Do Not Disturb: The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

The rooms are a key strength of the hotel.
The rooms are a key strength of the hotel.
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The weekend usually begins for me with a battle through traffic to get to the Queensferry Crossing and Fife, so it was a rare treat to meet the missus in town and make the short walk to The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, formerly The Roxburghe.

This is the latest multi-million pound addition for a company which also owns the nearby Principal George Street, giving it a major foothold in the capital. A £25 million revamp of one of the city’s oldest hotels aims to break the traditional “stuffiness” associated with comfort at the luxury level.

On arrival we were greeted with the sight of around 200 revellers dressed head-to-toe in fetching green checked tartan, wearing “Jimmy Wigs” and definitely enjoying the hospitality. Had we come to the right place? It turned out they were a party of 256 Norwegians who were here on some kind of corporate jolly. This was going to be interesting.

Budget or boutique?

The rooms are a key strength of the hotel and a lot of thought has gone into making the best of this former Georgian townhouse, which still maintains traditional features. It’s a class above your typical boutique décor and we didn’t have to scatter 50 cushions to get on the bed – a bonus. There’s a real feel of luxury to the rooms which come with high ceilings and a great deal of space. We had our own record player in the separate lounge area with a selection of 80s classic albums from Japan’s Oil On Canvas to that one by the Thompson Twins if you fancied a night in with the eyeliner.

Wining and dining

Principal has teamed up with the people behind Glasgow eatery Ox and Finch to produce its first restaurant venture in the Capital. To be known as BABA, it opens next month. Its cuisine is based on Eastern-Mediterranean dining, focusing on multiple small sharing plates with flatbreads, spice and hummus on offer. The hotel also has a beautiful new dining and bar area called The Garden which is ideal for afternoon tea, hosting events or unwinding. The fabulous location means guests are spoilt for choice if they choose to eat out and we headed to nearby Thistle Street for a few drinks and some great Mexican street food.

Worth getting out of bed for

After a good night’s sleep, we went down to the brightly lit atrium area for breakfast. On top of a decent buffet there a full Scottish cooked breakfast on offer, which didn’t disappoint. Quality black pudding sat comfortably alongside lesser spotted haggis and the best bacon I’ve ever tasted. There is a range of options, such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and I’m sure someone will be able to find you an avocado if you ask them nicely. The Principal’s spa, like the restaurant, is currently under refurbishment but is due for opening in December and will include everything from a state of the art gym, to new treatment rooms and a luxurious pool and steam rooms.

Once out of the door you really are in the heart of Edinburgh and shopping followed by lunch is an easy option, or you can take in the vast range of tourist attractions nearby.

Little extras

Mint Club Sir? There were six of these biscuits in the shape of a chocolate palette on the desk in our room. A couple of golf magazines added to a feel of the right boxes being ticked. I even spotted Tunnock’s caramel wafers next to the tea and coffee kit. Downstairs there were newspapers aplenty, something that always provides a sense of things being in order. Not such a little extra but a huge Brucie Bonus for this place is the location. A glance out of the bedroom window and we could watch the Friday night action in George Street.

Guest book comments

Stylish with an air of luxury and top marks for comfort. I imagine there will be a buzz around this hotel given the brilliant location and target market. Those wanting to spend a weekend away in the big city will be hard pushed to find a better location and once things are fully up and running the restaurant and bar area will be a hot spot for both the tourist and the more discerning Edinburgh punter.

Kevan Christie

Rooms start from £169. The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, 38 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh EH2 4HQ, (0131-240 5500, www.phcompany.com)