There’s a table full of Scottish shortbread cookies (and healthy apples) that I was drawn to in the lobby at check in – I knew I was going to like it here. Here was the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa located in Festival Square. My trip was a quick one with only a three night stay at the hotel which would be just enough time to explore the city and beyond for highlights of Scotland. Using my SPG points, this was an award stay and while usually the hotel is 10k points a night, my rate was 40k for the 3 nights (about 13.3k) which was still a good deal for me over the May bank holiday (and marathon) weekend when rates were higher than normal.
Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Hotel Location in Festival Square
Festival Square turned out to be a great base for my stay as I love to walk everywhere. Shopping on Princes Street and the local parks were a quick 5-10 minute walk while Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile was 15-20 minutes (uphill and stairs take time depending on your cardio levels). While the hotel faced the castle, it was not an easy walk straight. The hotel is in front of the conference center and across from the movie theatres, live performance hall and has many restaurants (mostly chains which are good), pubs and a Tesco nearby.
Edinburgh Sheraton Arrival & Front Desk
The cab pulled into a private entrance off of the street and was met by the bellman who welcomed me to the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. If I had any doubts where I was, he was dressed in a kilt so I was most definitely in Scotland. He asked me my name as we walked inside as he took my bag. I was directed to the front desk and he introduced me to the front desk staff for the handover and check in. I had requested an early check in of noon as I was arriving on the overnight flight from Philly which connected in London so I hadn’t slept but really just needed a shower to wake up. The front desk was very friendly to welcome me, explain the hotel features and the surrounding area. When asked if this was my first visit, I said “I was here over twenty years ago so essentially it’s all new to me again”. My key card was then handed over as I was told that I was upgraded to the SPG preferred floor and given an Edinburgh Castle view – two bonuses for me. The front desk staff were extremely friendly and chatty during my stay.
Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Lobby Area
At most hotels, the lobby is where the action is, however at the Edinburgh Sheraton, its mostly used as a meeting spot, business center and for the front desk and concierge. The exit is to the driveway so most guests will use the 2nd floor exit/entrance to Festival Square to access the main road, transportation and begin their trek outside. With that, I only visited the lobby when my tours picked me up and of course to stock up on the complimentary butter biscuits that welcomed me to the hotel.
The décor and layout was quite nice as the Sheratons are upping their game in my opinion, a long way away from the boring beige that I tend to associate with a Sheraton. The lobby had the Link Business Center, a television seating area, an open seating area, a lovely art collection and a private whisky tasting area roped off that day for a special tour group.
Edinburgh Sheraton Grand King Room on the SPG Preferred Floor
The elevators require a key swipe to access guest sleeping floors. I would be on the 6th floor of the seven story hotel. My room was close to the elevator bank (four rooms away) but I was only bothered by noise on one morning as loud people were walking by. The hallway rug was a relaxing brown plaid, an ode to the kilt.
As I entered the room, it was definitely surprising in a good way. My Sheraton expectations were definitely exceeded just like in London at the Sheraton Park Lane. The Edinburgh Sheraton room had wooden floors, a rug feature around the bed and a view of the castle up on the hill.
On the left, I had the master room switches, closets of storage (plus slippers and robes) and drawers for the minibar and coffee maker. Impressive was the drawer of glasses similarly featured as they are at the Westin Sydney. So obviously the designers are borrowing cool features from other hotels.
The flat screen television welcomed me to the hotel and the desk was large to work on with a comfortable leather chair. The room also included a seating area along the windows.
My view did in fact include the Edinburgh Castle up on the hill so that was cool, the downside to facing the front of the square was the noise below from the bar and outside folks from the wedding party one night. Other than that it was quiet as no events were planned in the square during my stay (definitely check during your visit).
The King bed was a Sheraton Sleeper bed, which like the Westin’s Heavenly Bed, is a hotel bedding product that provides a wonderful sleep experience. The wall behind the bed was mirrored which helped make the room feel bigger. The room darkening drapes did allow some light in the room (not much) from above where they were not flush to the wall. Next to the bed, each side had room controls, a side table and light.
The hotel participates in the SPG Green Program offering 1,000 points to forgo daily maid service. With a quick stay, I was happy to participate, collect my points and reuse my towels and sheets. The only downside is that the SPG Preferred complimentary bottles of water weren’t refilled each day. The front desk said that they would send me bottles water if I wanted.
Tempted as I was to just fall into bed and sleep after the long journey, I chose to experience the shower instead so I could find food and explore the city. I could sleep later.
