This article is part of our Trip Report, A Summer Holiday in Ireland & Scotland.
Two words – Castle. View.
We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh for two nights on our Summer Holiday in Ireland & Scotland. The hotel was plenty nice, we were treated well, and we would be quite happy to return.
But there is one feature of the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa that will make us remember it forever – the awesome view of Edinburgh Castle from our Castle View rooms. We’re just saying – pay the few pounds extra to get a Castle View room. You’ll be glad you did.
Our stay at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa was before we conceived of Middle Age Miles, so bear with us as we don’t have original photos to share, except of the view of Edinburgh Castle from our room. Thus, we’ll have to use photos from the property’s website to supplement our review. All photos that we include in this review are representative of our experience at the hotel.
Booking and Rate
For us at the time, choosing the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa for our stay in Edinburgh was easy. It was a nice hotel that was conveniently located. It was a Starwood property, and at the time I held SPG Gold elite status. Plus, I was hoping to accumulate enough stays to qualify for SPG Platinum before the end of the year. And importantly, I had a corporate rate available to me that made for a great deal. Given those factors, we never seriously considered staying anyplace else in Edinburgh.
We booked our rooms about 3½ months ahead of our stay. When I was choosing rooms, I saw that the hotel has Castle View rooms, with an unobstructed view of Edinburgh Castle on a nearby hilltop. Enough said – I was sold. This turned out to be a great choice. With the corporate rate, we paid 167 pounds per night (about $239 at the time) for our Castle View rooms – one with a king bed and one with two single beds.
I don’t recall the points rate at the time, but in a sense this was irrelevant as we couldn’t have directly booked Castle View rooms with points.
While writing this article, I checked back to see what rates would be now. It turns out they are substantially higher now. I tested the rates using the same corporate code I used in 2016, which turned out to give me the same price as AAA rates. For similar timing in June with a Thursday-to-Saturday stay, rates for a standard room are at least 270 pounds per night (about $351 now), with Castle View rooms going for at least 304 pounds (about $395 now). That’s a huge increase. I’m glad we stayed there in 2016!
Also, now, the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh is a Marriott Category 6 hotel with a standard points rate of 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. In 2019, the points rates with off-peak/standard/peak pricing will be 40,000/50,000/60,000 points per night. Using the standard rate of 50,000 points and our baseline value of 0.75 cents per Marriott point, it would take roughly $375 worth of points for a night. At that level, compared to the cash rate we found for June 2019, it would pretty much be a toss-up whether to pay the cash rate or use points. This would be for a standard room, not a Castle View. So if you’re thinking of using points, you should explore the possibility of paying for an upgrade to a Castle View room.
The Sheraton Grand has a good location within Edinburgh. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk to any of several the major Edinburgh attractions – Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, shopping on Princes Street, Harry Potter-related sites such as The Elephant House, the University of Edinburgh, or The Meadows park. It’s also right across the street from the Usher Hall concert hall.
It’s worth noting that Edinburgh is very hilly, so definitely expect a lot of up-and-down (it seemed like mostly up!) when you’re walking around town. I can see where some people would prefer a hotel on or near Princes Street, as there are more shopping and eating places immediately nearby. But we had no complaints about the location of the Sheraton.
Entrance and Lobby
The car drop-off and main entrance to the Sheraton Grand is on the west side of the hotel. [Arrival and departure may be the only time you use this entrance, as you can walk out on the east side of the hotel, which is closer to pretty much all of the major attractions of Edinburgh.]
Once you enter, the lobby space is modern, open, and nicely-furnished. The check-in desk is immediately to your left. We found the check-in staff to be friendly and helpful during our visit.
One memorable feature in the lobby was that they had delicious little cookies available (“biscuits” in the local parlance; in fact, probably “tea cookies” in this instance). The cookies were at a station on the left end of the lobby, if you’re coming in through the main car entrance; they are a few yards behind you if you’re standing at the check-in desk. I hope they still have these when Middle Age Miles readers visit in the future. I must have eaten a dozen or more during our stay there!
Another helpful feature of the lobby was that they had several computers available. These were in a slightly segmented section of the lobby on the far end from the check-in desk and main car entrance. The computers were very helpful to print out our boarding passes for our EasyJet flight departing Edinburgh for Belfast.
Restaurant, Bar and Lounge
The restaurant at the Sheraton Grand was nicely and decorated in a modern-but-conservative style. We had the breakfast buffet there both mornings and enjoyed it. There was a separate room with a large selection of breakfast items. Service here was outstanding. We had a young gentleman wait on us both mornings who was a very bright university student. We thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him each morning.
Decorations in the bar were also modern, but not conservative at all. It was full of bright colors. Honestly, we weren’t fans of the bar. The bar was segmented between the actual bar area and the main sitting area. This broke up the space in a way that wasn’t appealing to us. The seating wasn’t particularly comfortable, and the service wasn’t particularly attentive. This is unusual for us, but we never really warmed up to the bar here.
At the time we visited the Sheraton, we did not have Club Lounge access, but I’ve included a photo of it from the hotel’s website here:
Well, as we mentioned earlier, the castle view was the main memorable feature of the rooms. Other than that, the rooms were certainly nice, and the Sheraton beds are my favorites.
We’re including a couple of pictures here from the Sheraton’s website, as we didn’t have any original pictures other than the featured image of the castle view from our room. I would note that I don’t recall our room having as many windows or as expansive a view as the ones shown here. The room photo here is labeled on the hotel website as a Club Level King Castle View Room, so that probably accounts for the difference. The Club Level King Castle View Room must be on the top floor (you can see the different window configurations for various floors in the “exterior and main car entrance” photo above). I did not see any photos of a regular King Castle View Room on the hotel’s website.
Other Features and Services
The hotel concierge was extremely helpful in getting us tickets to visit Edinburgh Castle at a time that fit our schedule well. This made our time in Edinburgh much easier, as we didn’t have to worry about our timing and we didn’t have to stand in line for tickets. The concierge was also helpful in pointing out restaurant choices in the area.
The “Spa” part of the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa is an adjacent facility known as One Spa that is not actually part of Sheraton or of the hotel. This seemed strange. Services were available for a fee. In addition, the Sheraton itself did not have its own fitness center; rather, you’d have to use the fitness facilities at the spa. My understanding is that this would require an additional daily fee. We did not use the spa or fitness facilities during our stay as we were very busy with Edinburgh activities, but we certainly would not have been happy to have to pay extra to use basic fitness equipment like a treadmill that is standard at almost all hotels.
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