Damon and I enjoyed a one night stay in the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian Hotel. We’ve stayed in the hotel, based in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, a couple of times. This trip was based around a 5 course tasting menu at the Pompadour restaurant on the hotel’s mezzanine floor.
We stayed in a King Premier Room on one occasion and the Billy Garioch Suite on another. This time, we were upgraded to a One Bedroom Suite (The St John Suite - Room 66) so we’ll be reviewing that in this article, along with the hotel’s amenities and restaurants.
A Brief History Of The Hotel
The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian is a historic hotel which first opened its doors back in 1903. Initially, the hotel was part of the Princes Street Railway Station. You can see remnants of this in the existing building. The three original stone arches, now acting as the hotels’ entryway, used to act as the gateway to the station complex. The station’s clock now hangs on the wall of the Peacock Alley lounge which used to be the station’s main concourse and ticket office.
Hilton International acquired the hotel, known as ‘The Caledonian’ at the time, in 2000. And, after a refurbishment in 2011, it became part of Hilton’s luxury Waldorf Astoria brand.
The hotel is perfectly situated at the west end of Princes Street in Edinburgh.
Due to its central location, there are a tonne of activities, shops and restaurants in walking distance:
The city centre is extremely well connected by public transport. Here are some options:
Edinburgh Waverly offers direct train services north towards Dundee and Aberdeen, west towards Glasgow and south towards London. From Edinburgh Waverly Station head to an exit north onto Princes Street. Then simply walk west along Princes Street. You will see the hotel in the distance (1.3km or 16 min walk). You can book these services through Trainline.
The Edinburgh Trams run from Edinburgh Airport (EDI), west of the city, to York Place near the eastern end of Princes Street. The closest stop to the Waldorf is the West End stop (around 30 mins from the airport). From here, the hotel is only a short walk east (400m or 5 min walk).
By Car (Plus Parking)
This is likely the most expensive option. The hotel is around a 20-25 min drive east from Edinburgh Airport (EDI). The best way to the hotel is via West Approach Road, before turning left onto Lothian Road (hotel on your left hand side, castle on your right). From there, turn left onto Rutland Street where you will find the hotels main entrance.
A concierge will be there to meet you, take your bags and valet park your car. This is the only kind of parking they offer on premises and it’s not cheap (£25 per day, fixed rate). The concierge will hold onto your car keys, unless you ask otherwise. You are free to leave and return to the hotel for valet parking as many times as you like. There is no extra charge for this.
There is self parking at the NCP Edinburgh Castle Terrace Car Park nearby (300m or 4 min walk) which is more expensive. However, since there is limited parking at the hotel, you may have to park here. If this is the case, the hotel will validate your parking ticket and reduce the rate down to match the hotels at £25 per day.
UberX, Uber XL and Exec are all available for use in Edinburgh city centre and from Edinburgh airport (EDI).
Use our UBER code: andrewy2730ue or sign up here to get a free ride.
We arrived at the hotel around 2pm. Official check-in is 3pm but the hotel staff offered us an upgrade from a King Premier Room with Castle View (Room 400 - 30 sq. metres) to a One Bedroom Suite also with Castle View (Room 66 - St John Suite - 80 sq. metres).
This was offered due to Damon’s diamond Hilton status which entitled us to an upgrade, at maximum, to a one bedroom suite. We did attempt to get an upgrade to the Alexander Graham Bell Suite (Room 106 - 88 sq. metres) but, as we expected (and in line with Hilton’s policy) this attempt was met with failure. Always worth a shot.
Check-in was swift and the hotel staff were very courteous.
One Bedroom Suite With Castle View
The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh has over 240 rooms, including a variety of suites. We are reviewing a One Bedroom Suite with Castle View on this occasion. More specifically, the St John Suite (room 66).
At 80 sq. metres, the suite had a separate bedroom, living room, entryway, bathroom and changing room (with 2 large wardrobes). The design was traditional but modern and had a wonderful ‘House of Cards’-esque appeal to it. The large arching window in the living room was a unique reminder of the hotels history but the space did suffer from a lack of natural light because of this.
Whilst you could see the castle from both rooms, the best view was from the large bedroom window which also made the space the lighter of the two. And whilst the design of the room was top notch, I would say there were some parts that could do with some attention. Namely cracked paint, chipped glass and the bathroom door which took a bit of force to shut.
If you were looking for somewhere to sit, you certainly had plenty of options. In the living area, there was a large comfortable corner couch next to the window, plus a desk and three separate chairs.
