One thing Edinburgh is not short of is hotels.
All the biggest names and the swankiest brands are represented, or at least plan to soon be. There are the grandiose restorations funded by corporate indulgence, or modern branded uniformity. At the other end of the scale there is the friendly townhouse B&B where the receptionist will be the person cooking your breakfast and who knows exactly how you like your porridge after your last visit (rolled oats, in a pan with milk, topped with golden syrup, or honey, thank you very much).
Is it possible then to find a hotel group that boasts all the facilities of a big chain, with the personal qualities of a family run guest house? Well Apex Hotels are certainly doing a very good job of it. This small group of hotels, soon to be numbering ten, are based in Edinburgh, where twenty years ago they opened their first hotel. We stayed in the fourth and newest Edinburgh Apex, on Waterloo Place, which is named the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, understandably.
The front of the building would be recognisable to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg or Charles Dickens as the Waterloo Hotel they knew from the 1800’s. But for over a century the Waterloo wasn’t even a hotel, it was converted to offices and a considerable extension in the 1970’s saw off the ballroom and that might well have been that. Instead along came Apex and some sympathetic restoration to the facade as well as a gutting of the seventies block has resulted in a stunning city centre hotel, with spa facilities and a pool, just a stone's throw away from Waverley station (although with it’s glass roof I wouldn’t recommend any actual throwing of the stones)
We encountered a friendly efficient check in and our room was a standard City Room located up in the roof of the extension. The view looking across the back of original building offered a great view and was peaceful, as it didn’t face out onto any roads. The room itself was dominated by the King-Size bed, the sloping roofline only increased the snugness, especially when you are over six foot tall. It was cosy, but not claustrophobic, the light walls and three velux windows made the room feel much bigger than it was. The room was perfectly clean and with no obvious maintenance issues.
There were all sorts of bits and pieces tucked away in the cupboards and drawers as well as the obvious 42" LCD TV on the wall. There was a handy sized fridge and a safe as well as the tea tray and kettle, with the plug sockets in the cupboard so you don’t have to be moving stuff around. To help you get ready for a big night out there is an Hair dryer, Iron and ironing board along with a clever pop up mirror in the desktop and a full length mirror. There is also free Wi-Fi which works well and we could get 4G mobile signal up in the room too. The only improvement that springs to mind would have been some plug sockets next to the bed to plug in our mobile phones, but you can’t have everything.
The bathroom didn’t have a bath, just a walk-in shower. Which, of course, must make it a shower-room. There was a selection of Elemis toiletries and great big fluffy towels. Oh and a duck, called 'Earl' which you get to take home.
We spent a couple of hours down in the bar and found all the staff there to be helpful and charming. The drinks were reasonably priced for the City Centre, the beer selection reading like a “who’s who” of our Scottish favourites. The sharing platter at £18 contained a sample of every item on the bar “nibbles” menu which is more than plenty for two fully grown people to pick at for quite some time. I wish we could comment on breakfast and dinner, but unfortunately we ate out.
Room prices start at around £105 for a City Room and you can pay double this rate for the top of the range duplex suite, which does look amazing, but of course it’s all date dependent. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay, the location is perfect for the old town, new town, Omni Centre and Playhouse and of course the station. If you’re planning an Edinburgh stay check out the Apex to see how it compares.