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Issue 45 - The old & the new

Scotland Magazine Issue 45
June 2009


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The old & the new

Scotland Magazine checks out the new Apex Waterloo Place hotel in Edinburgh.

Just beneath Calton Hill, a stroll away from busy Princes Street, is Edinburgh’s newest, and oldest, hotel.

Perhaps we should explain. The new Apex hotel in Waterloo Place is a landmark building. Built in 1819, the Waterloo Hotel was the first purpose-built large scale hotel in Edinburgh. At the time it was advertised as “an establishment where strangers could see the manners of the people and mix with the society of the place,” and boasted “a moderate fixed charge for servants.” Eventually it ceased trading as a hotel and was turned into office space. But now, 120 years later, it has been bought and turned back into a hotel by Edinburgh based hotel group, Apex.

It represents the fourth Edinburgh hotel for the chain, which is now the biggest accommodation provider in the city. Afurther two Apex hotels are located in Dundee and London (with a further two planned for London in the next couple of years).

It was a challenging project for the architects, to shoehorn all the luxuries of a contemporary four star hotel, including swimming pool, spa, lifts etc, into an historic building. But they managed it, and many period features such as fireplaces and ornate ceiling cornices have been gently incorporated into the Apex design.

Before the paint had fully dried Scotland Magazine had elbowed its way through the door to see what was going on.

‘Urban glamour meets contemporary comfort’ is very much the philosophy behind Apex Waterloo Place, and that’s pretty much what you get.

There are 187 bedrooms in the building, all decorated in a modern palette of muted earthy tones and wood finishes. Superior rooms are small, but finished to a very high standard featuring oversized desks, ergonomic chairs and 42” LCD televisions.

And in a city hotel what do you need all that extra floor space for anyway? Ours had a great view towards Firth of Forth.

The bathrooms are just as stylish, with an invitingly deep bath, separate power shower and generous bottles from the hotel’s own spa, where you’ll also find luxurious swimming pool, gym, sauna and steam room.

The restaurant on the ground floor is called Elliot’s and is decorated in a cool palette of pale white and blue. It was quiet during our visit, but the waiting staff were full of just-opened enthusiasm and buzzed about like bluebottles.

Offering an array of modern Scottish dishes, Elliot’s prides itself on offering locally sourced seasonal ingredients ‘where possible.’ Animal welfare is a subject very close to this writer’s heart, but not, it seems, Elliot’s. When asked if the chicken in one dish was free-range, our waiter elicited the very curious response: “no it’s not free range, it’s baked for 20 minutes.” Teething problems aside, the Apex formula works. Sister hotels in the Grassmarket and the West End are enormously popular and have been looking after pleasure and business travellers since 1996.

The Waterloo Place location is just as good, and with prices from £41 per person, we think it represents extremely good value for city accommodation. Where, luckily, there are no shortage of restaurant options.