There was a second desk (plus chair) in the bedroom, two armchairs with stools (the stools were more comfortable than the chairs which was odd). And there was an ottoman which sat at the foot of the large king bed. The bed and the pillows were quite firm which was surprising for the standard price of the room (valued at over £900 the night we stayed).
I don’t think you could run out of storage space in this room if you tried. A separate changing room had two large inbuilt wardrobes with plenty of hangars and a luggage rack.
The bedroom had drawer space under the television, on both sides of the bed and in the desk. If you needed it, there was a second desk with drawers in the living room and a side table.
Again, plenty of charging points. In terms of standard UK power socks, there were 2 in the entrance foyer, 2 behind a chair and 2 on the desk in the living room. There was 1 available socket on the desk in the bedroom and there were 2 USB ports in the alarm clock on the left hand side of the bed (bed-facing). There were no available plugs apart from that on either side of the bed. But there was 2 additional plug points on the wall in the changing room.
There were 2 additional plug points on the wall in the changing room.
The in-room amenities included 2 Samsung HDTVs with Freeview channels. There was one in the living room and one in the bedroom which was the larger of the two. There was a hairdryer, an iron (plus ironing board), a safe and a shoe shine kit in the wardrobe in the changing room. This is also where you’ll find the laundry list/form if you want to use this service. I would recommend against this due to the price.
You could also find a sewing kit in the bedroom desk drawer.
A kettle could be found in the cupboard under the TV in the lounge. The tray it was placed on came with breakfast tea, green tea, instant hot chocolate, sugar, sweetener, UHT milk pots and 2 shortbread rounds.
If you’re into coffee, the one bedroom suite won’t disappoint as it comes with a Nespresso coffee maker and 6 Nespresso coffee capsules.
We left the room for around 5 minutes after we had checked in to go for a wander around. When we returned, we found a nice surprise waiting on the coffee table. A free bottle of red Merlot wine and 2 glasses. We’re still not sure if this is common or not. We told the hotel staff that we were staying to celebrate an early valentines day so this might be the reason why.
Temperature was a problem during our stay. There were 2 separate temperature controls (one for the living room and one for the bedroom). Despite leaving the temperature on maximum (28°C/82°F) for around 4 hours, the room didn’t really heat up.
We think this was due to a a few reasons. Firstly, the suite had 2 large windows which were both single glazed. The outside temperature during our stay hovered around 4°C (39°F). The space is wide with high ceilings so it does make it quite difficult to heat (especially when it’s cold outside).
Secondly, we don’t think the heating system was blowing out very warm air. We phoned down to reception and an engineer was sent up, along with 2 radiators. We didn’t want it becoming a whole ordeal so we just took the radiators. They worked ok but the room was never really warm at any point.
The WiFi in this hotel was very impressive. I was getting download speeds averaging 34.5 Mbps and upload speeds averaging 60.3 Mbps.
The room was perfectly clean. Since we only stayed for one night, we didn’t experience the standard housekeeping service but the hotel did offer a turndown service. We were in the room at the time so the maid just handed us 2 complimentary Waldorf chocolates along with a breakdown of the weather forecast for tomorrow. Both nice touches.
The bathroom was a substantial size with a freestanding bath tub, shower and 2 separate sinks. This was arguably the most modern part of the suite. Beautifully designed in white marble with modern fixtures. The shower pressure was nice and high and there were no problems with the water temperature. That being said, as I mentioned previously, there were a few issues. The bathroom door didn’t close properly unless you really forced it shut and the bath handle came off as soon as I went to turn it on.
The bathroom came with an ample selection of soft, plush, white towels. These included 4 bath towels, 3 hand towels, 4 face towels and a bathroom rug. It was in this room you could also find 2 dressing gowns and 2 sets of slippers.
The bathroom was equipped with 2 electric shaving points, a bathroom scale and a good selection of full-sized Tuscan Soul - Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries: Face/bath soap bars, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion.
Hilton also included some of their own brand toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shower cap, razor and shaving foam.
Pool, Gym and Spa
The pool/fitness area is located on the ground floor and is accessible from a separate elevator located on the 1st and mezzanine levels. On entering, hotel guests are required to sign the guest log book. This is where you can book a spa appointment at the Guerlain Spa (note: the only one in the UK). We usually don’t attend spas and the high price point made this one less enticing.
The pool and gym areas are both large. The gym is well equipped with cardio/resistance machines and free weights. The pool was peaceful and ideal for doing laps, however we were let down by the fact the Jacuzzi was out of service. There was a steam room and sauna available for use as well.
