Temperatures in Edinburgh were comfortable, particularly compared to Germany’s recent heatwave. Our cab driver was slightly confused when I gave him the name of our lodging, the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel. That’s because the name just recently changed, as the Kimpton chain purchased what used to be called The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square. I chose it because Bill and I have stayed in Kimpton hotels in the States and liked them. I didn’t realize that the chain had been bought by the InterContinental Hotel Group, otherwise known as IHG. IHG owns a number of popular hotel brands, including Holiday Inn.
Our cab driver got into a brief altercation with the guy in front of him, who slammed on his brakes in a traffic snarl. The cab driver got out of the car and started shouting at the guy, telling him “You’re on camera, mate!” The guy started yelling back at the driver as everyone else started laying on their horns. Yep… definitely NOT in Germany anymore. As the traffic oozed forward, an ambulance blew by with its siren blaring. It should have been a clue as to the theme for the weekend.
The driver dropped us in front of the hotel, where a very friendly bellman grabbed our bags and helped us check in. I’d say he was the most impressive of the staff at the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel. I’d booked us a deluxe king room and it had cost a mint. In addition to the $400 worth of credit card points I redeemed, I paid an additional $800 for two nights in this hotel. It’s probably the most I’ve ever spent on any hotel room anywhere– even in Switzerland– but it seemed to be par for the course in Edinburgh for “comfortable” accommodations in August. Yes, we could have stayed in a cheaper place on the outskirts of town, but I wanted to be in the city center. I trusted the Kimpton brand, which again, I didn’t know had been taken over by a different company.
The bellman helped us get our bags to our room, which was in the “Wee House”. It seemed like an okay room at first, albeit sort of small. We had our king sized bed, a fridge with free water, and a “tuck box”, which is basically a tin box with free snacks– chips and some kind of candy. Things went downhill when the bellman attempted to turn on the air conditioner. Although it wasn’t hot in Edinburgh, the room was warm. I suspect the building retains heat and there had been recent warm temperatures which the building was still hanging onto. The bellman looked at the display on the air conditioning controls and said it wasn’t working. But he got a housekeeper to bring us two fans, which did help somewhat.
What would have helped even more would have been the ability to open the window more than two inches, but that was impossible. There was some kind of lock on the window that prevented it from being fully raised. Even if we had been able to open the window more, we would have then been dealing with the noise of traffic and drunken partygoers out in the wee hours of the morning. Consequently, it was rather uncomfortable in our very expensive room… but the hotel was completely booked and paid for in advance. We also expected that they’d eventually fix the air conditioning, which, unfortunately, never happened. In any case, here are a few photos of our room in Edinburgh.
On the plus side, I liked the shower, which had a rainfall head, and the toiletries. The WiFi worked well and, I suppose I would have enjoyed the pool and spa if we’d had time to try them. I liked that they were available. The bed was a bit too firm, but that wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if the room hadn’t been so warm. Bill did complain to the front desk about the air conditioning issue and was told that the building was very old and when other guests use their AC, it makes the air conditioning in the “Wee House” break down. I don’t know about you, but when I spend $600 a night on a hotel room, I expect things to be in full working order. $600 is more than the rent I paid on my first American apartment!
On our first night, we walked around the corner and had dinner at Badger & Co., which had a very inviting looking “garden” out front. After we dined there, Bill looked up the restaurant and discovered that it’s themed on The Wind in the Willows. I really enjoyed the music in this place, which was decidedly funky, if not a bit too loud. Bill had a cottage pie and I had the lobster roll special, which came with a glass of rose wine. I must admit I was kind of tempted by the Golden Cock Pie, if only because of the name. Maybe I would have tried it if the weather had been slightly cooler. We also enjoyed a couple of beers while we waited for our table.
You can see the Oor Wullie sculpture in the above gallery. Artists have been individually commissioned to design the sculptures, which are raising money for children’s hospitals. I read about a seven year old girl who traveled over 1000 miles to visit each of the statues, which are located in Edinburgh, Inverness, Dundee, Aberdeen, and Glasgow. She must have very game and dedicated parents!
After we dined at Badger and Co., we went back to the hotel and tried out their bar. Again, I was kind of disappointed in it, as it was basically their greenhouse inspired breakfast room and didn’t have an actual bar where a person could sit and chat up the bartender. They were also playing cheesy pop music that put me in a bad mood. Generally speaking, the pubs in Scotland play good music… but the hotel bar was lacking in that respect.
I didn’t book breakfast at the hotel, so we went looking for it elsewhere… and ended up in a cheaper hotel that had a simple continental arrangement for five GBP a person. My back was giving me trouble, perhaps due to the hard mattress, so before we started to explore Edinburgh in earnest, we stopped by Boots, a UK pharmacy chain, and picked up some essentials for our cruise, as well as painkillers for my back.
During our last Edinburgh visit, we stayed at the Chester Residence, which regularly tops Trip Advisor’s list of Edinburgh’s best accommodations. Maybe if we go back to Edinburgh, we’ll stay there again. I don’t think we’d stay at Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel again… at least not unless they really dropped the price of the room or we visited in a cold month. It’s in a very good location, but for what they’re charging, they really need to step up their game. At the very least, they need to get the air conditioning fixed.