Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse New York JFK Airport
Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class New York to London
Sheraton Edinburgh Grand Hotel & Spa
British Airways Galleries Club Lounge Edinburgh Airport
Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel
ERSTE Premier Lounge Prague Airport
Czech Airlines Business Class Prague to Rome
Alitalia Business Class Lounge Rome Airport
Le Anfore Lounge Rome Airport
Alitalia A330 Magnifica Class (Business Class) Rome to Boston
I had heard that the Sheraton Edinburgh was among the nicest Sheratons out there, so was really excited for our stay.
Revenue rates over New Years were extremely high, as the cheapest flexible rate was 301GPB (~$500USD) per night.
The Sheraton Edinburgh is a Category 5 SPG property, making it 12,000-16,000 points per night. While the hotel was fairly full, as luck would have it there was still availability on points. You’ve gotta love the “no blackout dates” policy that chains like Starwood have. Furthermore, since we were staying for five nights on points, the fifth night was free.
As if that wasn’t good enough of a value already, I had a certificate for 35% off a free nights redemption, which I received as my Platinum renewal gift. So in the end my five night redemption cost me just 33,800 Starpoints, or ~6,760 Starpoints per night. Compared to a revenue rate of ~$500 per night that’s amazing, in my opinion.
Anyway, on the evening of the 30th we took a taxi from the airport to the hotel, which took about 20 minutes and cost ~20GBP.
From the outside the hotel looks fairly old and frankly not that impressive, given the small windows and brick construction.
On the plus side the inside of the hotel was much nicer. Once inside the lobby we were greeted by the bellman and directed to check-in, which was located just inside the lobby to the left.
The hotel was still in a festive spirit and had several gingerbread house displays, including a massive one in the lobby.
Just off the lobby is the business center, with several PCs as well as workstations.
Anyway, there was a queue of about 10 minutes at check-in, and eventually we were helped. While the associate was friendly, he informed us that no upgrades were available. We had three rooms and were all SPG Platinum members, so prior to arriving had taken a look at the available rooms online to see what we may be upgraded to. While we had booked Classic Rooms, the hotel was showing both Castle View Rooms and Club Rooms available online.
At check-in, however, we were informed that the hotel was fully committed and had no upgrades available. We pushed back a bit and mentioned the website still showed several Castle View and Club Rooms available for sale, though the agent said they just weren’t available. After a bit more (friendly) back and forth he said “if you want we can call out the duty manager and he can decide whether he wants to give you these rooms or not.” Okay, now that’s a slightly different story.
So the duty manager was a really nice guy, actually showed us the room inventory, and explained that while they had one club room left, the other rooms were legitimately not available. We were fine with that explanation of course, though he promised to move us after the second night when the hotel would be quieter post-New Years.
We were all assigned rooms on the sixth floor, the second highest floor of the hotel. So we proceeded down the corridor to the elevators.
The hotel was recently remodeled and is gorgeous, especially for a Sheraton. I was assigned room 614, just a few rooms down the hallway from the elevator to the right.
The room wasn’t huge, though nicely and practically furnished. There was an entryway with a large closet to the left and bathroom to the right.
The room featured a really comfortable bed, desk with TV, and a couple of chairs with a coffee table by the window.
By comparison to the rest of the room, the bathroom was massive, and featured a sink, toilet, walk-in shower, and tub. It could be accessed both from the hallway by the entrance and the main part of the room.
The water pressure and temperature control in the shower were good, and the toiletries were brand standard for Sheraton.
In the hallway in front of the bathroom were two complimentary bottles of water and the minibar.
The only real disappointing part of the room was how small the window was, and that it didn’t really have a view.
Before I cover the rest of the stay, I figured I’d also cover the room I was switched to on the third day of my stay, which was a Castle View Room on the sixth floor as well. It was room 611, basically just across the hall from my previous room.
Man, not only were the views gorgeous, but the room was much bigger and brighter thanks to the fact that it had two huge windows. The room was basically furnished in an identical manner, except there was more room to walk around, so everything was spread out a bit more.
The views of Edinburgh Castle were pretty awesome as well.
It’s worth noting that on the whole the Castle View Rooms are bigger than the non-view rooms, so it’s not just the view that’s better, but also the size of the rooms. Below is the floorplan of the sixth floor, and as you can see it’s not just that Castle View Rooms are bigger across the board, but there are some that are bigger than others, and I think I got one of the biggest.
On the same day one of my friends for upgraded to one of the one bedroom suites, room 659.
Near the entrance of the suite was the bathroom, which led into the living room and then the bedroom. The furniture was really quirky and local, which I loved. That being said, I didn’t think the design of the suite was that great. The bathroom was right by the door so wasn’t connected to the bedroom, and the suite also didn’t boast good views.
So if traveling alone I think the Castle View Room would actually be my first choice, especially if you can get one as big as the one I got.
In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, at check-in they mentioned there were 25 SPG Platinum members staying over New Years, so they had set up a temporary club lounge on the second floor.
The room itself was nice and tended to get pretty crowded, so the temporary setup was probably a good idea.
The evening spread wasn’t all that impressive, though. It consisted of cheese, veggies, a bunch of small plates (most of which I didn’t find to be very good), and a couple of hot options. Don’t get me wrong, it’s much better than what you’ll find at a US property, though doesn’t compare with properties like the Sheraton Salzburg in terms of the spread.
I’m not really a breakfast person so don’t have high expectations with breakfast as long as there’s fruit and a cappuccino. In this case the spread was fairly good for a club lounge with cereal, fruit, pastries, yogurt, etc.
Over New Years they even let club guests have complimentary breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, One Square.
The breakfast spread there was much more substantial than in the club lounge, though as I said above I’m not much of a breakfast person, and definitely not much of a British breakfast person. I don’t like having meat, runny eggs, or 16 pounds of bread for breakfast, which seemed to make up 95% of the buffet.
It’s interesting to note that the hotel is connected to One Spa Edinburgh via a corridor on the fifth floor, so hotel guests can use the gym there. However, only guests staying in club rooms and suites get access to the spa itself (SPG Platinum status in and of itself isn’t enough). Hotel guests in non-club rooms can purchase access, I believe for something like 30-35GBP per person.
So this isn’t just some small hotel spa, but easily one of the biggest and most impressive spas I’ve ever been in. They had a massive outdoor/indoor hydrotherapy pool, an indoor lap pool, and more sauna and steam rooms than I could count. Unfortunately photos aren’t allowed in the spa, but trust me when I say it’s impressive.
Here’s a short promotional video of the spa (unfortunately I didn’t see the models when I was there!):
I have to say that almost across the board the staff at the hotel were spectacular. Stuart, the concierge, was incredibly engaging and took as much interest in what we were seeing as we did. The Sheraton also has a very good location within Edinburgh, just a short walk to Edinburgh Castle and The Royal Mile.
Also, I just loved Edinburgh — it’s possibly one of my favorite cities in Europe now. I didn’t have super-high expectations, but was blown away. Definitely one of the better kept secrets in Europe that I can’t wait to return to again soon. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on that…