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The Howard 4.5

New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Historic and elegant Georgian property with a central location
  • Posh guest rooms are individually designed and decorated
  • Professional butlers assist with packing/unpacking, personal shopping, and more
  • Exclusive Atholl restaurant seats just 14 for fine dining
  • Morning wake-up beverage service
  • Popular traditional afternoon tea
  • 24-hour room service
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Non-smoking property (a con for some)

Cons

  • Fee for parking
  • No minibar or self-serve tea or coffee in rooms
  • Some rooms have minor housekeeping/maintenance issues
  • Rooms near the stairs get noise from the kitchen and dining room
  • No spa or fitness center

Bottom Line

This 18-room luxury boutique hotel is an elegant, exclusive property set in three Georgian houses on a posh residential street in Edinburgh’s New Town. Upon arrival, guests are enveloped in an aura of traditional sophistication, quality, and service worthy of Downton Abbey. Butler service is included, and the attentive staff will press trousers, shine shoes, do personal shopping, serve afternoon tea en suite, draw baths, and more. Guest rooms are ultra luxurious, with canopy beds and immense marble bathrooms. But some decor could use updating, and there have been occasional housekeeping issues. The elegant restaurant serves modern Scottish cuisine, and pre-dinner drinks are available in the comfortable drawing room. Travelers looking for a deeply historic atmosphere could also try the Witchery by the Castle.

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Scene

Exclusive and elegant, evoking a more civilized time

The Howard is an exclusive boutique hotel located on a quiet residential street in Edinburgh’s New Town. The hotel comprises three Georgian houses that blend seamlessly into the surroundings, with only a discreet brass plaque marking the entrance. The Howard provides an experience of near Downton Abbey-level luxury, with a team of butlers on hand to assist with packing and unpacking, room service, personal shopping, almost anything -- though some services, such as packing, must be requested in advance. The environment evokes an elegant bygone era (with all the expected modern conveniences), with stunning period decor worthy of a stately home. The plaster and woodwork are ornate; the wallpaper is striking; the textiles -- velvets, plaids, and tweeds -- are rich. Soothing music plays in the common areas, and there is a lovely delicate scent to the property and guest rooms. Walls are hung with original oil paintings and antique prints; there is a set of vintage golf clubs leaning jauntily in a corner. The drawing room is an elegant spot for cocktails and conversation, and the restaurant, Atholl, is so exclusive, it's limited to 14 seats in what feels like a private dining room. Stepping into the Howard is stepping into another world, a romantic, privileged one.

Location

A quiet residential street near posh George Street and all major transportation

The Howard is located on a quiet residential street in Edinburgh’s New Town, between the Leith and Stockbridge districts, with nothing to do in the surrounding blocks. Within two minutes’ walk, however, guests will find plenty of restaurants and shops, and posh George Street with its hip clubs and boutiques is a five- to 10-minute walk from the hotel. Waverley train station is a 15-minute walk away, or five minutes via taxi, and Haymarket station is a 15-minutes taxi ride.

Rooms

Romantic and elegant, brimming with luxury -- including butler service

Rooms at The Howard are romantic with an elegant antique vibe. No two are the same, but all are on a grand scale; some even have canopy beds with heavy satin drapes. There are plenty of exquisite details: paper-lined drawers, silver tissue dispensers, and illuminated wardrobes. Despite their antique look, rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, safes, hairdryers, and free Wi-Fi. There are no minibars or self-serve tea or coffee, because a call to the butler will quickly take care of those needs. Note that some butler services, such as packing and unpacking, must be requested in advance. Bathrooms are huge and beautiful, with magnifying mirrors, bidets, bathrobes and slippers, heated towel racks, Penhaligon's toiletries, separate tub and shower stalls (in some), and, in one room, a double jetted tub. Frequent guests may store essentials with the staff for use upon their return. 

Features

Fine dining, whisky tasting, bespoke butlers, and room service

The Howard has a tiny, fine dining restaurant with just 14 seats in what feels like a drawing room from days gone by. In addition to serving modern Scottish cuisine for lunch and dinner, The Atholl serves a tasting menu, as well as an afternoon tea that is popular with tourists and locals alike -- book ahead. Bespoke butlers attend to guests’ needs, including personal shopping, shoe shines, room service, packing, and drawing baths for tired guests. Private whisky tastings and personal shopping appointments at local stores can be arranged by the staff. The bar serves afternoon cocktails and nightcaps in a beautiful drawing room with barrel-shaped walls. Wi-Fi is free, and the hotel has four meeting rooms. 

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Address

34 Great King Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QH, United Kingdom

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