Reviews

Review: The Caledonian Edinburgh

a city with trees and buildings

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Review: The Caledonian Edinburgh, A Waldorf Astoria hotel

The Caledonian hotel is one of two iconic hotels flanking the park that sits at the base of the Edinburgh castle. The Caledonian, sitting on the west end is a beautiful, Iconic, remnant of the British transport hotel system. On the east, and where you can exit Waverley station is the Balmoral. When we were looking to book a hotel in Edinburgh we considered 3 different options, The Caledonian, The Balmoral, and The Glasshouse ( a Marriott, Autograph Collection property). The Balmoral was ~$450/night and the Glasshouse was 45k Marriott/night. Ultimately, we chose The Caledonian because we could stack a 30% Hilton Promo and the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk. In the end, we got a great property for essentially half the price as normal. Here’s my review: The Caledonian Edinburgh, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

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In Case you aren’t familiar, Waldorf Astoria is the flagship brand within the Hilton portfolio of hotels and The Caledonian was assumed by the brand following a £24 refurbishment that completed in 2011. Because it was part of the Hilton brand and I was matched to Diamond status late last year, AND Hilton was having such a great sale that could be stacked…we pulled the trigger.

The Caledonian Edinburgh, A Waldorf Astoria hotel review is part of the NFL in London, Scotland, and Dublin Trip Report:


Introduction and 1st Impression: Feels iconic and Couldn’t be better sitched

After arriving from London on Virgin First Class we headed out of Waverley station to look for a taxi. Immediately outside we found the taxi queue and hopped into a waiting one. Within 5 minutes we were at the front doors and a bellhop was opening our door to assist with the luggage. I knew from research that The Caledonian was central but The Caledonian is a IDEALLY located on Prince street, adjacent to the Prince Street Gardens, and impossibly convenient to the Edinburgh castle. For Starbucks addicts, like myself, there are TWO within 5 minutes walking. There is also a grocery store and drugstore within a few minutes. Not mention tons of restaurants and a pub, Ryan’s, across the street with OUTSTANDING fish and chips.  I digress…

The Deets:

  • When: October 2016
  • Where: Edinburgh
  • Rewards Program: Hilton Honors
  • Status: Diamond
  • How much: $663  after 30% off Hilton stacked with Citi Prestige 4th night free
  • Category Room – Deluxe and Premier
  • Other benefits – water every day, fruit plate, high speed internet.
  • Savings – $600 with citi 4th night free and 30%. Rate would have been $1260

Check-In

The hotel is deceptively large. Because the entrance to the hotel is on the shorter end, it doesn’t have a big, grand lobby, but instead a small intimate check-in area. That’s not to say that the hotel doesn’t have grand spaces, as you’ll see with the High Tea at Peacock Alley review, but the initial impression

Check-in went smoothly. However, it’s always interesting to see how hotels outside the U.S. treat status. My dad and I, both, are Hilton Diamonds. We were thanked for our loyalty, but given nothing more than that. I didn’t really expect anything else, given the write-ups online the hotel is sort of known for not doing anything for upper tier elites. I did think, wishfully, we would get an upgrade to a castle view room. We didn’t. Neither of us. So the rooms we got were what we booked.

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The Rooms

The background:

We booked two rooms. However, in case you were wondering, only one of the rooms qualify for the 4th night free with Citi Prestige.  I clarified this with the Citi concierge and then set about saving the most money possible. Since, at the time of booking, only one of the cheapest rooms ( deluxe) was still available, we paid for all 4 nights through the Hilton website and got 30% off the top line price. The discounted rate for that room came out to be £147 per night. On the statement we got a bit more discount because my dad had signed up for a Reserve and got a bit of the hotel price refunded as part of the $300 travel credit.  Then, for the other room, we booked through the Citi concierge utilizing the Hilton special promo of 30% off which equaled £167 per night. At the time of this review, the statement credit hasn’t hit yet, but it should equal roughly $222.

The Impression: HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DELUXE AND PREMIER

The difference isn’t noticeable in how the rooms are appointed as the size. HOLY SCHMOLEY. My room was going to be the twin room, but when we saw the size difference I ended up trading with my parents so they could have more room to spread out.

