ALISTAIR Grant checks into Old Town Chambers, a hotel in Edinburgh’s historic heart
WHAT better way to experience Auld Reekie’s moody appeal than by booking a room right in its heart? The Old Town Chambers straddle three medieval closes just off the Royal Mile and offer the largest collection of five-star serviced apartments anywhere in the capital. Built out from 15th-century foundations and steeped in period detail, the flats are modern, airy and welcoming – but retain just enough of their former character to evoke the city’s famously murky past.
Budget or boutique?
Ranging from one, two and three bedroom apartments to stunning penthouses and even a 15th-century townhouse, there is a host of options here for travellers to choose from. But all are of a high quality – more weekend treat than last-minute bed for the night.
Wining and dining
As these are self-catered apartments, there isn’t much in the way of on-site food and drink. But the central location means this doesn’t matter much; a variety of restaurants, cafés and pubs are all close at hand. Tea, milk and coffee are provided, however, and the spacious kitchen area in our flat left plenty of room to play chef. There was also a guide to local eateries and shops to help you stock up on supplies, as well as a Cranachan & Crowdie hamper packed full of delicious snacks.
In the morning, guests can enjoy breakfast at the nearby Royal Exchange Coffee House by booking through the Old Town Chambers website or contacting the front desk. Located just a few steps from reception at the top of Warriston’s Close, it’s open from 9am each day and serves both traditional and continental options.
There are 50 serviced apartments in a variety of shapes and sizes. Our room looked out over Waverley station, a sweeping panorama that takes in the tail end of Cockburn Street, the Gothic Scott Monument and the clock-topped majesty of the Balmoral hotel. It’s one of Edinburgh’s best views, and on a winter’s night is made even more magical by the twinkling lights of the Christmas market below.
Elsewhere, all the facilities are sleek and modern, with only the exposed brick walls and gabled ceilings hinting at the centuries of history contained within them. Each flat comes with free wi-fi and a range of hi-tech mod-cons, including smart TV and top-of-the-range sound system.
Our bathroom, meanwhile, had a drench shower and spacious tub, complete with comfy robes, fluffy towels and a range of posh Cowshed shampoos and soaps. Just don’t nick any of the bottles – the owner applies a £16 charge for any product that “inadvertently” finds its way into your suitcase.
As this is the centre of a bustling capital city, noise can be a bit of an issue at the weekend. It’s best to just soak this up as part of the atmosphere.
Worth getting out of bed for
You couldn’t ask for a better location from which to explore Scotland’s historic capital. The Royal Mile is a stone’s throw away and the imposing medieval castle a quick jaunt up the road, while the nearby Princes Street Gardens offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Throughout the festive period, Edinburgh comes alive with Christmas markets selling everything from reindeer hide to overpriced mulled wine, so you’re unlikely to be short of things to do.
For those feeling adventurous, the close proximity of Waverley station allows ample scope for day trips into the surrounding area. Otherwise, shops, tourist attractions and a range of eateries and drinking holes are all on your doorstep. There’s no excuse to stay in bed – though with rooms like these, you may well want to.
The Cranachan & Crowdie hamper was a welcome treat and a nice touch.
Luxury rooms in the heart of the city, with top-of-the-range facilities in a captivating, historic setting.
• From £99 per night for a studio flat to £1,200 per night for a 15th century townhouse. Old Town Chambers, 3 Roxburgh’s Court, 323 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1LW (0131-510 5499, www.lateralcity.com/old-town-chambers)