buffet containing cereals, fruits, yogurt and juices - I had a fruit salad and some juice - again, competent yet uninspiring.
Check out was quick (again, compare to my colleague in the Ibis who had to wait and mess about for some time to get checked out), especially as I'd already paid for my room. Again, the reception staff were friendly and helpful, and allowed me (indeed, offered) to leave my bag at reception whilst I attended my meeting. This was very convenient, since the hotel really is directly opposite the train station (though necessitating a bit of a risky dash across Princes Street).
So...do I recommend it? What do I think? I have been to quite a few hotels of this type, all over Europe. The phrase that springs to mind when describing it is 'faded glory'. Once, this must have been an impressive establishment. The years, however, have not been kind. Having said that, it is clean, and has (apparently) been recently refurbished. The room was a good size, the bed comfortable, and the shower effective (I'm funny about showers) and the hotel is certainly conveniently located. The staff in reception (if not the breakfast restaurant) were lovely and charming. The price was right, especially if you purchase in advance - had I purchased even earlier, I could have cut £10 from my tariff (I've only just discovered this) - sadly, I couldn't as I had to wait for my meeting to be confirmed. The hotel claims to three stars. This is probably accurate.
I'd recommend it for people who need a convenient location, with rooms that can be easily and cheaply booked on the internet (especially if you can book in advance). It is clean and comfortable, just a bit dated and faded. Having said that, if you are after the clinical cleanliness of a modern chain, an Ibis or the like might suit you better; conversely, if you'd like more of the 'olde worlde' charm, there are certainly hotels, and probably B&Bs that would better fit the bill. But for a mid-priced, mid-appointed hotel, you probably won't find much better. Damning with faint praise? Maybe. But it really was charming, in a kind of adequate sort of way.