Great Places to Stay
- Novotel Edinburgh Centre
The Novotel Brand
Novotel Accor hotels are famous across France. The first Novotel was opened at Lille Lesquin in 1967 by Paul Dubrule and Gérard Pelisson, the co-founders of Accor, the first company to introduce the concept of modern chain hotels to France. With spacious rooms, functional bathrooms, simple but generous food, a bar, a meeting room, a swimming pool and parking, the Novotel brand offers its guests guaranteed quality in easy-to-live- hotels. Since its first beginnings, Novotel has never stopped growing: with a network of 336 hotels and 53,637 rooms in 56 countries, and is now the world's largest hotel chain outside North America. There are 27 Novotels in the UK, with one in Glasgow and most recently this 4 star property opened in Edinburgh.
Novotel Edinburgh - a New Generation Novotel
Novotel Edinburgh, located centrally in the heart of the theatre district of the city, is described as a New Generation Novotel. These have a new element of design, stylish public rooms and an overall contemporary feel. The emphasis is on space, natural light and interior decoration in wood, stone and richly coloured furnishings. The hotel has 180 bedrooms including two penthouse suites and twelve accessible rooms, Garden Brasserie restaurant, bar, fitness centre, swimming pool, conference facilities and a car park.
Feel the Quality
Talk about style! The compact but bright and beautifully designed bedrooms are fabulous. Never mind the size, feel the quality.
Sleek polished wood double beds with wooden headboard with integrated reading lights on each side. Most rooms have a sofa, which converts into a double bed, and a dressing table combined with a neat workstation desk with modem point, which swivels out. The Satellite TV has in-house movies and PlayStation. Instead of a traditional wardrobe, there's a neat open cupboard with hanging space - although no drawers if you wished to unpack your clothes. Good facilities include self-control air conditioning and heating [although in one room tested out, it was not working], iron, ironing board, Mini bar and kettle/hospitality tray. Two large bottles of mineral water are also provided which is very thoughtful. The bathroom design should win an award on its own. Despite a standard space, the architect has fitted a small bath, a separate power shower cubicle and a fantastic curved marble wash hand basin. Every aspect of the bathroom from chrome taps and fittings is ultra modern. If you swivel the TV round to face the bathroom which has swing back double doors, then lie in the bath you may carry on watching your favourite programme or listen to music through the bathroom speakers which automatically switch on. It's sheer magic. As this is a 4 star New Generation hotel there are extra services than at 3 star hotels in the group. It was therefore a delightful surprise to return after dinner to find that housekeeping staff provide a Turn-Down service with fresh towels and bathrobes laid out. Do make sure that reception/housekeeping know if one or two guests are sharing the room or you may just be given one bathrobe. This is just one of the many guest services on offer and it is greatly appreciated.
Novotel pride themselves in providing access and special facilities for wheelchair guests and those with sight or hearing problems. The twelve accessible bedrooms have larger bathrooms with roll-in showers, shower seats and grab rails. There is a second small washhand basin beside the toilet. The rooms are the same size as the standard doubles, which does not give ideal space for manoeuvring a wheelchair. A stool, chair and table had to be moved to allow access into the room. Our report by a wheelchair user was overall pleased with facilities but did come across a few problems. The glass shower door made access by chair very tight and could easily have been smashed by the chair. It did not shut properly anyway so that water leaked out. There is no shelf for toiletries in the shower. The drain cover was broken and dangerous. An open wet area is best for wheelchairs. Toilet rolls were not in an accessible holder but located on the back of the cistern and impossible to reach. "Naff" says our reviewer.
Likewise the towel rail was too far away from the basin. In the bedroom there is a lowered electric socket in the entrance hall, but no socket at all near the bed, which is often a necessity to use electrical equipment beside the bed. The kettle [which became very hot when boiled] and hospitality tray was placed high up and inaccessible. The bedroom door on a heavy spring was impossible to open by a wheelchair user and difficult even by an able bodied person. The tiny pedestal table could not be used by someone in a wheelchair - so forget room service. Full marks for an ice machine in the corridor for guests but the paper cups are placed high up and inaccessible. Late at night the fire doors outside lifts and along corridors are closed but difficult to open by a wheelchair user as they swing forward. Despite all these problems, which can be corrected, our Accessible room reviewer thought it one of the best he had experienced including the United States. The accessible rooms also have a large print telephone for visually impaired and an under-pillow vibrator in place of a fire alarm for the hard of hearing.