The Edinburgh Sheraton Grand King Room Bathroom
A somewhat open plan bathroom with frosted glass, the bathroom was quite impressive but also a bit dark (note: makeup application was tricky). There is a bathtub with loofah, a stall shower, toilet room and sink area with shelving underneath. The toiletries are standard Sheraton, which are fine but not that great (or chipmunk worthy). Here is where the Sheraton could use an upgrade in presentation and experience. An interesting feature was the door swung close to either the toilet room or the bathroom.
Sadly, one area that was disappointing was one of my major hotel pet peeves – the hair dryer bolted inside the desk drawer. I absolutely hate this – love the hair dryer but please set it free!
The Concierge Team at the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Hotel
A week before my stay, I contacted the Concierge team for suggestions on what to do and where to eat. A member of the team quickly answered me with a plethora of options. When I asked to know more about tour operators and destinations, another team member replied with two preferred providers and his opinion to avoid Loch Ness tour as its all day on the bus with little time off the bus. As I had done this a long time ago and the monster wasn’t seen then, I had no interest in a long bus ride again so I chose a different tour – one to the Highlands with Timberbush Tours (note: I booked the tour on the vendor website, but to get picked up at the hotel, the concierge needs to make the reservation. They modified for me when I arrived and it was nice to have a hotel pickup/drop off and save time).
On site the team was great to book my Edinburgh Castle ticket which allowed me to walk up to the entrance and skip the ticket line. I also was given recommendations for my St. Andrew’s visit as to the best fish/chips and bakery in town (subjective obviously). The Concierge team was definitely a highlight at the hotel.
One Square Restaurant & Bar at the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Hotel
Breakfast is served on the 2nd floor at One Square Restaurant. There is a buffet as well as ala carte offerings. Arranged in a separate space, there is juice/smoothies on one table, fruit on another. The hot bar of breakfast foods is in a U shape with a chef making omelets. On the other side of the room is the bread table which included gluten free bread and cereal bar.
When the hostess walked me through the buffet room before seating me, I mentioned I am gluten and dairy free so could I skip the bar and order ala carte. She was fabulous to ask what I wanted and charge accordingly. I said I just wanted two over easy eggs, a side of bacon and some pineapple. The buffet cost over £20, my breakfast was £6. Given that a glass of juice is usually £6 or more, I was quite happy with this reasonable and logical pricing. The next day when I arrived and there was a host, I said my name and room and he said “your dietary restrictions are noted”. As someone who has had to order the buffet and overpay at hotels, this was seriously a delight. While I was thinking of brunch at a local restaurant, I really couldn’t beat £6 so I ate at the hotel each morning to save money and time.
Dinner in the One Square bar/lounge let me choose from the fancy One Square menu (Steaks, Duck, etc.) or the lighter bar menu. Both menus have the One Square burger which is a signature dish made in house, so I decided to see if they were as good as touted. The lounge is a pretty design feature with glass lighting, purple chaise loungers, lime fabric chairs and accent colors and features. It felt more relaxing than the One Square Restaurant dining area that I was eating breakfast each morning.
Choosing a table by the window inside, I was offered bar snacks which I declined while waiting on my burger, chunky chips (fries) and side of green beans with almonds (had to add something healthy). I didn’t realize how hungry I was but I ate the entire meal – bun included (so much for my gluten free stint). It was quite a satisfying meal and tasty – Scottish beef has a different flavor than what we are used to in the U.S.
At the time, the lounge was quiet for a Saturday night until the wedding parties spilled out of the event space on the floor. On previous nights, the bar, lounge and patio were packed during happy hour and later into the night.
One Spa & Fitness Center
The hotel has a separate large facility for spa treatments and the fitness center. It is in a separate building next to the hotel which can be accessed on the connector bridge from the hotel or via an entrance at lobby level outside in the arrivals driveway. I didn’t have enough time to book a treatment and since I was walking for hours each day, opted to forgo using the fitness center.
Overall – the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa
I had a lovely stay at the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand and would definitely stay here again when in Edinburgh. It was in a great location to walk from, the staff were very attentive and friendly and the room was comfortable. My view of “what is a Sheraton” has definitely evolved in Europe and based on this visit and my London stay, I would consider more Sheraton stays in the future. It seems that the Sheraton brand is evolving into an affordable luxury category with modern design and elevated experience, a far cry from the boring budget beige that I’ve long associated with the brand. The Edinburgh Sheraton was quite “Grand” after all.