New life in the Old Town, Scotland on Sunday’s Do Not Disturb
With two days to spare before heading off on a cruise around Scotland, we checked into the Apex Grassmarket in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town and our stay started well with a warm greeting from the hotel’s international staff. A Scottish family-owned hotel, the Apex Grassmarket offers mid-market prices for quality rooms, and in the process gives the larger hotels a run for their money.
Before stepping out to explore the city’s historic streets, we started our day with a refreshing swim in the hotel’s swimming pool and the fitness studio, both free of charge.
Budget or boutique?
The modern lobby, bar and restaurant areas are decorated with lots of bright colours, striped carpeting, black tiles and welcoming airy spaces, leaning towards the boutique side of life. If you book directly with the hotel you’ll enjoy the best rates, with January and February offering good value. A Saturday to Monday break can yield savings compared with a Friday to Sunday stay. Only the deluxe rooms have a balcony, while superior and family rooms offer views of the Castle. Room prices start at £99, but expect the price to soar during the festival season.
Our room was stocked with Elemis toiletries and had complimentary wifi and a 42” LCD TV. The bed and pillows were comfortable and our deluxe room was stylish and large. But the deal breaker was the narrow balcony accessed by a large door, with Edinburgh Castle looming above and the Grassmarket below. The room’s balcony is not separated from other rooms, it’s one long strip with rooms leading on to it, so I felt uncomfortable leaving the door open at night – and it’s the only ventilation in the room. There is no air-conditioning or fan, unless you ask for a free-standing fan at reception.
Wining and dining
The restaurant offers floor-to-ceiling windows with great views across Grassmarket. On offer is a filling and meaty Scottish breakfast which will keep you going longer than the Duracell bunny. It consists of black pudding, bacon, sausage, egg, tomato, baked beans, mushrooms and a tattie scone. Breakfast can also be a continental affair or you can choose from a selection of hot food from the menu. We ordered eggs benedict – not the best we’d ever eaten, and service was a little random.
If you choose to dine at the hotel, there is unique fusion food with Scottish classics with a modern twist in the hotel’s Metro Bar & Brasserie. Alternatively, there’s no shortage of restaurants, cafés or pubs in the vicinity that offer breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Worth getting out of bed for
The views of the castle looming high above the hotel are pretty special and watching the bustling Grassmarket below is always entertaining. At weekends there’s a farmers’ market outside. The obvious iconic landmarks, such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Greyfriars Kirkyard, are just a stone’s throw away, along with some of the best shops and restaurants in town.
The hotel has just completed a multi-million-pound refurbishment across all 169 bedrooms. You’ll get access to the swimming pool, fitness centre and gym, wifi, and an Apex “Austin” duck – exclusive to this hotel and yours to take home. There is a small guest car park located off-road that is available for £12 per 24 hours. Guests can also park at the nearby NCP car park on King’s Stables Road, with a voucher available on request from the hotel team, which will reduce the rate to match the hotel car park.
The views and central location are the highlight and the hotel is ideal for family, business and romantic stays. It can be accessed easily from Edinburgh airport by the Skylink 300 bus opposite domestic arrivals for £4.50.
Standard rooms start from £99 a night (tel: 0800 049 8000, www.apexhotels.co.uk)