NESTLED into the Georgian splendour of Edinburgh’s East End, in the shadow of the Scott Monument and walking distance from the castle and National Galleries of Scotland, the location of the George Hotel gives it a head start when it comes to choosing your stay in the capital if based on the street map alone.
Formed out of a series of townhouses by famed architect Robert Adam, the George is certainly a favourite among locals when it comes to hosting balls and weddings. That’s no surprise, given its retained grand architecture and four-star rating. Now owned by Principal-Hayley hotels, increasingly it has attracted a younger crowd at weekends thanks to its fantastic refurbished cocktail bar and Tempus restaurant, both of which appeal to after-work revellers as much as the more sedate socialiser. n
WINING AND DINING? Johnny Cash, Elizabeth Taylor and Shir Sean himshelf have all dined at the George’s restaurant over the years in its many guises. We were there on a bustling Friday night when its current incarnation, Tempus, was buzzing with large tables of families and friends enjoying the casual dining menu in impressive high-ceilinged surrounds. We enjoyed Loch Fyne citrus and black pepper smoked salmon, potato blinis and horseradish cream (£6.95) and pistachio crusted goat’s cheese, rocket and shiso salad (£5.95) for starters, followed by polenta cake, chargrilled vegetables (£11.95) and fillet of seabass, parsnip purée, pea shoots and red wine jus (£16.95). The cheeseboard (£7.25) was more of a table centrepiece than a serving for one, so we fell, contentedly, at the final hurdle ... and shared the grapes.
ROOM SERVICE? Our executive room had fantastic views out over the New Town’s chimneys to the Forth and Fife’s hills. Decorated in plush plums and greys, with heavy drapes and soft furnishings, it was a very comfortable space, with just enough room for lounging outwith the bed. The bathroom was big enough to swing a tiger in, should you pick one up on your travels.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? The best of the city’s glamorous and gothic attractions are all within walking distance. Harvey Nichols, Jenners and George Street’s shopping, eating and drinking delights are on your doorstep, while the New Town’s history and more independent pockets such as Stockbridge and thriving Leith are a gentle stroll north. This is a great base if you intend to do little more than indulge and then collapse in comfort at the end of your exploits. My top local dining tips include Wellington Coffee, Martin Wishart’s The Honours for lunch, and dinner at Centotre or Harvey Nichols’ Forth Floor restaurant, all within five minutes’ walk.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? The four-star George was winner of the Best Hotel in Edinburgh at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2011, which will surprise anyone who has stayed at the similarly-graded Novotel or Apex hotels in the city centre, which boast stylish swimming facilities.
LITTLE EXTRAS? Plasma TV and movies on demand, broadband and a laptop-sized safe are all standard in rooms.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? What it lacks in leisure facilities it makes up for with location and service standards, which we couldn’t fault. The George offers a shopping break stay in an executive bedroom upgrade, full Scottish breakfast, two glasses of champagne in Tempus bar and a £20 Jenners/House of Fraser shopping voucher for £119 per person, and is currently advertising a two-night fairytale break from just £49.50 per person.
George Hotel, 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh (0131-225 1251, www.thegeorgehoteledinburgh.co.uk)