The staff were pleasant, friendly and helpful. There were no issues on this front.
There are 4 places to eat/drink on property. The Galvin Brasserie De Luxe, The Pompadour, Peacock Alley and The Caley Bar.
Dinner - The Pompadour By Galvin
The Pompadour is the hotels upscale restaurant on the mezzanine floor with views over Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle. We were gifted a 5 course tasting menu with matching wines for Christmas and we based the hotel stay around this meal. Overall, the meal fell short of our expectations.
We were seated at one of the best tables in the venue, a window table with a view of the castle. There are only really two tables with this view and they only seat two people each. All of the other window tables look out over Princes Street.
Having sat down around 7:15pm, we were given a complimentary glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne each. The staff member commented that this was because our initial reservation had been cancelled and rearranged, a nice token that we both appreciated.
The meal began with three canapés, followed by some sour dough bread. Whilst they were well presented, they lacked a real depth of flavour. There was also a large gap between each of these servings which felt slightly unnecessary due to the small portion sizes.
Our first real course, raw Scottish Mackerel, didn’t get to the table before 8pm. Damon enjoyed this course more than I did as it was a raw fish dish, of which I’m not the biggest fan. Next up was a potato course consisting of 4 different types of potato. This was one of the odder courses as it didn’t seem to fit in with the extravagant restaurant pricing (it was literally potatoes).
Course number 3 was confit veal tongue, yeasted cauliflower and capers. This course was tasty, but again, it appeared as though the restaurant favoured the peculiar over the tasty when it came to its meat selection.
At the start of the meal, we chose between a meat and a fish dish for our main course. Damon chose the fish, a pulse braised dory and I chose the meat, a pigeon and black truffle wellington. The pigeon, which also came with a risotto side dish, was much more substantial than the dory. Both proteins were flavourful but the pigeon had a tough texture and was hard to cut. Again, it seemed a case of choosing a protein for the sake of difference over taste. Neither of us liked the taste of the accompaniments either. Both the risotto and the salsify had a bitter flavour.
Our final course consisted of a blood orange parfait with chocolate. There were a range of different textures but the overall flavour was lacking.
The 5 main courses came with matching wines. And the Pompadour has an in house sommelier who paired the wines with each course. I have to say, neither of us are big wine drinkers so I don’t think we really appreciated the effort they had gone to. During the meal we tended to stick with the glass that we simply preferred the taste of.
Throughout the meal, the service was friendly but slow. The room was well appointed with plush furnishings in the style of a French salon. But, at the end of the day, the main purpose of a meal like this is to enjoy the food. No amount of beautiful decor or service can compensate for that.
Breakfast - The Galvin Brasserie De Luxe
Breakfast was served between 6:30am and 10:30am in The Galvin Brasserie De Luxe, Monday through Sunday. We strolled down to breakfast around 9:30am Monday morning and were seated immediately at a table for 2 in the middle of the room. I picked up a free Financial Times on the way, always a plus in my books. I ordered a decaf tea and then went for a wander around the buffet.
There was a vast selection of hot and continental breakfast items on offer: a Full Scottish Breakfast; waffles with accompaniments; breads, muffins and pastries; cheese, cold meats and fish; fruits, yoghurts and cereal; a gluten free trolley; other hot items that could be ordered from the kitchen; and there was even a Bloody Mary table.
I cannot fault them on the breadth of their selection but I will say a few of the hot food items were a little dry. Particularly the Lorne sausages and the waffles.
Breakfast was included with our booking due to Damon’s diamond Hilton status. If breakfast was not included, we would not have eaten here. Despite the good selection on offer, the buffet price point is pretty extravagant at £25 per head.
In all, the breakfast was one of the highlights of our stay. If it’s included, enjoy it. If it’s not, I would go elsewhere.
Conclusion and Scoring
We had a wonderful overnight stay in this hotel. We managed to push back checkout to 2pm so we made the most of the facilities and the amenities that the hotel had to offer. The St John Suite (One Bedroom Suite - Room 66) was wonderfully appointed and most of the issues we mentioned were minor and could be easily fixed by the hotel going forward.
Dinner in the Pompadour could have been better but the breakfast selection was excellent.
The location of the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh is second to none and we would definitely recommend a stay in this hotel. One of the best hotels in Edinburgh, especially if you’re a Hilton Honours Gold/Diamond member eligible for an upgrade to a suite.
What are your thoughts on the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments section down below.