Luxury Hotels


Paintings of hotels always attract more than photographs.  Arrive at THE CONSERVATORIUM, a Set Collection hotel in Amsterdam (a hop skip and jump from the Rijksmuseum) and there’s a good chance your welcome card is a hand-coloured artwork by GM Roy Tomassen. The card at WALDORF ASTORIA CALEDONIAN, Edinburgh – above – is by the hotel’s artist partner, John Goldie.

The hotel is seeped in the arts. In the main lobby, there’s a Hamilton & Inches grandfather clock dating to 1890, the Royal Warrant jeweller and timepiece keeper which had been founded 1866 on nearby Princes Street by James Hamilton and his nephew, Robert Kirk Inches. The clock is actually 13 years older than the eight-floor hotel, opened to accommodate those arriving at Edinburgh’s Waverley station on the Caledonian Railway. Ah, more history. The Caledonian Railway, backed mainly by English investors, ran from 1845, linking such key locations as Edinburgh with Glasgow and Carlisle. In 1921, its pride was shattered when the Railways Act saw it absorbed into the London Midland Scottish Railway.

But its presence lives on.  Up the 149 carpetted stairs of the Caledonian (the hotel) are stained glass windows inset with coats of arms and memorabilia of the Caledonian (the railway).

More memorabilia. Suite 160 is named for Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, born in Edinburgh in 1859, in Edinburgh.  What would he say today to the hotel’s scrumptious breakfast selections? The menu offers a ‘full Scottish’. Wait for it: Ayrshire back bacon, pork sausage, MacSween’s haggis, Stornoway black pudding, mushroom, tomato, potato scone and your choice of eggs.

It’s quite obvious that after all that you might be full, but you have ideally put time aside to cross the road to the Johnnie Walker Princes Street, across the street. It’s quite possible that you now have even happier memories of ‘the Cally’ (hey, did you know their spa now uses 111skin? And their tartan is based on the Murray of Atholl’s pattern, with red for the hotel’s exterior sandstone, from Locharbrigg; and deep green for Princes Sr Gardens; light grey for the rocks of Edinburgh Castle – and black for those rail lines.  Girlahead gives full marks to the hotel’s owners, Twenty14 Holdings, and to the onsite management team, GM Dale MacPhee, Biana Peter and Dean McVey, for giving the hotel so many points of differentiation.

Let us listen to Hilton’s global brand leader for Waldorf Astoria, plus its other luxury brands, Dino Michael: