Great Places to Stay
- Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh
Travel writer Vivien Devlin shows us round the Sheraton Grand Hotel, at 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh.
A Distinctive Hotel
There are 385 Sheraton Hotels throughout the world and therefore I could begin my report by saying that the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh is just another hotel in a worldwide chain.
But that description would be totally misleading and give this modern yet elegant hotel a disservice. Each Sheraton hotel or resort is distinctive and unique depending on the location and architectural style. It's fascinating to learn that Sheraton hotels were created way back in 1937 when the founders Ernest Henderson and Robert Moore acquired their first property in Springfield, Massachusetts. They expanded quickly with two more hotels in Boston, moving on to Florida. Within ten years Sheraton as the first hotel chain to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. That's successful entrepreneurship for you!.
From the States they went international, South America, Middle East, Europe and in 1965 Sheraton was the first international hotel to open in the Republic of China.
This extraordinary history of development and achievement across the decades only goes to illustrate the farsighted vision, the innovation and continued popularity with guests, worldwide. The Sheraton name has long been renowned for quality, comfort and high standard of service - so much so that Starwood Hotels acquired Sheraton in 1998, to join a prestigious collection of properties including Westin, The Luxury Collection and the new ultra-modern, sophisticated designer W hotels, all (currently) across the United States. The Starwood group is now therefore one of the leading hotel and leisure companies with 750 hotels and resorts in more than 80 countries spanning six continents.
The international Sheraton brand name began setting professional standards and a unique style of hotel living back in the 1930s. Innovation has always been its password for success and development, offering excellent facilities, comfort and personal service to leisure and business guests throughout the world.
"Throughout the world - a world of luxury and comfort"
Location and Design
The five star Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh is an imposing honey-coloured stone building set back off Lothian Road, opposite the Usher Concert Hall at the far side of Festival Square. This attractive open space, for pedestrians only, is adorned with two avenues of trees and contemporary public art, including a giant globe-shaped sculpture as part of a fountain. Festival Square is used for occasional continental food markets, festival fringe shows and Christmas firework displays. While guests may enter the hotel from the square, those arriving by car or taxi drive to the lobby entrance at the other side of the hotel, just off the Western Approach road, on Conference Square.
Opened in 1985 the Sheraton Grand is looking good, if not greatly improved since its construction due to the creation of the Exchange, a multi-million pound project, designed by Sir Terry Farrell, to develop a major financial district and major award winning conference centre. As part of this project, adjacent to the hotel, is the sparkling new ONE health and fitness complex, the most advanced spa in Europe, which also incorporates the Santini Italian restaurant. The Sheraton, with a range of meeting rooms, featuring the latest in advanced technology and equipment, is therefore in the perfect location for conference guests and business people. It is also ideally suited for visitors coming to Edinburgh for sightseeing and shopping, arts and culture. Princes and George Street, theatres, art galleries, restaurants and main tourist attractions are all within walking distance.
From the moment you walk into the reception at the Sheraton Grand, you will, I`m sure, be impressed by the grandeur of the spacious surroundings. There is a huge sweeping carpeted staircase, reminiscent of an ocean going liner, leading up to the lobby lounge bar and the Terrace and Grill restaurants. With the marble, glistening chandeliers and American cherrywood panelling all around, I had to keep reminding myself that this is a modern hotel from the 1980s. The public areas are certainly very traditional, with fireplaces, mirrors, wing armchairs, antique style tables and huge vases of fresh flowers. As this is the capital city of Scotland there is the subtle use of tartan on some carpets, designed by Hunters of Brora. The lobby bar, with waiter service, is also similar to those elegant lounge bars on board ship, and this is a very popular meeting place for guests and non-residents alike for morning coffee, afternoon tea, and cocktails and late night drinks.
More on eating and drinking a little later on …………
Luxury and Comfort
With 260 rooms there is a good range of accommodation to suit your specific needs and budget. There are classic bedrooms with 24 channel TVs, mini bar, tea and coffee makers, double-glazing, air conditioning, trouser press and desks with modem connection. Grand bedrooms are more spacious and have wonderful views up to the Castle and this is where I spent a very comfortable night. While it is difficult in a large multi-national hotel to have an individual design for each bedroom, the furnishings are most attractive, offering a warm Scottish ambience, with rich dark colours and plaid fabrics.
There is a king size bed, an enormous TV and, comfort of all home comforts, a large red sofa on which to relax and put your feet up. Perfect.
For even more luxurious comfort there are suites with a separate sitting room from which you can sit back and look up to the castle. In contrast, for the busy business traveller, Smart rooms have a fax, photocopier and printer as well as ergonomically designed office chairs to create a true working environment. Sheraton Hotels are very family-oriented and run a Kids Stay Free programme with no charge for children sharing their parents` or adult's room. A babysitting service is also available.
There are also adapted rooms for wheelchair users which is welcome news indeed and a reminder yet again of the American background to the hotel where `access to all` is a major priority in hotels across the US. Unfortunately so few traditional hotels in Edinburgh are able to incorporate `adapted` rooms, or even create full access to restaurants, which may be downstairs. This is due to strict planning regulations, preventing lifts and ramps to be installed within listed buildings which would alter the original architectural design.
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