Scotland on Sunday travel
The Glasshouse Hotel, Edinburgh
An underrated aspect of surprising your better half with a night in a top-of-the-line hotel in your own city centre is that it can remain a surprise right up until the last second. Instead of trying to search for explanations as to why the car is stuck behind a herd of sheep heading into the back-end of nowhere, it couldn’t have been easier to pretend these belated birthday celebrations involved drinks at some unnamed Leith establishment, only to make an immediate right turn into The Glasshouse and its pristine white, marble reception area.
Budget or boutique?
Rooms begin at £135 per night, though there are typically discounts on offer. There are eight types of room or suite available, while it is the only hotel in Scotland to have an Autograph Collection, with extra space. The hallways are decorated with artwork that displays iconic sights of Edinburgh, commissioned from and created by local artists.
The Macallan Suite – each room is named after a popular whisky – was stunning. The windows were floor to ceiling and ran the length of the back wall of the suite with a view of the landscape edging up towards the top of Calton Hill. They were also tinted, so guests can get a view of the outside without worrying about those on the outside getting a view of them. Thick, blackout curtains meant the intrusive nature of the morning sun didn’t get a chance to spoil a much-needed lie in.
A wooden room divider in the centre of the Suite gave a sense of it being both a bedroom and a livingroom. Crucially, the TV built into the divider could be rotated 180 degrees so the option was there to watch TV while either seated or lying down in bed.
In the bathroom, the bath was big enough to accommodate two people. There was a range of skin and haircare products, and it was pleasant to emerge from a good soak to a heated floor on the soles of your feet.
The only downside was the draining and flushing systems for the bath and toilet, with each making a sound similar to an airline lavatory whenever a couple of litres of water were removed.
Wining and dining
The set-up is a little different from your standard hotel dining experience in that there isn’t an evening dining room as such. Guests are instead welcomed into the Snug Bar, which lives up to its moniker. While standard dining tables and chairs are on offer, there is also plenty of comfortable seating available for eating and drinking. None are more appealing than the couches around the fire pit, which is in full view as soon as you walk into the softly-lit room.
Even if you settle for the traditional method of dining, the chairs all point away from the tables at a 45 degree angle to encourage a more relaxed experience.
As for the food, “light” would be the best description for the majority of dishes we experienced. Starters of haggis bonbons and black pudding rolls left scarcely a hint of grease and the desserts were similarly delicate, but as someone with a ravenous sweet-tooth, I must admit to wanting more from the chocolate fudge cake.
While there wasn’t an abundance of choice of main courses – 12 dishes, including three burgers – the pan-fried, locally-sourced sea trout was tremendous. Acidic and tangy in flavour, it was one of the best bits of seafood this writer has ever tasted.
Worth getting out of bed for
Almost every major attraction in the city is within a 20-minute walk of The Glasshouse. Princes Street is just round the corner, the Playhouse is almost literally next door, and with Leith’s continued gentrification there are a number of excellent bars and eateries to sample just down the street. There’s also the Omni Centre with a filmhouse, gym, swimming pool and other hospitality options.
The Glasshouse is all about the little extras, whether it’s the glass of prosecco on arrival, the whisky tasting set in each room, the offer of a turn down service or tea and Nespresso coffee facilities. Forgetting to leave my footwear outside the room for the shoe-shine service is a tremendous regret.
More than a stay, this was an experience. Everything about The Glasshouse was delightful. When can I come back?
Rooms start at £135 per night but see website for offers. The Glasshouse Hotel, 2 Greenside Place, Edinburgh EH1 3AA (0131-525 8200, www.theglasshousehotel.co.uk)