The hotel is so close to the Royal Mile of museums, shops and restaurants that a newsboy could easily hurl a Sunday paper there.
In addition to location, The Scotsman offers friendly, efficient service and such vintage charms as a coal fire glowing in the lobby grate. The magnificent Italian marble staircase, which the brass used to climb to the executive offices, remains in place.
I am upgraded to an editor’s suite, which features a bay window and an antique desk that might have been around when The Scotsman published its first newspaper at the site in 1905. Closets and the TV are behind raised-panel doors crafted from the deep, rich wood you would expect to find in the library of a country house in an Agatha Christie mystery novel. The windows are dressed with heavy, tweed curtains. The bathroom is large and well-appointed with a huge tub, heated towel rack and a radiator so efficient it will dry hastily rinsed socks in an hour flat.
The Scotsman also stocks Highland Aromatics, the best darn shampoos, lotions and soaps I have ever enjoyed on my travels.
Like a daily newspaper delivered to your doorstep, The Scotsman focuses on every-day courtesies. There is a chute in the entry way to the suite, where room service can deliver food and drink. I place my shoes in the chute for a complimentary shine. The next morning I find what appear to be new shoes. But, no! They are the same, serviceable Mary Janes, splendidly cleaned and polished.
There’s also the North Bridge Brasserie, the hotel restaurant, which focuses on traditional Scottish fare and locally sourced produce, meats and fish. A few nibbles from a recent menu: roasted North Sea squid with smoked Shetland mussel fritters; Loch Lomond Arctic char with a warm salad of Ayrshire new potatoes and grilled leeks; and Chef Paul Hart’s twist on traditional Scottish haggis, topped with Glenfiddich single malt whisky jelly.
With his piercing blue eyes and bristle of white hair, Ivor, the affable and efficient doorman, looks a lot like my grandfather, Allan Sinclair II, whose father hailed from Scotland. Ivor, who donned his kilt when the hotel opened in 2001, is grandfatherly in his helpfulness, patiently giving directions to the spa through The Scotsman’s warren of corridors.
The cavernous space that once accommodated the presses is now home to a stainless steel swimming pool. The pool is surrounded by other aquatic amenities, including a steam room, hot and cold shower heads and a whirlpool spa.
Both the pool and fitness center are open to local members, which gives guests an opportunity to mingle with Edinburgh natives. Chatting with the locals in a bubbling whirlpool is a decidedly civilized way to gather shopping tips.
Prices start at around $250 for a studio room, including VAT, full Scottish breakfast and spa access. Expect a copy of The Scotsman at your door, bright and early.