From the classical columns that dominate the building’s façade to the enviable location in the heart of ancient Stirling, the five-star Hotel Colessio exudes old-world grandeur.
But step inside and the new world awaits, with a modern and elegant interior that feels anything but outdated.
Budget or boutique?
This 37-bedroom property housed in the city’s old Royal Infirmary building was only opened as a hotel in 2014, but the Victorian landmark has already undergone significant changes.
Bought by private investors for £6 million just last year, an extensive refurbishment is close to being finished when we arrive for an overnight stay in May. The black and gold patterned carpets are plush and elegant. A rich timber screen divides the reception area from the Colessio Grill restaurant, which boasts an array of cosy armchairs and booth seating down one wall.
We have arrived late in the afternoon after a family day out at nearby Blair Drummond Safari Park and are greeted with a warm smile and introduction.
The venue is unashamedly boutique and suitably grown-up, without making you feel at all unwelcome. It’s a strong start.
We are staying in the Forth Suite on the hotel’s second floor.
Inside the room delivers both space and comfort. The king-size bed is covered in Egyptian linen, a down duvet and soft black and beige throw cushions. The en-suite has a deep bath, marble tiling and robes offering a real feeling of luxury.
All the practical boxes are ticked, with a recessed, wall-mounted plasma television, free wifi, hairdryer, and tea and coffee facilities.
Wining and dining
Our experience at the Colessio Grill is worth the stay alone.
After a request to push back our booking time by 15 minutes is managed without fuss, we sit down to a selection of canapés for starters.
The arancini balls and smoked salmon with cream cheese are highlights.
Head chef Stephen Donnelly has delivered a menu with classic Scottish dishes that maintains the modern twist evident in the renovations.
There is Cullen Skink, Isle of Mull scallops and Aberdeen Angus sirloin for the traditionalists, with much of the produce sourced locally from the Forth Valley.
We opt to move straight on to mains. My wife chooses the potato gnocchi with wild Scottish mushrooms, courgette, beetroot and sage, while I plump for the maple glazed Ayrshire pork belly with cauliflower puree and a mustard jus.
My wife is not prone to overstatement, so when she describes the fluffy-white gnocchi as the best she’s ever had, I sit up and take notice.
Even my four-year-old daughter’s fish and chips is worth writing home about.
Given the high standard of food and presentation, the prices are reasonable.
Worth getting out of bed for
It’s hard to go past the breakfast here. Served daily until 10am, guests have the option of helping themselves to a continental buffet, ordering a cooked meal ranging from eggs Benedict to a full Scottish breakfast, or combining the two.
A pot of freshly brewed coffee delivered to the table is generous. And if any good breakfast is judged by the velvety smoothness of the Hollandaise sauce, this one passes with flying colours.
The hotel’s location perched on the steep and winding Spittal Street is ideal for exploring on foot.
The gates of Stirling Castle are a 10-minute stroll away, while the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum is close at hand for culture vultures.
My wife enjoyed the quality of the Au Lait toiletries sourced locally from Falkirk, but I left most impressed with the care factor.
A call from reception within ten minutes of arriving in the room to check we were satisfied goes a long way to making a guest feel right at home.
The hotel is stylish, extremely well situated and comes in at just the right price point for the level of accommodation. But the real winner here is the food – book anywhere else for dinner and you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice.
Prices at Hotel Colessio start from £89 per night B&B. Hotel Colessio, 33 Spittal Street, Stirling (+44 1786 448 880, www.hotelcolessio.com)