Strolling along Leith Walk towards Princes Street, I was surprised to see a line of photographers taking pictures of the hotel where I was staying, The Glasshouse in Edinburgh. Thinking they were paparazzi, I wondered what celebrity was staying there. Then, drawing nearer, I realized what image they were capturing: The façade.
Aside from its location beside The Playhouse, one of Edinburgh’s most well-known theatres, and the much-frequented, traditional pub, Theatre Royal, one of the other attractive aspects of The Glasshouse is its retention of elements of its previous life—as a 150-year-old Lady Glenorchy church. The modern, primarily glass, face of the hotel peeps out at one from the brown brick surround of the old structure, an architectural marriage of past and present. A honey-pot for photographers seeking a stunning image of old and new Edinburgh.
The five-star Glasshouse, with 65 rooms, is described in its own brochure in three words—‘chic, unique, boutique.’ It is quite an accurate depiction. The marble-floored lobby is rotund with wooden columns positioned here and there. Large black and white photos of angels adorn the walls.
An opaque, illuminated, glass fountain stands in front of the main entrance door and a silver-colored metal staircase winds its way up from one corner up to the next floor. Large columns, high ceiling chandeliers and a stoup (stone font for holy water) all elements of the property’s prior history, brought back to the present in a contemporary form. Petite, yellow, soft-backed chairs offer guests relaxation in the lobby.
A blend of classic and Asian styles, our suite was on the second floor reached via a long, winding, carpeted corridor adorned with modern paintings by local artists. The room was spacious, with a wooden, trellis-like structure across it between the bed and the wall-to-ceiling windows that overlook a large outdoor terrace and the city streets beyond.
A small bottle of Glenmorangie whisky with a plate of shortbread biscuits reflected a traditional Scottish and complemented the laid-back atmosphere enhanced by the dark mahogany, cherry wood and butterscotch lines of the room. A leather sofa provided ample space for relaxation and for watching the television set positioned directly in front of it.
No lunches or dinners are served at The Glasshouse but a substantial breakfast, including a buffet and hot, cooked-to-order dishes, is held in a large, spacious hall, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the green woods on Calton Hill behind. A highlight of the menu is the vegetarian option including a meatless version of the age-old Scottish dish, haggis, which is normally made with oats combined with a lamb’s internal organs.
Chairs and tables throughout the garden and a privacy trellis offer comfortable viewing options. Weddings, parties and conferences can be organized here especially during the warm season. On the same floor, the aptly-named ‘Snug’ bar encourages quiet contemplation. It is, in effect, a small table with seats around it, an open fire in the middle and an ‘honesty’ bar nearby. Simply serve yourself and leave payment before you go.
Prime location is an invaluable asset for The Glasshouse. St. James Shopping Centre—with a high-end brand arcade, including John Lewis and Harvey Norman department stores—is just across the street while Edinburgh’s main shopping area, along the board, regal Princes Street, is but a ten-minute walk away.
Also close by is Waverley Bridge, from which airport and city tour buses arrive and depart, and the neo-classical National Art Gallery of Scotland and Writer’s Museum. The Royal Mile leading to the castle at its craggy top, a highlight of any visit to Edinburgh, is but a 20-minute walk away, across Northern Bridge, with views of the castle and the Nelson Monument.
The Glasshouse Hotel is part of the Eton Collection, a group of four boutique hotels owned by the Westmont Hospitality Group which operates more than a thousand hotels worldwide.