Caledonian Hotel Edinburgh

The Caledonian Edinburgh: A Luxury Weekend Away Full of Scottish Charm

Monday 10th Jun 2024 |

I love Edinburgh, it is one of my favourite cities to spend a few days in, but I have never been lucky enough to visit when it wasn’t raining – so when my husband and I set off from Leeds in glorious sunshine, I had my fingers firmly crossed.

The gods must have been smiling on us on this particular Saturday in mid-May, as the further north we ventured, the brighter the skies became, and as we crossed the Scottish border it was positively tropical (in UK terms anyway).

But why do I love the place so much?

Edinburgh offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. The city’s historic charm is evident in its UNESCO World Heritage sites—Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Also, don’t miss the Ross Fountain – an exquisite piece of Victorian cast-iron craftsmanship, gracing the heart of Princes Street Gardens, on a sunny day it is a sight to behold!

For culture aficionados, Edinburgh is home to world-renowned festivals like the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe and for art lovers, the Scottish National Gallery is a must.

Shopping on Princes Street provides retail therapy with a view of stunning architecture and the foodies among us can indulge in diverse culinary delights from Michelin-starred restaurants to cosy pubs serving traditional Scottish fayre – try fresh seafood, locally sourced meats and of course the national dish – haggis.

There is never enough time in one weekend to discover all that this vibrant and beautiful city has to offer and this is fine by me, as I like to think one can enjoy a very different experience on each visit.

On this occasion, we were after a little R+R and as we strolled into the reception of our rather grand home for the weekend and the plaid-clad concierge whisked away our luggage, I could feel the weight lifting from my shoulders.

The Caledonian Edinburgh, affectionately known as “The Caley,” boasts a storied history dating back to 1903. Originally opened as part of the Caledonian Railway Station, the hotel quickly became an emblem of luxury in Edinburgh. Its grand Victorian architecture and prime location near Princes Street Gardens made it a favoured haunt for the elite.

Over the decades, The Caley witnessed many transformations, including a significant refurbishment when it became part of the prestigious Waldorf Astoria brand in 2012. This revitalization preserved its historic charm while introducing modern opulence and world-class amenities. As of this year, the hotel is now part of the Curio Collection and is set to receive a multi-million-pound transformation. Private real estate investment fund manager Henderson Park, together with its in-house hospitality operator and asset manager, Klarent Hospitality, have today announced plans to invest over £35 million in transforming the iconic Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, marking a new chapter in its 120-year history. 

Throughout its existence, The Caledonian Edinburgh has hosted numerous illustrious guests—from royalty to celebrities—cementing its status as an iconic establishment in Scotland’s capital.

The hotel boasts various types of accommodation, all immaculately turned out and well appointed, but if you can stretch to it, it’s worth booking one of the Signature Suites. A collection of six unique suites named after famous Scots, including renowned writer Sir Walter Scott, Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Conan Doyle and Scottish saints St John and St Cuthbert.

The ‘Sir Walter Scott’ suite was ours for the weekend and I think I let out a tiny squeal of excitement as I clapped eyes on what is in fact a rather sprawling and very grand apartment with nods to its namesake placed carefully around the rooms.

Whilst the suite enjoys every single mod con one could wish for, it is classic and refined in style with a huge bedroom, magnificent marble bathroom and expansive lounge and dining room. There is something to see in every corner, from historic novels and beautiful ornaments to real-life writings of Walter Scott himself – but by far the most enjoyable aspect of the room is the spectacular view of Edinburgh Castle. I immediately ensconced myself in a beautiful window-facing armchair with a cup of tea and a piece of Scottish shortbread. Well, when in Rome.

After an afternoon spent meandering the sunbathed streets and enjoying a couple of tipples along the way, it was time to head back to the Caley and enjoy dinner at Grazing by Mark Greenaway, one of the hotel’s two restaurants.

Grazing offers a refined yet relaxed dining experience that celebrates Scotland’s rich culinary heritage. Renowned chef Mark Greenaway curates a menu that emphasizes locally sourced ingredients, presenting traditional dishes with an innovative twist.

We chose to dine from the A La Carte menu and I was blown away by the Beef Tartare snack – so much so our server gave us an extra one as a treat, as always the devil is in the detail! My husband chose smoked haddock kedgeree to start and I devoured the chicken liver parfait with a beautifully sweet onion marmalade. I chose the whole roasted lemon sole with Sauce Veronique, Celery, Pickled Cucumber and Sea Fennel, and it was stunning. The fish was cooked to perfection and the other flavours were delicate enough not to overpower the dish. Across the table, his lordship practically inhaled his rare breed chop which was served with Black Pudding Puree and apple Cider Jus – a testament to the wizardry of the kitchen team, they certainly know their onions.

I must mention – the service here was impeccable, in fact, the service and staff are impeccable across the board at The Caley, but I was particularly impressed at Grazing. The front-of-house team was well versed, knew their stuff and was on top of their game, without being intrusive – I find that some fine-dining restaurants can be overbearing when it comes to imparting knowledge, after all, it’s dinner, not a class.

We finished our culinary adventure with a sticky toffee pudding souffle, which shouldn’t be right – but it really is! Roll me to my room and stick a pin in me, please…

After a restful night’s sleep in our palatial abode, I was feeling rather melancholy at the thought of leaving so soon, but alas the robust breakfast of traditional haggis, square sausage and hot buttered toast cheered me right up! The Scots are incredibly good at hospitality and The Caley combines Scottish charm with world-class service perfectly.

I would say this hotel is right up there with the very best I have stayed in and I would unreservedly recommend it. From its perfect central location to its history and architectural beauty, the well-appointed accommodation and jaw-dropping suites to the exquisite food and excellent service – every detail is taken care of, leaving you to relax, and enjoy an unforgettable stay – and it really will be unforgettable. My advice? Pack your bags and head off on a wonderful Scottish adventure.

Tell them I sent you.

Words by Joanne Brook-Smith

The Caledonian Edinburgh : Princes St, Edinburgh EH1 2AB

T: 0131 222 8888