A night away is not to be sniffed at, even if the hotel in question is only a couple of miles down the road. So the chance to stay in Edinburgh’s rather posh Roxburghe was one to be seized with both hands.
Travel plans were minimal – jump on the 41 bus and 20 minutes later we were there.
Situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, the Roxburghe sits grandly on the corner of Charlotte Square and George Street. The hotel comprises a series of Grade A listed townhouses, designed by Robert Adam and originally built in 1791. Amid the Georgian splendour are a few modern extensions and the four-star hotel boasts 199 rooms and suites. Its location is spectacular: step out the front door, look left and Edinburgh Castle looms high above you. Princes Street is just around the corner but the classy shops are all on George Street now, which is on the doorstep.
Once owned by David Murray, the hotel has undergone a few rebrandings over the years. It was once a Crowne Plaza and then a Macdonald, but it is now controlled by PH Hotels, which also owns the George Hotel just along the road.
Budget or boutique?
Neither. Too big to be boutique and too classy to be budget, the Roxburghe falls into that category of traditional hotels that have become city landmarks. It is a popular venue for weddings, not least because you can have your photographs done in rather lovely Charlotte Square gardens, just across the road.
Ensconced in a superior room on the top floor, with views across George Street, there is a nice sense of understated opulence. The room is spacious, the bed huge and the mini-bar well stocked. There is also free wi-fi and a humongous telly.
Wining and dining
The George Street Bar & Grill is the hotel’s stylish restaurant and is more affordable than you might think. The two-course lunch is £9.95 and, as well as an à la carte dinner menu which offers a range of Scottish classics, there is a two-course set menu for £15.
Starters of haggis pakora and a haddock and prawn cannelloni were splendid. For the mains, the grill section is especially appealing and we had 28-day aged rib eye steak, cooked to perfection with French fries, mushroom and plum tomato. The added bonus was that we had a window seat which afforded excellent people-watching opportunities on George Street.
Breakfast was taken in the Club Lounge, a smaller more exclusive room overlooking Charlotte Square which is available to residents in the superior and deluxe rooms and suites. Tucking into a full Scottish on a Monday morning while watching those outside scurrying off to work made the Stornoway black pudding taste all the better.
Worth getting out of bed for
You are in the heart of one of Europe’s great capitals. Aside from the castle and Princes Street Gardens, the historic Royal Mile can be reached with a brisk walk up the Mound. There are galleries and museums aplenty and the zoo is only a short bus ride away. The city’s main theatres are all within walking distance and Edinburgh’s annual book festival takes place during two weeks in August in Charlotte Square Gardens, opposite the hotel.
If shopping’s your thing you could not wish for a better location in Edinburgh. George Street has the best the city has to offer, interspersed with a range of cafés and restaurants to suit all palates.
Sports fans are also well served, with Murrayfield, Tynecastle and Easter Road all within easy reach.
Down in the basement you will find a pool, gym and spa. A bit of a hidden gem, the pool is quiet and has a sauna and steam room attached. Get a few lengths in before breakfast and you won’t feel so guilty about that fry-up. The aforementioned Club Lounge is a lovely little oasis in which to sit and read the papers over morning coffee.
The Roxburghe combines grandness with a sense of history.
• The Roxburghe, 38 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4HQ (0131 240 5500, www.theroxburghe.com). Standard rooms £99.50 per night, Superior rooms £119.50. Breakfast £16.50.