BACKGROUND Open since 1985, the Sheraton Grand hotel and spa completed a refurbishment of its guestrooms and public areas in April. It is one of 14 flagship Sheraton properties worldwide that have received a share of a US$350 million renovation fund in recent years. The improvements are part of a brand-wide revamp that saw US$6 billion injected into Sheraton hotels between 2008 and 2011.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? On pulling into the drive, the hotel’s exterior does not make much of an impact – but the service does. The three doormen on hand were extremely attentive and helpful and, once through the glass doors, check-in took only a few moments – impressive considering I arrived the night before the hotel’s official reopening and the lobby was packed. The quality of the new interiors is immediately evident – the wide, open lobby has glossy black granite floors, rich wood walls and a central atrium with illuminated gold-effect pillars and a huge glass chandelier.
Though airy and modern in feel, there are traditional touches, such as leather rocking chairs on a tartan rug by an open fire. A room divider separates the lobby from the [email protected] area, where guests can use computers and free wifi, or lounge on the sofas and order drinks. It’s a handy addition considering most guests at the hotel have to pay for internet access. Past here, a glass and steel stairwell leads down one level to the restaurant and bar.
WHERE IS IT? By Festival Square, a ten-minute drive from Edinburgh’s mainline Waverley rail station and a ten-minute walk from Haymarket station and shopping hub Princes Street.
ROOM FACILITIES The entry-level Classic rooms are 26-27 sqm in size, the Castle View rooms are 28-30 sqm, Club and Castle View Club rooms are 30 sqm, suites are 48-49 sqm and the Grand Suite, which sleeps four, is 118 sqm. I stayed in a Castle View room, though I only had a partial view of the lofty ancient building, and Festival Square below. It was modern in feel, with clean lines and a dark wood floor. It felt spacious owing to the clever bathroom design – an opaque glass-walled space that draws light from the windows through to the entrance. All bathrooms have Sheraton-branded amenities, a separate tub and shower, a pale stone finish and changing-coloured lights. These were a nice touch but didn’t provide a great deal of light and I had trouble returning to a normal setting once the glowing technicolour was in full swing (when in doubt, use the light switches by the bed, which control the whole room).
The water pressure in the walk-in shower was rather weak and it took a while to heat up. All rooms have 37-inch flatscreen TVs, free mineral water, tea and coffee facilities, iron and ironing boards, fluffy robes and slippers, spacious work areas, media hubs with international sockets, Sheraton’s king Sweet Sleeper beds and wired and wireless internet (£13 per 24 hours). Club rooms and suites come with free internet, access to the Escape at One spa and to the seventh-floor Club lounge, where a complimentary breakfast, all-day drinks and snacks, and alcoholic beverages and canapés (5.30pm-7.30pm) are served.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS One Square is the hotel’s bar and restaurant, with a separate entrance directly off Festival Square. It has both formal and casual dining areas. The menu is decidedly local, with cullen skink (a thick soup made of smoked fish and potatoes), cock-a-leekie and Orkney Gold sirloin making an appearance. A buffet breakfast and afternoon tea are also served here, and the bar serves 40 types of gin.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Eight meeting rooms – five of which can be divided in two – make up the hotel’s 1,500 sqm second-floor convention space. The largest, the Edinburgh suite, seats 500 delegates for dinner, while the other venues range from 20-capacity boardrooms to the 120-capacity Stirling room. All are elegant spaces with natural daylight.
LEISURE FACILITIES All guests can access the fifth-floor gym, which has Technogym equipment, and the top-floor 19-metre pool, but those in room categories below Club have to pay £30 to access the Escape at One spa, which has 16 treatment rooms, a thermal suite and an open-air rooftop hydropool.
VERDICT The tasteful renovation and Club facilities makes the Sheraton a great option for business travellers, but it’s the service that really makes this property stand out.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 268 in total, of which 146 are Classic, 62 are Castle View, 33 are Club rooms, 16 are Club Castle rooms, ten are suites and one is the two-bedroom Grand Suite.
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The view of the castle, the comfy bed and spacious, stylish bathroom.
- PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in September started from £185 for a Classic room.
- CONTACT Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh, 1 Festival Square; tel +44 (0)131 229 9131; sheratonedinburgh.co.uk