Home to medieval alleys and a fairytale castle, Edinburgh is a city packed full of charisma, charm and character. Although we only had a short weekend break in Edinburgh, we quickly fell under its spell and wondered why it had taken us all these years to finally visit the Scottish capital.
There is so much to explore in Edinburgh, from historic monuments to beautiful parks, so it’s not difficult to see why it’s become such a popular place to for city breaks. Luckily, there are so many lovely places to stay regardless of your budget and tastes. There are plenty of hotels, hostels and guest houses in the city centre, Old Town, New Town and even further afield in places like Leith.
As it was our first time in Edinburgh, we were keen to see as much as we could during our short stay so we decided to stay in the city centre to be close to all the main sights. After spending what felt like hours researching the best places to stay in Edinburgh and looking at different hotels, we finally decided to splurge a little and stay at Waldorf Astoria’s Edinburgh hotel, The Caledonian. Although it was one of the more expensive hotels, we managed to find a good deal and decided to treat ourselves. After all, it’s nice to enjoy a bit of luxury every now and again!
A weekend break in Edinburgh at the Caledonian
The story of the lost station
Situated at the west end of Princes Street, the red sandstone hotel is an imposing and unique building full of character and history. At the end of the 19th century, there was a significant amount of pressure on railway companies across Britain to provide their passengers with on-site accommodation. Grand railway hotels were appearing all over Britain to serve the large stations and the Scottish capital needed to keep pace with the other major cities. And so, Edinburgh’s two major railway companies – Caledonian and North British – drew up plans to each build a luxurious station hotel.
North British Railway’s North British Hotel opened its doors in 1902 to serve Edinburgh Waverley and The Caledonian Hotel followed in 1903 for passengers traveling to and from Princes Street station.
The Caledonian offered guests luxuriously decorated bedrooms, designed in the style of Louis XV, and fine dining with exquisite views of Edinburgh Castle. The hotel soon became a favourite among the rich and famous, and hosted hundreds of well-known film stars, entertainers and royalty throughout the 20th century.
In 1965, Princes Street Station was closed as part of the nationalisation of Britain’s railways. The terminal was demolished and the hotel was extended over the former concourse. The cast iron gates on Rutland Street, now the entrance to the hotel car park, are a reminder of the hotel’s historic origins.
The Caledonian Today: A taste of Luxury
Hilton Hotels bought The Caledonian in 2000 and in 2011 it underwent a £24 million refurbishment and became part of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, the luxury flagship brand within Hilton Hotels’ portfolio. As part of the refurbishment, the original station concourse and ticket office became an elegant bar and lounge area, named Peacock Alley.
Each room has a flat-screen TV, a luxurious bathroom with lovely designer toiletries and fluffy bathrobes, making it easy to enjoy a night of pampering.
We stayed in a King Deluxe Room and although we didn’t have a view of the castle, the room was beautiful and perfectly decorated. The décor and design still retains a regal feel and the bed was so comfortable! I’m a very light sleeper so I always judge hotels on their beds but this one was incredible. The bedding and pillows were soft and I honestly had one of the best sleeps that I’ve ever had in a hotel.
The hotel’s central location makes it the perfect base for a weekend break in Edinburgh. It was wonderful to walk out of our hotel in the morning and look straight up at the castle. All the main sites are situated a stone’s throw away from the hotel. The Old Town is only a 20 minute walk away, although you pass by so many lovely places along the way that it will probably take longer than 20 minutes. If you plan your route carefully, you can see a lot of the sites, including Princes Street Gardens, Scott Monument and Calton Hill. The beautiful New Town and the tranquil Dean Village are only a short walk from the hotel and you’re not far from the lively atmosphere of George Street where you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants and shops.
There are so many lovely things to see and do in Edinburgh that it’s hard to stay inside. But the hotel’s Guerlain Spa does make for a very good reason. It’s the perfect place to spend a rainy day or a quiet evening. The spa offers an array of treatments and also has a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, as well as a gym with the latest equipment.
Although the hotel has been modernised as part of the refurbishment, it still retains its old-fashioned glamour and a timeless elegance. If you’re looking for a night of luxury then I’d highly recommend The Caledonian. Grand views of Edinburgh castle, sensational food, and a staircase that will make you wish you’d packed your ball gown. What’s not to love?
You can find more information about the hotel and current room rates here.