My Room 168

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The rooms are elegant, stately, and feel recently remodeled. The biggest complain I read on tripadvisor was the the rooms felt old and lackluster. This was NOT my experience. My room was small, but very nice. The only complaint I’d make is it didn’t have a hairdryer. I looked in all the drawers, called twice, and one was brought up promptly. Just a small thing, but when you’re in a rush, it’s cold outside, you just want things to be where they should be. Little details make the difference between a true 5 star and a solid 4 star hotel.

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Miles with the Diamond amenity. The water was so clutch. We could grab a bottle on the way out the door and still have something waiting for us when we returned. Great touch.
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Queen bed
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Though small…the bathroom was very well done.caledonian-edinburgh-a-waldorf-astoria-hotel-11-of-59 caledonian-edinburgh-a-waldorf-astoria-hotel-10-of-59

SUPER nice products. Ferragamo. YES PLEASE

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And then the mini bar…

If you look closely at the picture you’ll see something that was kind of omni-present throughout the whole stay at the Caledonian – a lack in attention to detail. The fridge was missing multiple items. This was something that my whole family experienced from start to finish during our stay…from room service, to housekeeping, to our high tea. Some of the smallest things were just overlooked. Things that are easily excused at the $150-160 price point, but the hotel is aiming to compete with the likes of The Balmoral and price itself in the $350+ range, and it’s just falling short . The t’s and i’s need to crossed and dotted, and unfortunately I think this may be one of the reasons the hotel is garnering a less than stellar reputation.
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My parents room 159

The size difference was huge. The view, which isn’t picture, is of an internal courtyard that houses air conditioning units and is UG to the LY. No need to see a pic of that. When not in the common areas we spent most our time in this room…because 3 of us could actually stick our arms out and spin at the same time, as you do.

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The hotel common areas

If you like old historic hotels, I think this is where the hotel would really stand out to you. It feels grand, established, but also brought up to the times. What I’m finding is that I love luxury hotels that were built near railroads. I didn’t realize so many of the Fairmonts across Canada were built because of the railway, and in researching The Caledonian, it was originally built for the same reason. In fact, it used to sit above a station until it was closed in the 1960s. You can still see the old gates which now serve as the entrance to the parking lot.

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love the stained glass windows and wooden detail of the grand staircase
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1st floor to ground floor and the Peacock Alley

The Peacock Alley is a great spot to sip a drink, chat, or have Afternoon Tea as we did. The only problem is the concierge didn’t make the reservation as we had requested. They accommodated us, but seemed very lost at first and scrambled to get a table in order even though there were several that were empty. Another minor detail, but another example that detail needs to be prioritized to elevate the standing of the hotel.

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entrance of peacock alley

 

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peacock alley
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Caley Bar

 

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reverse view of Caley Bar
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scotch tasting

Spa and Fitness Center

You definitely need to follow the signs to find the Guerlain spa and fitness center. It’s a winding hallway walk to an elevator that drops you off right in front of the facility. The Fitness center isn’t large, but it’s very well equipped. The pool was like a bath. UH-AMAZING if you ask me.

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Business Center

Located up one flight of stairs from the Peacock Alley, and in fact, there are a couple of office suites that overlook the Peacock Alley.

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Overall Impression

Pros: This hotel could not be better located for sightseeing and seeing downtown Edinburgh. Taxis are readily available and most things are within talking distance. The hotel itself is in very good condition, historic, and you certainly feel like you’re staying at a very iconic property. The room are very well appointed and the price we secured was unbeatable.

Cons: While the property itself is great, I think there should be a refocusing on detail. We went to the Balmoral for High Tea and the difference was staggering. It wasn’t the beauty of the room, as the Peacock Alley is gorgeous, it was how the staff was trained. This isn’t a dig against the Caledonian staff, as they were wonderful, helpful, and eager to please. It’s a note for the training program. Something is being missed when towels aren’t replaced, mini bar items go empty, hairdryers are missing, and reservations are lost – at their own restaurant.

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Would I stay here again?

100% – The details were minor things and certainly for the price we were paying…was minimal. I would say these details become a greater issue when you are paying the premium to have your needs met before you know you need them. From what I could tell…that’s what the Balmoral offers. It was also offering a price of $450 – a HUGE premium to the $160ish for the room I stayed in, but not a huge difference when compared to the standard rate. And the Balmoral is an AMEX FHR property – meaning there would be extra guaranteed perks for that price. I think the Caledonian can compete with the Balmoral, but it needs to train the staff, who are eager to do their jobs well, to a higher standard.

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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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