Barcelo Edinburgh Carlton Hotel (Edinburgh)
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
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!)
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Ocean Serviced Apartments (Edinburgh)
When Dave got his latest contract here in Edinburgh he initially contacted the place that he had rented in previous years only to find that it was not available so he needed to find something else. His preference was to rent somewhere rather than staying in a hotel as it gives him more freedom when he is there at weekends. He ... found a website for a company called Edlets at www.edlets.com where he found an ideal flat and paid his deposit. Sadly we then found out that the person letting out the flat was acting on behalf of a friend who had also got a tenant so Dave was (almost) back where he started from.
Edlets notified their client that, since he was in breach of their rules by double booking the flat, he needed to find Dave alternative accommodation of the same or a higher standard for the same price.
As it happened the person concerned had flats in a nearby block known as Ocean Apartments and he offered Dave a ground floor, two bedroomed flat in the block which Dave accepted. Sadly when he moved in he found that it was not appropriate for him. It was hot and he could not open the windows as the space outside was used by smokers who couldn't smoke in the building and of course he couldn't open the curtains for the same reason!
When he complained he was moved to a two bedroomed flat on the third floor which is what will form the basis of this review.
Where is it?
Ocean Apartments can be found at Leith and the address is 2, Western Harbour Midway, Edinburgh, EH6 6PN. The website can be found at http://www.oceanservicedapts.com/ which gives all the details about the apartments, the availability and the costs and booking can be done online.
Currently the block is on the end of the row and so the view over the mouth of the Firth of Forth and Leith Docks including the Royal Yacht Britannia which is berthed there. Eventually the land next to it will be developed and a lot of the view will be lost but for now it is great!
What is it?
Ocean Apartments is a purpose built block of flats with a reception area for check in and out.
It is then split into four blocks each with a separate entrance and a courtyard in the centre. There is a secure underground car park and free parking comes with each flat.
The key to your flat comes on a fob which is used to open the outer doors by placing the fob over a pad next to the door to release the lock.
The flat that Dave has is a two bedroomed flat with one double bedroom and one twin bedroom. The double bedroom has an ensuite shower room and there is a separate bathroom with an additional shower over the bath. The living accommodation is an open plan living room, dining room and kitchen which is plenty big enough for Dave on his own and for the two of us whilst I was staying there. It would be a bit cosier with four people living there but it wouldn't be too bad.
The kitchen has an over, hob, sink, dishwasher, microwave, fridge freezer and toaster. The washing machine / tumble drier is in a cupboard off the hall where the iron and ironing board is also stored.
The kitchen is reasonably stocked - the cutlery and crockery are fine except for the fact that the dishes are VERY shallow but the cooking pots and pans are a bit limited. Dave has two saucepans, one two handled pan, a frying pan and a shallow ovenproof dish. There is nothing in the way of casseroles or soup dishes. This wouldn't really matter if you were only staying for a couple of nights but when you are staying for three months as Dave is it becomes more problematic. As it happens he does keep quite a few bits and pieces of his own which he takes with him when he rents accommodation to make life easier for him so this hasn't really caused too many problems.
There is a table and four chairs so eating is comfortable.
The lounge are consists of two black leather sofas each of which seats two people, a coffee table, and old fashioned television (not flat screen), a digital receiver box and a DVD player. There is also a huge window in the lounge overlooking the entrance to the harbour and I loved watching the tugs manoeuvring the big cruise ships into the lock so that they could enter the harbour.
The double bedroom consists of two single beds pushed together and then made up as a large double, two bedside tables although there was only room for one by the bed and the other was at the foot of the bed and a large built in wardrobe with shelf. There is a full length mirror on the wall.
The ensuite has an excellent power shower, toilet and wash basin and there is also a heated towel rail which is useful for drying the towels.
The bathroom has a bath with shower over, toilet, wash basin and another heated towel rail. There are shaver sockets in both bathrooms.
The twin bedroom has two single beds, two bedside cabinets and a large built in wardrobe with shelf. There is a full length mirror on the wall.
Throughout the flat there are plenty of sockets and free Wi-Fi access.
There are no cleaning appliances in the flat as it is cleaned weekly. The towels, tea towels and sheets will be changed and the bathrooms are cleaned and floors vacuumed. The cleaner leaves a cloth and sponge cleaner in the kitchen together with tablets for the dishwasher.
On one occasion the cleaning was missed but a text to the owner was all that was needed and the problem was sorted that day.
What did I think?
Well I have to say that I really enjoyed staying at the flat for a couple of weeks. The bed and sofa were both very comfortable and the flat is bright and airy. The windows are all tilt and turn so it is easy to get fresh air into the flat and since we were on the third floor we could leave the windows tilted open when we went out.
The bus stop is a few yards from the flats and there is a bus that takes your straight into the city every ten minutes. The bus journeys are all £1.20 or you can buy a day ticket for £3 and the buses are all new and clean with CCTV for added safety. Dave buys a four week ticket and catches the bus into the city to work leaving the car in the secure underground car park during the week.
