Edinburgh is a fantastic city and one that we have visited previously. However, and I’ll be honest, it was a weekend with friends to watch the rugby, drink an obscene amount of beer and cheer on our team. Therefore, we did not get to fully experience the city and see what wonders it has to offer. So, when we were invited to stay at the luxury boutique award winning Nira Caledonia hotel, which is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to become fully fledged tourists and wander the streets until our feet hurt, which is our usual m.o. when it comes to city breaks. But we quickly realised that the charming Nira Caledonia is one of the most exquisite hotels we have ever stayed at, which made actually leaving the room extremely tough.
The Nira Caledonia is a grand hotel housed in two stunning Georgian townhouses, it certainly gives a great first impression. We arrived at the Nira Caledonia three days after its grand reopening. Unfortunately, one of the houses was severely damaged by a fire, meaning the restaurant and bar area together with a number of the bedrooms and suites were out of action for a period of time. Therefore, with the smell of fresh paint in the air everyone was finding their feet in the newly opened side of the property and doing a great job may I add.
As the buildings are listed, it does mean that some things cannot be added or changed. Therefore, there isn’t a lift at the property. It wasn’t a problem for us even though we were staying on the second floor; however, if you plan on staying here and have a mobility issue, I’d call the hotel directly to talk through your options before making a booking as they have a number of different rooms on different floors available. Plus it’s more than likely that you will get a better room rate then you would if booking through a third party or travel agent.
The Nira Caledonia is located in Stockbridge, in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage listed Edinburgh, which is an upcoming and vibrant part of the city. There are numerous bars, restaurants and local shops in the area making it a great and interesting place to stay. A visit to Stockbridge market, which is open Sundays between 10.00am and 5.00pm, had been recommended to us. Even though we arrived on a Sunday we were just that little bit too late. It was a shame as I’d had my heart set on some homemade artisanal products. Guess it’s a good reason to return, right?
The hotel itself is situated on Gloucester Place, an extremely quiet residential street a mere 10-minute walk from Princes Street, the main shopping street in Edinburgh and home to Waverley Station, Edinburgh’s primary train station. We drove to Edinburgh therefore simply parked close by on the street. Parking was free on the Sunday we arrived; however, cost £2.90 per hour between 8.30am and 5.30pm the rest of our stay. There are of course multi-storeys which are cheaper but we liked the convenience of having the car close to hand, especially as Edinburgh is hillier than we remember and we didn’t fancy lugging our luggage across the city.
As mentioned our suite was on the second floor of the hotel in the original, as opposed to the recently renovated, side of the property. As soon as we walked through the door we knew that we never wanted to leave. It was huge with super high ceilings and plush furnishings, the first word to come to mind was definitely opulent. With beautiful wooden floors and intricate coving and cornices, it is evident that the Nira Caledonia has embraced the traditional elements of the property which is always fantastic to see. Of course, it had a modern and up to date twist as it was complete with all the mod cons to make for a fabulous stay including flat screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar (payable locally) and the pièce de résistance a Jacuzzi. Yes, a jacuzzi – perfect for relaxing in at the end of a long day exploring Edinburgh. I think if we’d not had dinner reservations we would have never got out, especially as the hotel provides complimentary L’Occitane toiletries which are dreamy and smell divine and are actually personal favourites of ours.
The only thing the room doesn’t have is air conditioning, again because it is a listed building, which in Edinburgh I imagine is very rarely needed but the weekend we visited it certainly was. However, our room did have a portable AC unit which did the trick just as well and ensured we had a great couple of nights sleep especially as the blinds and curtains also didn’t let a ray of early morning sun in to our south facing room, perfect for Mr ESLT as he is a super light sleeper. Oh yeah and the super king size bed was unbelievably comfortable, so much so, we even indulged in an afternoon nap as soon as we arrived.
Anything the room didn’t have or anything we needed replenishing was simply a phone call away. Mr ESLT called down to reception for an iron and ironing board and within minutes there was a knock at the door and there stood the receptionist with them in hand. How she managed to grab them and sprint up the two flights of stairs in that time and how she was not out of breath is beyond me. It was then it dawned on us that this hotel cares about its guest’s needs and personal tastes and does everything in its power to cater to them. I can only imagine some of the crazy requests they have had over the years.
After a great nights sleep, nothing beats a big breakfast. Plus when on a city break where exploration is the aim of the game, it is the perfect way to set you up for the day and Nira Caledonia’s offerings certainly did not disappoint. The second that we sat down we were offered tea or coffee and told to help ourselves to the continental breakfast buffet. The buffet was brimming with cereals, fruits, pastries, yoghurts and juices, amongst other things. However, spying the cooked breakfast menu on our table we simply opted for a juice and slice of toast each, we didn’t want to overindulge when there was a full Scottish breakfast on offer.
The cooked breakfast menu definitely lived up to expectations with a number of egg dishes available and the full Scottish breakfast that Mr ESLT had his heart set on. With all the usual stuff on his plate including, of course, haggis – well when in Scotland, right? I, on the other hand, chose the full vegetarian breakfast (even though I’m not a veggie – I just fancied it), which was amazing, especially the perfectly poached eggs and the potato ‘tattie’ scones. Made from boiled potatoes, butter and salt, yet with the look and taste of a pancake, I couldn’t believe I had never had one before. I loved them that much I even stole Mr ESLT’s off his plate when he wasn’t looking. Nira Caledonia is proud, and so they should be, that they source as many products from local suppliers ensuring fresh and tasty food rather than mass produced stuff from a wholesaler and it was evident.
The Nira Caledonia is also home to the award-winning Blackwood’s Bar & Grill. Again, following the refurb the restaurant had only been open a few days when we visited and the newly decorated space is beautiful. There are only a few tables in the restaurant therefore booking is essential. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to eat in there which was such a shame as the a la carte menu looks spectacular. Even though it is a very meat heavy menu, there are still a couple of great sounding vegetarian options on there too. Again as many of the ingredients as possible are farmed, caught or bred in Scotland and we can only imagine the Chateaubriand is as delicious as it sounds.
We had a truly wonderful stay at the Nira Caledonia, it would have been fantastic if we could have stayed longer, we felt completely settled and at home. Considering it’s located only a stone’s throw from the city centre, this hotel was the perfect haven to get away from the hustle and bustle and chill out in peace, especially in the jacuzzi. Nothing was too much trouble and we genuinely left feeling relaxed and refreshed, which is rare for us after a city break, we normally need a holiday to get over our holiday. I think this hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway or for a special occasion and somewhere that we highly recommend checking out if you plan to visit Edinburgh and one we certainly plan on staying at next time we are in the city.
And because we are nosey……
Before we left we asked if we could see some of the newly refurbished rooms. We were lucky enough to be shown to a couple which were free. The first, located right at the top of the building, was a ‘Petite Double’ which of course was smaller than our room, the clue is in the name after all, yet it was still more than adequate for a couple. It is decorated in a contemporary style yet still in keeping with the rest of the property and again retaining a lot of the property’s original features.
The second was the Gloucester Suite the biggest and plushest room in the renovated side of the hotel. It was basically my dream bedroom and would not look out of place in our house. In fact, I feel it’s time for us to redecorate – Mr ESLT take note!
- We were invited to stay at the Nira Caledonia on a complimentary basis in exchange for review. All opinions, as always, are ours and honest.