The George, Edinburgh’s oldest luxury hotel – today, the InterContinental Edinburgh The George – has had a sprinkle of international fairy dust thanks to InterContinental Hotels, but there’s no getting away from the former grandeur and majesty (not to mention the architectural history) of its five imposing 18th-century granite Georgian townhouses on illustrious George Street, the city’s most exclusive address.
It’s not every day we get to stay in a Scottish hospitality legend. Nestled in a distinguished building on historical and regal George Street (Edinburgh’s first central thoroughfare), InterContinental Edinburgh The George encapsulates the essence of the city’s grandeur and heritage. Setting foot in its opulent lobby, we felt almost transported back in time. The George dates back to the 1700s when it was first established as a prestigious lodging for those visiting the city. It stands as a testament to Edinburgh’s illustrious past but also to its new and exciting stories.
The attentive team greeted us warmly, even as we arrived in the middle of the night, off the last train from London. People often say that the Scottish are a friendly bunch, and this personality is certainly reflected in the level of service we experienced at the hotel, even from the property’s international members of staff.
Our bright, spacious and comfortable suite at the InterContinental Edinburgh the George fronted the renowned street and was characterful, coming complete with double height ceilings and sumptuous, ‘newly commissioned in the old style’ furnishings, charming curiosity shop decor and colourful artwork of rural landscapes in Scotland for an added sense of place. We felt our accommodation expertly melded the corporate hospitality needs of the international chain hotel with modern amenities, while still giving an essence of old-world Edinburgh… although on closer inspection, some of the fittings and furnishings were rather prop-like and came across as cheap when perhaps there could have been an opportunity to bring in more curated, quality antiques to better luxury standards.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
If you enjoy shopping, then you’re in the right place. Although it was once a financial district, today George Street (and the streets that intersect it) is known for commerce of a different kind: retail. The shops here are mostly chain and international stores, ranging from ‘street’ to upscale brands, but Edinburgh is not short of local and independent boutiques as well, all within an easy walk of the hotel.
This new-meets-old tone continues downstairs in the hotel’s Printing Press Bar and Kitchen, a stately, wood-panelled dining room that serves up modern British brasserie cuisine, a fusion of traditional flavours with inventive modern twists.
It’s not all time-travelling splendour at the hotel though, for a taste of today’s Edinburgh, the buzzing ground floor Burr & Co. coffee shop is the place to rub shoulders with the city’s chic locals. Then, of course, there are modern Edinburgh delights lying in wait beyond the hotel as well.
The InterContinental Edinburgh The George goes far to capture the essence of Scottish hospitality and provide a perfect base, in an unparalleled location in the city. Inevitably with the big-brand management, there will be some things that come across as a little corporate, but we never felt that it was at the expense of its yesteryear charm.