There is an Asda supermarket which is about a half to three quarters of a mile away so that is an easy walk to do a bit of shopping. There is a Brewers Fayre pub at the end of the road together with an Italian restaurant and a Loch Fyne restaurant. There is also a large David Lloyd gym.
The whole area is still being developed and will be even nicer when it is all finished but there are already four or five blocks of purpose built flats all of which look very nice from the outside.
Ocean Terminal is about a mile and a half away and I walked there one day for a look round. There are plenty of shops and cafes and also this is where the Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed. When I had taken a good look round I caught the bus back to the flat as it was too hot to walk back!
I can't give you prices of the flats as you have to fill in the dates that you want to visit for the site to bring up the price and availability but it is certainly somewhere that Dave would consider again when working in the area as he has been very comfortable there and I definitely enjoyed my stay!
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Express By Holiday Inn (Glasgow City-Riverside)
I was visiting Glasgow for a music event at Bellahouston Park and due to it finishing late I wanted a hotel to spend the night in. I didn't spend a great deal of time looking as it would only be for the one night, and after comparing Travelodge, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn Express I decided the latter would be my best option as it ... includes a free breakfast. I pre-booked the room on the Holiday Inn Express website, the room rate was £99 which is expensive; however it has a central location not too far away from the train station and of course included that breakfast.
We walked to the hotel from Glasgow central train station and only took us about 10-15 minutes. There were lots of shops nearby and the hotel itself is situated on the banks of the river. On entering reception I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and modern it was, a few weeks previous I had stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in York which was a bit old. Check in is a super fast affair, greeted with a smile from the receptionist who handed over the key card in a matter of seconds, along with directions to our room and what times breakfast is served.
We were on the fourth floor of the hotel and our room overlooked the main street. It was quite noisy during the day with traffic however on an evening it was quiet which allowed for a peaceful night's sleep. The room was big enough for our needs, with a standard decor that seems to match all their hotels, a blue, red and white theme. The bed had pillows with tags on them stating 'hard' or 'soft' and it was a nice touch that they included both types. There was a sofa in the corner, the standard small old fashioned CRT TV, and a small kettle with a couple of tea bags, coffee and UHT milk. Towels were provided in the bathroom and on a shelf in the main room, and a hairdryer was attached to the wall next to a long length mirror. The bathroom again was pretty standard, with a good sized shower, a well lit sink and a toilet. There are dispensers on the wall, one in the shower providing hair and body shampoo, and one next to the sink with hand wash. You can tell the bathroom is always kept nice and clean as it had no mould or horrible stains.
Being a city centre hotel I was dreading some noise from guests coming back late but this wasn't the case. Entry into the hotel after a certain time is gained by using your key card, however there is a separate door to get to the rooms which allows requires a key card to gain access to, so it did feel very secure.
Breakfast was very busy, however compared to the Holiday Inn Express I had stayed at a couple of weeks previous, it was laid out much better. There was also a nicer selection of food with everything from the usual cereals and toast, to mini blueberry muffins, croissants, scrambled egg and sausages. There was one big industrial toaster however you can to put your toast through twice for it to cook, otherwise you were left with warm bread. Someone turned the heat setting up so it cooked on your first go, but a member of staff came over and announced it was turned up too high and turned it back down. I didn't see the logic in that, and guests kept turning it back up so they could have toast rather than warm bread! There were plenty of seats with large flat screen TV's, and lots of free copies of The Independent to read. You can take breakfast up to your room but as we found a seat easily we opted to stay there.
Check out time is 12pm, which is a really good time considering most hotels are usually around the 10am mark. Overall this is a decent central hotel if you are in Glasgow for a night or two, I don't think I could stay longer than that (and not just because I didn't like Glasgow itself!) but because I think it's the type of hotel you are there to simply sleep in. You can book a room here through the official holiday inn website, or through sites such as expedia or laterooms.
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Scotland Hotel National
Hotel National /
Address: Congress Rd / Hotel National / Glasgow / G3 8QT / Scotland - A modern and stylish hotel overlooking the River Clyde.
Address: 19 North Bridge / Hotel National / Edinburgh / EH1 1SD / Scotland - The Barceló Edinburgh Carlton Hotel is on the Royal Mile, just minutes from the world-famous Princes Street.
Address: 111 Swanston Road / Hotel National / Edinburgh / EH10 7DS / Scotland
Address: St Andrews Drive / Hotel National / Glasgow / Paisley PA3 2TJ / Scotland
Address: 301 Argyle Street / Hotel National / Glasgow G2 8DL / Scotland
Address: 16 George Street / Hotel National / Edinburgh / EH2 2PF Scotland - 5 star luxury hotel.
Address: Eddleston by Peebles / Hotel National / Scottish Borders / EH45 8QW Scotland - Offering a magnificent overview of the countryside woodlands, gardens, waterfalls and ponds in the Peebleshire countryside.
Address: Marine Drive / Hotel National / Irvine / Ayrshire / Scotland KA11 5AE - Offers distinct modern accommodations with a level of eloquence.
Address: Gleneagles / Hotel National / Auchterarder / Perthshire / PH3 1PN Scotland - A beautiful estate stretching across 27 acres of picturesque landscape.
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