January, a drag of a month that leaves us in a lull. With the celebrations of the festive season a fading memory, and summer seeming so far away, it’s little wonder a certain melancholy hangs in the air.
We took the bull by the horns this January and banished the winter blues with a city break, and on this occasion, the historic and vibrant city of Edinburgh was calling our names…
After a pretty pleasant journey upwards from Leeds, following the coastal road through Northumberland and passing Holy Island, we landed in Edinburgh to glorious winter sunshine bathing the city. With 12 major annual festivals throughout the seasons, an iconic castle, a Royal Yacht, a stunning cathedral, and a Royal Mile, the city’s most famous street, which runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, perched high on a base of volcanic rock, with the splendorous Palace of Holyroodhouse, resting in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat – it’s hardly surprising that this wonderful city attracts visitors from all over the world, in their thousands every year.
After abandoning the car in a close-by (and actually quite reasonably priced) car park, we set off with our pull-alongs armed with Google Maps……some days later we arrived, just kidding, it was a short walk from the car to our home for the weekend. A grand hotel since 1881 and nestled in the UNESCO World Heritage area of the beautiful and cultured city of Edinburgh is a collection of fine Georgian townhouses that make up the InterContinental Edinburgh The George. An imposing yet beautiful building, and the former home of the Caledonian Insurance Company, the grandeur continues into the lobby and opulent reception area where we were greeted warmly and welcomed with vigour by attentive staff. Check-in was a seamless experience, our bags were whisked away and we were shown to our suite on the first floor overlooking George Street – the hotel flags fluttering gently outside our multiple windows. One of the best views in the house I would say, this hotel has played host Hollywood greats such as Elizabeth Taylor and singing legend Kylie Minogue, amongst many other high rolling guests, so I was certainly in good company as I took in the splendour of my weekend home.
The rooms at InterContinental Edinburgh The George are beautiful, very classic in design but ultra-modern in terms of home comforts. Cool, sophisticated hues on soft furnishings, offer a nod to the beautiful Sottish landscape, whilst Bose sound systems, luxury coffee machines, and smart televisions make for a very luxurious stay, especially when combined with a cascading shower/wet room, decadent roll-top bath, and all the small details (fluffy robes, luxury toiletries, treat box, mini bar, flowers…..need I go on?) one would expect from a hotel with such a remarkable history and reputation. This really is the bee’s knees as far as hotels go.
After an afternoon spent wandering aimlessly through the labyrinth of steep streets and dozens of little alleys dotted with tartan-flavoured souvenir shops, some people watching over an afternoon cocktail, and a spot of retail therapy, we headed back to our suite at Intercontinental Edinburgh The George, to ready ourselves for the evening’s proceedings. Unwinding in a huge bath with a glass of wine and then getting ready leisurely wrapped in a luxurious robe whilst dancing around to our favourite girly tunes – it’s the ultimate in city break chic with a heaped spoon full of fun thrown in for good measure.
So off we went in our glad rags, to one of the city’s most popular dining destinations. Baba is a mezze, charcoal grill, and cocktail bar serving up colourful plates of Lebanese Mediterranean style fayre with a modern twist in rustic-chic surroundings. The menu is designed with sharing in mind and the platters are sizeable and delicious. We asked our server to pick some highlights from the menu for us as newbies to this style of dining we thought she was best placed to make recommendations, and that she did. We tucked into a rainbow of dishes all served with a hearty helping of culinary flare. From cauliflower fritters with zhug and crème fraîche to BABA Ganoush with pomegranate and mint, we also dived into a couple of grill dishes which were equally as sublime – the chuck-eye steak, grilled lettuce, and chimichurri is a stand out dish and you MUST order grilled aubergine, baked feta, chermoula and crispy fried onions on the side. Yep, I’m a pig. But it was worth it and as we polished off the last of our wine, we prepared to roll home to our not so humble abode.
Unusually for us (we are normally very much early to bed types), we decided on a nightcap or two at the Printing Press back at the hotel. A welcoming watering hole with quaint Scottish style, late-night elegance, and a boujee vibe – this bar is a beacon of hospitality in the city. We were treated to some expertly curated cocktails by the highly skilled mixology team, before heading off to bed. I’d like to tell you what time we hit the sack, sadly I have no idea……
Breakfast was a laid-back affair, strong black coffee, and toast for the most part. We brought our own Marmite – it’s just something we do. Especially when we have REALLY enjoyed the previous day’s shenanigans if you get my drift.
To sum up, we had a smashing weekend in Edinburgh and this was, for the main part, down the immaculate guest services team at InterContinental Edinburgh The George who treated us like royalty throughout our stay. From the welcome cocktails brought to our suite on arrival to the charismatic concierge who remained at our entire disposal and the super professional yet rather entertaining guest services manager who went the extra mile to make our stay exceptional, I simply cannot recommend this hotel highly enough. Edinburgh is fast becoming one of my favourite cities, and with hospitality like this, it’s a no-brainer. Book your break now, tell them I sent you.
Intercontinental Edinburgh The George – 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PB, UK Reservations: +44 131 225 1251