From one of the oldest hotels in Scotland, the Salutation Hotel in Perth, which has been welcoming guests since 1699, my husband and I took the Coastal Trail round the Kingdom of Fife, visiting places such as Crail, eating fish’n’chips in Anstruther, having debated which of the three rival chippies we should patronise, and seeing the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth with its magnificent cliff scenery, en route to the more modern Holyrood apartHOTEL in Edinburgh. However, this was not a journey from the sublime to the ridiculous, rather, it was a journey from the ridiculous to the sublime.
One of our passions is motorsport and there are plenty of venues to slake this particular thirst of ours in this area*
As we neared our target hotel we also enjoyed the hospitality afforded by the Old Course Hotel at St. Andrew’s. If the £1300+ per night fee for their suite is beyond your budget then please do at least visit the Old Road Bar on the 4th floor for wee dram overlooking the 17th fairway. My husband, Andrew, recommends the smoky single malt coffee from the Isle of Islay (the latter which we visited last summer): it is very potent!
Conveniently situated, just off the Historic Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s city centre, the Holyrood apartHOTEL is an ideal base from which to visit the main popular attractions whilst also enjoying some R’n’R. In close walking distance is the Holyrood Palace and Scottish Parliament; Holyrood Park and the beginning of the walk to Arthur’s seat from which there are spectacular views over Edinburgh; and, of course, the Royal Mile. It is in close proximity to the city centre’s financial area and 100 metres from the apartHOTEL is a useful Tesco Express. We visited St. Giles Cathedral where John Knox preached. There one can find a plaque on a pillar noting the place from which Jenny Geddes threw her chair at the bishop’s head. When visiting the Museum of Childhood though, I was somewhat shocked to find my Triang dollshouse in there as an exhibit! Voted Europe’s Leading Destination in the 2012 World Travel Awards, inspirational Edinburgh boasts some of the world’s greatest culture and quiet innovation, set against the dramatic backdrop of its iconic castle.
The apartHOTEL block contains 41 2-bedroomed serviced apartments with most containing 2 bathrooms. Our apartment (the penthouse on the 6th floor) contained 2 double bedrooms with one ensuite bathroom with shower and a separate bathroom equipped with bath and overheard shower. Other configurations in the block include double bedroom with twin bedroom, and twin bedroom with twin bedroom. Décor is inoffensively and mildly contemporary.
Every apartment contains a separate lounge area with double sofa bed and, in our apartment, the kitchen was situated off of this larger-sized lounge with a separate skyline dining room / meeting room where we dined beneath the stars and breakfasted bathed in glorious sunshine and cloudless azure skies. The lounge had a LCD flat screen TV and DVD player. We availed ourselves of the loan of a DVD from the apartHOTEL’s library: ‘The Wedding Date’ if you are interested so we could chillax on the sofa after the end of Festival fireworks which we managed to catch!
The bed we slept in was very comfortable and each bedroom contained an iron and ironing board, safe, hairdryer, workstation with DDI and data point. Wi-Fi is available but sadly internet access is not free.
The kitchens are fully equipped with hob, oven, extractor fan, microwave, ‘fridge, washer/dryer, small dishwasher, toaster, tea and coffee making facilities (this included a cafetière), Royal Worcester crockery with place settings for 4 people, cutlery and all cooking equipment.
The apartment was well stocked with the basic essential foodstuffs including 4 varieties of Frank Cooper’s jams, various cereals, cheese, juice, milk, water, yoghourt, biscuits, coffee, tea and fresh fruit, many with Scottish origin which was appreciated. Indeed, the only thing I needed to purchase, not being a fan of instant coffee, was some real coffee for the cafetière.
Also supplied were some washing powder, dishwasher tablets and washing up liquid (and new sponge / scourer). All I had to purchase was some fabric conditioner. Should you have any dry cleaning requirements, apparently this can be done the same day for a fee. I did, however, use the washing machine. Having some delicates that I did not wish to tumble-dry, I came a little unstuck as there is no clothes airer upon which to hang these, or to air one’s ironed clothes.
The bathrooms in the penthouse had steam resistant mirrors, shaving mirrors, heated towel rails, gorgeous-smelling The White Company complimentary toiletries, bathrobes, and decent fluffy towels.
All the usual hotel services (wake up calls, newspaper delivery and suchlike) are available and there is no minimum, nor maximum, required length of stay.
The lift judders and shudders a tad and does not have a voice recording to inform people with visually impairments as to which floor it is stopping. As the digital display is temperamental some guests, especially those who have partaken of a wee dram, may find this confusing. This confusion may be further exacerbated by the fact that the garage is located on floor 0 and reception on floor 2.
The car park only contains about 10 spaces and none of them are designated for people with disabilities. However, guests who are reliant on their vehicles would be well-advised to ensure and pre-book car-parking, which is chargeable.
Getting into the car park requires you to be in possession of your key card first (and you will need to obtain the directions to the car park from reception as the car park entrance is located next to the Tesco Express and not next to the main entrance of the apartHOTEL). This then means that you probably need to park illegally or risk getting clamped while you check in to obtain said key card. Furthermore, if your vehicle has a long bonnet then you will probably need to get out of your car in order to enter the key card to operate the electric gates, which, rather alarmingly, swing open towards your car. This is all very well if you are of an athletic disposition but not so practical if you happen to have a disability.
Internal apartment floors are carpeted in the bedrooms and hallways and wooden laminate in the dining room and lounge. However, there are wooden lips to each room which protrude significantly posing a trip hazard to the unwary or half asleep. Circulation space in the hallway to the penthouse was limited and it was not possible to prop open most internal doors. If this is due to fire regulations then I would suggest that a magnetic release system may resolve this and assist people with mobility issues.
There is a guest information book folder available in the apartment which contains information on how to use the various pieces of equipment , heating and suchlike. However, everything was pretty straightforward and we did not encounter any difficulties. Indeed, I found the staff on the 24-hour reception desk more than willing to assist with any queries. However, the comprehensive welcome afforded to us by Rebecca upon our arrival meant that we had few supplementary questions. This warm welcome was quite genuine on her part as she was wholly oblivious to the fact that I was there to review for Silver Travel Advisor.
I would happily recommend the Holyrood apartHOTEL either to people wishing to do the tourist trail, or those needing a base from which to work in Edinburgh (it is close to the financial area of the city), or those visiting friends / family. We found it pleasantly restful and peaceful, although I note that we stayed when the neighbouring student accommodation was devoid of occupants due to the summer recess. Although I recommend the Holyrood apartHOTEL it is always worth shopping around!
*Local motorsports venues include Crail Raceway, Crail Airfield, Balcomie Road, Crail, Fife, 01333 451836 (this is a venue for people who have a fast car and want to race it; Knockhill Racing Circuit, near Dunfermline, Fife is Scotland’s premier venue for motorsports in terms of participating and spectating (01383 723337); Fyfe Off-Road, Kinkell House, St. Andrews, Fife, 01334 472003; and MAD 4×4 It, Scottish Off Road Driving Centre, Glentarkie, Strathmiglo, Fife, 01337 860528.