If you’re looking for a truly special experience for your accommodations, the hotels in Edinburgh will blow you away. Many places in the world have unique characteristics to their hotels and other forms of lodging, but Edinburgh stands out as one of my favorites.
Building in a UNESCO World Heritage City
There are many cities around the world with a UNESCO World Heritage designation. Some examples include Vienna, Rome, Bath, Luang Prabang, Krakow and Mostar. When a city gets a UNESCO label, it severely limits any changes to the city.
On top of this, many countries have huge restrictions on modifying a building that has historical significance. Usually, you aren’t allowed to affect the structure in any way, including putting nails into the walls, adding electricity or plumbing, etc.
Between the two, it’s almost impossible to build a new hotel or modernize an old structure in these cities. Edinburgh is no exception. The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh received UNESCO World Heritage status back in 1995. Most of the buildings are centuries old, although a massive amount of work has been done to restore, preserve and upgrade the buildings without violating their integrity. In 1824, a great fire destroyed a good portion of the Old Town and it was rebuilt in the Victorian style, and a new mall is going into the New Town, but otherwise, the city is mostly unchanged.
An interesting exception to this is on the Grassmarket below Edinburgh castle. In 1916, two German zeppelins dropped bombs on Edinburgh. No major landmarks were destroyed and even the castle was missed. On one of my walking tours, I was told that the two modern Apex Hotels that line the street replaced old hotels that were damaged in the raid, but I can’t actually find any information online to substantiate this claim.
Restoring an Old Hotel
Recently, I had the pleasure of staying at the Nira Caledonia Hotel in the New Town, not far from the house of the Scottish Prime Minister. There, I got to learn about the difficulties the hotel went through in following local codes while also providing a modern and comfortable experience.
In 2018, the hotel suffered water damage after a careless worker caused a fire on the roof and allowed Edinburgh’s ever-present rains to flow down through the whole building. Renovations were carried out to remove the water damage and make the hotel even more wonderful, but there were limits.
For instance, the past two years have seen a pretty staggering range of temperatures in Edinburgh. When I lived here over the winter, temperatures got as low as -8°C, although between the windchill and humidity, the forecast said it felt like -14! Not a lot compared to other places, but extreme for Edinburgh’s usual climate. On the other hand, a couple of heatwaves in the past couple years have set records across the UK, not to mention the rest of Europe.
While the Nira Caledonia flat radiators along the walls in all the rooms for cold days, there’s not a lot they can do about the heat. The wiring or air ducts needed for air conditioners can’t be installed. I would hardly consider this a disadvantage, as it’s only a couple days out of the year that this would actually be needed, and an open window will take care of the rest of the warm days.
Other upgrades like double-paned windows, A/V equipment and such are similarly out of the question. However, the hotel went to town where it could upgrade. This is most noticeably apparent in the bathroom, where the jacuzzi tub and rainfall shower are fully stocked with L’Occitane bathroom products.
Staying at the Nira Caledonia Hotel
Sadly, my significant other couldn’t join me on my visit this trip (but I really hope I can make it back there someday with her). As such, my stay became more of a business trip. However, I did make use of the bath – something I’ve done very rarely in my travels.
I’m not the biggest fan of using a TV in a hotel, but the Nira Caledonia does have a flat-panel in all the rooms available for use. There’s a phone if needed, and all the charging outlets and USB ports you could need. The chair was also super comfortable for getting some work done in the room.
It’s hard to say it was the best part of my stay since everything was really amazing, but the food available in the restaurant was really fantastic. As with many hotels and restaurants across Scotland, they only use locally sourced products. Along with their menu were listed the four vendors they get their food from.
As much as I wanted a Scottish breakfast, my favorite breakfast in the world, my stomach wasn’t in the best condition and I needed something a bit lighter. On the first day, I had the salmon and eggs, and the second day was a delicious Scottish porridge (cooked in milk).
Aside from the warm breakfast options is a large buffet, including fruits, bread and pastries, fresh yogurts, tea, coffee and different juices. Suffice to say, hotels in Scotland really know how to keep you fed. Out of all the hotels and B&Bs I’ve stayed at in Scotland, I’ve yet to be disappointed with their food spread. I’ve even had Airbnbs serve a delicious Scottish breakfast several times!
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You can’t spend all your time at the Nira Caledonia when you visit Edinburgh. Here are some other activities to fill your day.
- Begin Your Journey in Scotland with a Secret Food Tour in Edinburgh
- What the Da Vinci Code Didn’t Show You About Rosslyn Chapel
- There’s a Cat Cafe in Edinburgh!
- Enjoying the Happiest Place in Scotland at Edinburgh’s Chihuahua Cafe
- Camera Obscura in Edinburgh Brings Out the Kid in You
- Experience the Underground Preservation of Mary King’s Close
- Escape Edinburgh: The Most Fun Activity in Edinburgh’s New Town
- Finding the Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh
- 9 Free Attractions to Visit in Edinburgh
- 10 Activities for The Perfect Day Trip from Edinburgh
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.