The Glasshouse, Edinburgh, hotel review, Scotland on Sunday Travel

The Glasshouse, Edinburgh, has two acres of roof garden in the centre of the city
The Glasshouse, Edinburgh, has two acres of roof garden in the centre of the city
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A former church offers five star style and a garden oasis in the centre of the capital

With previous incarnations as diverse as a church and a carpet warehouse, the Gothic style frontage of 2 Greenside Place is now home to one of Edinburgh’s most distinctive luxury hotels.

One of the 77 rooms, some of which lead straight onto the roof garden

One of the 77 rooms, some of which lead straight onto the roof garden

Wedged between the Playhouse Theatre and the Omni Centre, The Glasshouse Hotel opened in 2003. It has recently been refurbished under new owners, YTL Hotels, to enhance its status as a popular city centre location for both business and leisure use.

Budget or boutique?

With room prices starting at £200, it definitely comes into the boutique category. With stylish and contemporary decor throughout, kicking off in the reception area as you enter through the original church frontage, it offers anything but a run-of-the-mill hotel experience.

Room service

There are 77 rooms, most of which have direct access to outdoor space of which The Glasshouse boasts more than any other hotel in Edinburgh.

Our third-floor suite led straight on to the rooftop garden, a two-acre terrace which is the most singularly appealing feature of the hotel. We enjoyed the good fortune of our stay coinciding with some late autumn sunshine, allowing us to fully appreciate the tastefully designed space. In summer, group barbecues and luxury picnics are hosted here, and are unsurprisingly popular with guests and non-residents alike.

While we were reluctant to leave the garden, it was no hardship stepping back into our cleverly designed suite. It was five-star all the way, from the splendidly comfortable bed to the heated bathroom floor, containing all the features and amenities you would associate with a top-end hotel.

Wining and dining

Unusually for a five-star hotel, The Glasshouse no longer offers a formal restaurant service. We only discovered this after reception staff had initially confirmed a time for a dinner booking with us when we arrived. When we duly sauntered along to The Snug area at the appointed hour, we were greeted by bemused looks from staff when we asked to be shown to our table. Confusion reigned for a few minutes as we wondered if we would need to seek alternative dining options elsewhere. But eventually a table was prepared, near the copper fire pit at the heart of the cosy Snug, and the all-day menu was provided.

The food didn’t disappoint. There is a good selection of sharing platters if you want a starter, followed by a wide range of meat and poultry dishes all supplied by Campbell Brothers. It’s fine food rather than bar food. We opted for the steak frites which were outstanding.

The centrepiece of The Snug’s bar is an impressively stocked whisky cabinet from which the bar staff conjure up some inventive and tasty cocktails.

Breakfast is served in The Brasserie on the second floor, a decorous and light-filled room directly facing Calton Hill. There is a range of continental and buffet options but we chose the full Scottish, the highlight of which was sublime haggis.

Worth getting out of bed for

The hotel’s location could hardly be more convenient, close to Waverley Station and just across the road from the final tram stop on York Place. It’s ideal for any visit to Edinburgh, whether business or leisure.

We stayed on a Sunday and enjoyed a relaxing stroll up to Princes Street Gardens and on the Monday morning, a more bracing walk down Leith Walk after breakfast.

Little extras

Every room offers amenities such as tea and Nespresso coffee facilities, docking station and laptop safe as standard. The wi-fi is top notch, allowing you to easily access the handy newspaper and magazine app provided free to every guest.

Guestbook comments

The Glasshouse is a luxury experience with a difference, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life while situated right in the heart of one of the busiest.

Stephen Halliday

Rooms start from £200, including breakfast. The Glasshouse Hotel, 2 Greenside Place, Edinburgh EH1 3AA. 0131-525 8200. www.theglasshousehotel.co.uk