Cuisine at Novotel, Edinburgh
The aim by the founders of the Novotel group is to offer a wide choice of food and exceptional value. The Garden Brasserie at Novotel, Edinburgh certainly offers something for all tastes and budgets. There's à la carte as well as daily set price table d'hôte menus at £15.95 for two courses, £19.95 for three courses. This latter menu looks most impressive, on the theme of modern Scottish with definite French influences. The French Chef de cuisine is Frederic Martin. Start perhaps with Moules Marinieres or Warm smoked duck breast, with caramelised red onions and brie tartlet, or Crayfish tempura with sweet chilli, soy and lime sauce. Classic and inventive choices. Then a choice of five main dishes, including Pan-fried Lamb stuffed with mozzarella and basil, wrapped in pancetta with rosti potato, Poached Cod on a bed of spinach, topped with an poached egg or Oven-roasted Pork Cutlet stuffed with a fig and shallot farce and Roquefort sauce. Inventive creations once again, but unfortunately all dishes tested were rather disappointing. With the pork and lamb, other accompaniments, potatoes or green vegetables were required to add colour texture and flavour. The Cod dish was very plain, the egg overcooked and certainly needed a side order of mash to make it substantial. The alternative à la carte Brasserie menu offers salads, pasta, good vegetarian dishes, and a range of Fillet and Sirloin Steak from the Grill. Puddings are of the typical French variety - tartes and chocolate desserts although the Lemon Tarte which arrived, was a Cheesecake. The selection of cheese was ice cold, straight out of the fridge - red cheddar and Danish blue probably bought wrapped from a supermarket. For a French company this was very disappointing. Ambitious ideas certainly but the quality of the menu on paper doesn't quite come off. To be fair the hotel has only been open two months and there are plans to improve and extend the menu.
At weekends breakfast is served until 12 noon which must be the latest of all Edinburgh hotels. This will no doubt be welcome by late nighters and partygoers to the city enjoying a few beers the night before. Breakfast once again is ambitious and extensive. A screened off area beside the restaurant has three separate counters for easy access around the buffet. Start with the juice bar and cereals, then a cold counter with fruits, yoghurt, meats and cheese. The hot counter is exceptional. Select from fried and scrambled eggs, black pudding, sausage and bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms, baked beans, potato cakes and fried potatoes. Small dishes of hot food are replenished regularly to provide freshly prepared food. A fast toasting machine works well so that you can make your own brown or white bread. While it is self-service, waiters are on duty to bring tea and coffee and clear plates.
A major plus is the inclusion of a swimming pool and fitness centre. This leisure facility is open only for guests unlike many city centre hotels where membership is open to non-residents. Although down a curving staircase [and lift] from the lobby, there is sufficient light pouring in through the glass screens to give the pool a bright and airy location. The pool also has a separate hot tub Jacuzzi. But be careful taking a quick dip and do wear a swimsuit or trunks as people in the lobby can see downstairs through the glass partition! - as reported by the Scotsman newspaper.
Novotel is a top quality 4 star hotel with fabulous service and facilities. I was most impressed by the design and comfort of the bedrooms and bathrooms. A turn-down service while at dinner was totally unexpected and made me think I had checked into a 5 star hotel by mistake. Despite some criticism on the menu and standard of cuisine (which is trying to be too clever for its own good but will no doubt change and improve in the coming months), this is a great place to stay when visiting the city for leisure or business. Excellent value for money, superb friendly staff from reception to waiters. Warmly recommended.
The Novotel Edinburgh Centre is at 80 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DE. Telephone number is + 44  131 656 3500. For more information or to make a reservation see the Novotel Web site.
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