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Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian 4.5

City Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Luxury landmark hotel with elegant interiors and original features
  • Centrally located between Edinburgh's old and new towns
  • Spacious, sophisticated rooms with high-end amenities
  • Some rooms feature views of Edinburgh Castle
  • Several eating and drinking choices, including fine dining
  • Reknowned afternoon tea service at Peacock Alley
  • Indoor swimming pool with poolside whirlpool tub
  • Top-notch Guerlain Spa and a fitness center
  • Turndown service, shoe shines, and business services (some with fees)
  • Multiple meeting rooms, with space for up to 250 guests
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • Breakfast doesn't get the best marks for quality or service
  • Some rooms prone to traffic noise
  • Wi-Fi is patchy in some areas
  • Room decor worn in places

Bottom Line

The Caledonian is a 241-room, luxury landmark hotel that reopened in 2012 after a major makeover by the Waldorf Astoria chain. Its location is great for exploring both new and old town Edinburgh, with both Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle only minutes away on foot. Rooms are spacious and stylish, combining modern and classic decor, and some even feature views of the famous castle, but there are occasional signs of wear and tear. There's also a spa with a fitness center and pool, plus multiple dining and drinking outlets. While the Caledonian is one of the finest hotels in the city (with a price tag to match), travelers may also want to consider the Balmoral Hotel, which is not quite as chic but is located next to the train station.

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Scene

Grand landmark railway hotel reopened under international luxury brand

With its handsome red-sandstone facade, elegant arches, and majestic Corinthian columns topped with neo-classical statuary, there's no mistaking upon arrival that the Caledonian is a hotel with more than a little class. Stepping into the reception area -- formerly the original station's concourse and ticket office -- fresh neutral tones create an understated, timeless elegance. Gray marble pillars flank the grand staircase, which is lined with banisters in heavy wrought iron and warm polished wood, while stained glass windows and other original touches add a sense of the building's history. Constructed over the turn of the 20th century as part of Edinburgh Princes Street railway station, "the Caley" (as it is known among Edinburgh residents) first opened its doors in 1903. More recently, it underwent a major multi-million-dollar renovation and reopened in 2012 as a member of the Waldorf Astoria family -- having taken a few design cues from the Waldorf Astoria New York. While remaining popular with corporate guests, who can frequently be seen hunched over laptops in the lobby, the hotel draws mostly couples on a romantic getaways and well-heeled tourists on city breaks. Former guests have included Sean Connery and Nelson Mandela.

Location

Overlooking busy junction at the start of Edinburgh's bustling Princes Street

The hotel overlooks a busy intersection that marks the old city from the new town in the heart of Edinburgh. The surrounding area bustles with bars, theaters, shopping centers, boutiques, nightclubs, and restaurants of every type and origin. Set on the edge of famous Princes Street, it's a few minutes' walk to the foot of iconic Edinburgh Castle, which can be seen from many vantage points inside the hotel. The University of Edinburgh is a 15-minute walk from the hotel as is the National Museum of Scotland. One of the more popular sights in the city is the view from Arthur's Seat, which will take 10 minutes to reach by car, followed by an uphill hike. Alternatively, the trek can be completed in about an hour from the hotel's front door. The city's main train station, Edinburgh Waverley, is a 15-minute walk or five-minute cab ride (and just beyond are the cobbled streets of the famous Royal Mile), while Edinburgh Airport is about a 15- to 20-minute drive. 

Rooms

Stylish rooms with blend of modern and classic styles plus marble bathrooms

The Caledonian has 241 spacious rooms and suites, all done in a combination of modern and classic details that create handsome places to rest and recharge. Most are decorated in cool grays, with turn-of-the-century-style seating plus hardwood furniture in both dark and oak finishes. We particularly love glam accents like the gold-and-black patterned wallpaper border that runs around the perimeter of the Premium Double Room that we visited. Wainscoting adds a refined touch, and eclectic collections of bright pictures add a further contemporary touch to the rooms. The result is classically chic and urbane, though a few shortcomings in maintenance means the occasional signs of wear and tear. Suites tend to be more traditional in style, and include some genuine antiques. Amenities include Nespresso machines, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs with pay movies, though Wi-Fi can be patchy. Turndown service is also offered. Bathrooms are marble clad, with walk-in showers, bathrobes, and luxury products. Some rooms feature superb views of Edinburgh Castle, however others can be prone to traffic noise.

Features

Choice of dining options, excellent spa and gym, and an indoor pool

Given its status in Edinburgh, it's not surprising that this hotel packs in the features. The bulk of what's on offer centers around drinking and dining. Unfortunately, while the hotel serves an expensive breakfast every day in its Parisian-style brasserie, the reviews are mixed, with complaints about everything from quality to service. The Peacock Alley lounge provides a particularly attractive space to enjoy a drink or casual meal, while the Pompadour provides a fine-dining menu of classical French cooking -- in elegant surroundings. The afternoon tea service in Peacock Alley is particularly popular, and there's also the buzzing Caley Bar, which is frequented by locals.

Somewhat surprising for a historic, city-center hotel, the wellness facilities here are fairly extensive. The hotel is also home to the U.K.'s only Guerlain Spa, which specializes in skin care therapy -- particularly popular with brides-to-be. An indoor swimming pool is long enough for laps and there's a poolside whirlpool tub, though there's not much space for lounge chairs. The spa includes a fitness center with modern equipment and personal trainers. Fresh fruit and bottled water are free for guests, and all guests are free to use the pool and gym. 

There are eight meeting rooms, the largest of which can accommodate up to 250 guests, as well as a business center. Weddings are also popular at the hotel and various planning services are available. All manner of services are available, from a dedicated concierge to shoe shines and laundry service. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, and valet parking is available. The hotel can also provide various services for those traveling with children, from kids' movies to high chairs, though some come with fees. 

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Address

Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB, United Kingdom

Also Known As

  • The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

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