When we decided to get away for a night over Easter weekend, Edinburgh was a pretty good last minute choice. A two hour drive away, and somewhere we hadn’t been to for a while it was due a visit. After I discovered the Principal Hotel chain last year, I really wanted to stay in one of their two Edinburgh Hotels. Preferring not to stay right on George Street, which is where one of the hotels is located, we went for The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square.
Location – Charlotte Square
As the name suggests Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square is located facing Charlotte Square, right at the end of George Street. So it’s just around the corner, and in one of the beautiful old townhouses.
Right in the center of the city, parking can be an absolute nightmare, so we booked the hotel parking ahead of our stay. At the price of £25 per night it isn’t cheap, but when I researched some of the local car parks and street parking options on a bank holiday it was nearing £50 which is just ridiculous. The £25 meant we chould pull up right outside the hotel, and the valet would park it for us in the hotels secure car park. Personally I found it worth every penny, simply because it was raining.
Welcome to The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square
Walking through the typical town house entrance, the welcome is everything you’d expect from the quirky Principal style. Old fashioned luggage trunks are stacked next to an old coat and umbrella stand, and as you make your way inside the traveller theme continues throughout the decor. The reception area is more of a lounge for guests to sit and wait during check in/check out, and the familiar tuck shop stands in the corner selling drinks and snacks.
Check in was quick, with very friendly staff especially on a busy weekend with plenty of people arriving early and checking out late. Our room wasnt quite ready, but while we checked in the receptionist text the housekeeping staff asking them to move our room to priority as we had arrived. We were invited into the garden bar to enjoy a drink until the room was ready.
The Garden Bar
There are two bar areas at the Principal Charlotte Square, and this bright airy conservatory style room with it’s glass roof was by far my favourite.
Even on a grey rainy day in Edinburgh, the room was bright and felt more like an oasis in the middle of the city, surrounded by greenery and wicker chairs.
It was hard to choose a spot to sit, I always love a good view to see what’s going on, but each table and little corner was done out differently with it’s own little quirks.
I settled for a spot in front of the bar, giving me a good view of the whole room.
The drinks menu was extensive, with plenty cocktails, beers, ciders and a large selection of gins. Edinburgh gin is one of my favourites so that’s what I went for, and a side of olives.
I love that feeling when you get somewhere and can enjoy your first drink. It didn’t at all feel like we were just sat killing time until our room was ready in a makeshift bar. During our first round of drinks, the receptionist came and found us, to say our room was ready, but we stayed in the bar trying out some of the chilli olives and an extra gin for good measure before we made our way upstairs.
When we were ready we made our way through the second bar, to the lift. This bar was more of a Moroccan lounge, with mustard yellow seats and deep turquoise blue walls.
It was very atmospheric, and completely different to the Garden Bar. I’d say it’s more one for the evening, with it’s sultry lighting, heavy colours and dark wood floors.
A Superior Double Room at the Principal Charlotte Square
Our room was lovely, and our luggage had already been brought up. There was plenty of wardrobe space, a desk, a chair and table, a giant flatscreen TV, as well as a view out over the Garden Bar and the Edinburgh townhouse rooftops.
The bathroom was white tiled and marbled, with plenty of thick fluffy towels too, and for vanity’s sake there were three giant mirrors around the room. Perfect for getting ready for an evening out in Edinburgh.
My favourite part though, were the small bottles of Edinburgh gin, a lemon and the two gin fishbowl glasses set out on a slate on the desk. A nice touch for a stay in Edinburgh, and we cracked those open straight away.
The room was very relaxing, and there was no noise at all throughout the night, despite looking out over the bar.
Our room rate had breakfast included, and I thought it would be in the restaurant but the bar/lounge area is transformed into the breakfast area. It was a bit different, but actually quite nice as it was very relaxed seating in the low lounge chairs, and the buffet was spread over three separate coffee tables.
As well as the buffet there’s a hot food menu with all the typical favourites, with a Scottish twist. I’m not a fan of haggis or black pudding, so I got the full Scottish without any of the Scottish ha.
It was very nice, and worth the £12.95 ish each. I did really enjoy the lounge area, it was very Moroccan and you felt more at home than in a loud restaurant.
The staff were friendly and interested in our stay in Edinburgh, and happy to help with directions and questions about the local area.
Check out was just as easy as checking in. When it was time to leave the valet brought the car around and helped us with our luggage. The front of house staff were excellent and there were plenty of them for such a busy bank holiday weekend.
My only complaint about our stay was how a lost property query was dealt with after we checked out. I left my hoody on the chair in our room, and can picture exactly where I left it. I realised on the drive back and as soon as I checked my bag to make sure, I contacted them. This must have been about two hours after we checked out. They took all my details and I was sure they’d find it, but when I heard nothing back I called up again and they took all my information again.
Two more days went by of this, where I called and emailed and was eventually told that nothing had been found. I refuse to believe it wasn’t found, as I contacted them within two hours of realising I left it behind. I was put in touch with their head of housekeeping, who basically just kept saying there was nothing he could do.
I received a request for feedback on the Tuesday, and it wasn’t until I explained my experience with housekeeping via the feedback form that the hotel manager apologised and offered to replace it. Once she was involved I felt much better, and it was dealt with a lot more considerately. I’m gutted I left my hoody, and even more annoyed it ‘wasn’t found’ so soon after I let them know, but at least it was dealt with properly once in the right hands, so for that I am grateful.
Aside from this frustration, we really enjoyed our stay at the Principal Charlotte Square. The location was excellent and I loved the quirkiness of the whole place, especially the beautiful Garden Room. During the day they have a cake table in there full of treats.
The extra touches are what make this chain great, the Edinburgh gin, the swift check in and not having to worry about parking. Our night with parking and breakfast cost £200, which isn’t cheap but for a five star hotel in a central location I thought it was worth the money, especially for a bank holiday weekend. I would stay again, but I think I’d also like to try the one on George Street too.
Have you stayed at any of the other Principal Hotels?
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