In August 2010 my eight-year old daughter and I spent a three-week holiday in Scotland. We first stayed for three days in Edinburgh (at Prestonfield), then went on to Nairn for a week (at Boath House, q.v.), continued on to the Isle of Skye for another for days (at Kinloch Lodge, q.v.) and spent our final week near Fort William (at Inverlochy Castle, q.v.).
Prestonfield was, on the whole, a delightful experience. The small hotel (less than 20 rooms) is situated in a nice park where several very decorative peacocks roam. It is about three miles away from the city centre and close to Holyrood Park. Unfortunately, from the hotel grounds there is no direct access to the park; either you have to take a five-minute drive or a shortcut over a golf course (the latter alternative involves some rough going, like climbing over a wall - my daughter loved it but I am not sure other people will). Nonetheless, you should visit the park - if only for one reason: a walk up Arthur's Seat (a hill which once was the site of an old fort) from which you have fantastic views of Edinburgh and its surroundings. The off-center location means, on the one hand, that it is a very quiet place but, on the other, that you have to take a car or a taxi to get to the major attractions of Edinburgh (walking is not really an alternative).
At the hotel we were greeted by the very friendly and very competent reception staff. Donald, Calum and others whose names I do not remember anymore always were most helpful and made you feel very welcome; they took care of some minor problem with our room quickly and effectively. I cannot say exactly the same about the restaurant staff; some were also very friendly but others had a hard time to put a smile on their faces. Our room (Churchill Suite) was very nice - comfortable, extravagantly decorated and well equipped (air condition, two flatscreen TVs, minibar) - although, for a suite, it was not very large. The opulent decor (which is characteristic for this hotel) looked quite harmonic in our room but I can imagine that in smaller rooms it might appear a little oppressive (what with all the black and dark red and the small windows).
The restaurant, Rhubarb, left a somewhat mixed impression: On one evening we had seafood which was quite good but not as good as you would have expected (the halibut was a bit hard and had quite a few bones); on the other evening we had venison which was really excellent. I am inclined to think that the second dinner is more representative of the quality of the food than the first. Breakfast was alright - nothing spectacular but good quality and enough variety to choose from (however, our assessment of breakfast is necessarily incomplete because we always have just continental breakfast, never full English or Scottish breakfast).
On the second of our three evenings in Edinburgh we went to the Witchery near the Castle (a famous restaurant associated with the hotel). It is one of those places you feel you just have to go to but which almost always will disappoint you: It is a tourist trap that is definitely not worthwhile going to. It is dark, the seating is cramped, the menu is very limited and the quality of the food is mediocre; since the "thoughput" of diners is very high, no special wishes can be fulfilled; the waiters do the best they can but it is no fun working under these circumstances and it shows; furthermore, since the restaurant is basically in the cellar, the location near the Castle is not really an advantage because you do not have a view of it. Obviously, the five-star rating applies only to the hotel and its restaurant, not to the Witchery (which, on its own, deserves maybe two stars).
All in all, and despite some minor problems, Prestonfield is a very good hotel and if you are alright with its off-centre location (and do not need new-fangled stuff like spas, gyms or swimming pools), you will love it. I, at least, would certainly go back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Prestonfield is Edinburgh's most indulgent retreat and Scotland's latest 5-star hotel. Rated one of the "Best 101 Hotels in the World" by Tatler/Abercrombie & Kent and AA Hotel of the Year 2005, this exceptional hotel is near Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Prestonfield has been lavishly restored by new owner James Thomson of Edinburgh's famous Witchery by the Castle. Now guests find every modern convenience hidden behind the velvet-upholstered walls of Edinburgh's most talked-about bedrooms. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Prestonfield Hotel Edinburgh
- Prestonfield Edinburgh, Scotland