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Macdonald Holyrood Hotel 4.0

Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Review Summary

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  • Located steps from Holyrood Park 
  • Many rooms refurbished in 2014; some with Arthur's Seat views
  • Restaurant and bar, plus unconventional high tea with gin 
  • Large heated indoor pool with sauna
  • On-site spa with full menu of services
  • Spacious, fully equipped fitness center
  • Five executive-looking meeting rooms
  • Rooftop terrace with seating
  • Limited on-site parking (for a fee)


  • Restaurant can be pricey
  • Reports of slow service, especially at breakfast
  • Decor is somewhat staid and impersonal
  • A few rooms have parking lot views
  • Some bathrooms are showers only

Bottom Line

The Macdonald Holyrood Hotel is a 156-room upscale property just steps from Holyrood Park and a mile from Edinburgh Castle. Many rooms were refurbished in 2014, and some have great views and include access to a Library Lounge. A large indoor pool and well-appointed spa, along with a chic restaurant and unconventional afternoon tea service -- with gin -- round out this hotel's amenities. The property caters mostly to couples, businesspeople, and tourists looking for a refined atmosphere. Another nearby option could be Radisson Blu Edinburgh, which is situated in a mock-castle.

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Traditional, somewhat staid hotel attracting tourists and business travelers

Everything from the lobby's mottled beige floors and cherrywood paneled walls, to the hallways' dim lighting and purple carpeting gives off a conventional, "no muss, no fuss" vibe. Even the facade, a plain cream-colored concrete, feels rather uninspired. Drawing businesspeople to its multiple meeting rooms, as well as tourists who want to be close to major attractions, the hotel is rather staid, despite its modern amenities -- including a heated indoor pool and luxe spa. There's little here that feels design-conscious. But the atmosphere does become more fashionable in the bar and restaurant -- decorated with chrome lights, gray-patterned wallpaper, silver circular booths, and dashes of signature purple. 


Centrally located near many attractions, though Edinburgh Castle takes 16 minutes by foot

The hotel is centrally located in Old Town, and just a few minutes' walk from most local attractions. Holyrood Park and its famous Arthur's Seat peak -- visible from some rooms --  is one block away. And the Museum of Edinburgh and Scottish Parliament are under 5 minutes away on foot. Other favorite sights are within a mile, or about 15 to 20 minutes' walk, including Princes Street, the Royal Mile, and Regent Gardens. Edinburgh Castle is 16 minutes away by foot, five minutes by car or taxi, or 15 minutes by bus that runs directly every half-hour. Edinburgh Playhouse -- where guests can catch shows before they hit Broadway -- is a 16-minute walk north.


A wide array of sizes and refurbished rooms available, some with park views

In 2014, the hotel refurbished 91 rooms, giving most of them a clean, modern look. However, the dark-gray-and-maroon color scheme, brown-striped curtains, and black-and-white prints on the walls still fit with the buttoned-up and somewhat staid aura reflected in the rest of the hotel. But the decor isn't unpleasant and includes little tartan touches. Rooms range from Classic, sleeping two adults, to Suites with separate living quarters. The refurbished Feature Rooms include access to the Library Lounge, great views, and -- as with the updated Executive Rooms -- powerful showers, plush mattress-toppers, Arran Aromatic toiletries, and free water. All rooms are air-conditioned and have free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea facilities, flat-screen TVs, hairdryers, irons/ironing boards, and desks. Refurbished bathrooms are sleek and shiny, in beige and white tile; some have shower/tub combos and some have showers only. Many rooms overlook nearby Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park, however some rooms overlook car parks or buildings -- guests should confirm views when booking.


Large indoor heated pool, high-tech gym, luxury spa, and Scottish cuisine 

The Rocca restaurant serves Scottish cuisine with an Italian influence for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Locally sourced ingredients are used often for dishes such as wild roasted cod, haddock and chips, lamb loin, and burgers (plus pasta and salads for vegetarians), and a wide array of desserts. There's also a full bar that not only serves up malts, liqueurs, and cocktails, but also snacks and afternoon tea -- with the unusual addition of a pot of Scottish gin. The hotel has a 45-foot heated indoor swimming pool, with windowless walls and somewhat dim lighting. A little sauna is tucked to one side. The spa includes a steam room and sauna, and offers treatments such as facials and massages. There's a modern, fully stocked gym with a fleet of cardio machines, weight machines, kettlebells, free weights, and a water cooler. Five meeting rooms are available for business events. A small rooftop terrace with patio furniture and white planters gives guests a spot to lounge alfresco.

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81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AU, United Kingdom

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