One thing the Americans do well, is the Residence-style hotel, and I am continually on the search for a European offering that can match the comfortable elegance of my favourite residence in Aspen. I think I may finally have found it – in Edinburgh.
The Chester Residence on Edinburgh’s Rothesay Place is a truly remarkable conversion of a traditional townhouse – or four townhouses, as it happens. Taking up much of this block of Georgian -built frontage, the listed buildings have been transformed into luxury self-contained apartments without losing any of that original charm. Inside, jaw-dropping room sizes, designer furnishings and thoughtful touches certainly elevate this five star hotel to the higher ranks of luxury accommodation, and in a city that prides itself on its outstanding hospitality, residents at the Chester can be sure of an indulgent stay.
We arrived on a particularly wet evening in October, having fought the stalling traffic on the M8 and coped with the confusing one-way layout in place for the Edinburgh tram works. The Chester is remarkably easy to find, and although it lies almost at the heart of Edinburgh, a mere stone’s throw from the Castle and the shopping along Princes Street, reaching it by car is far from difficult.
The reception is in the first of its buildings, at number 9, and it’s hard not to be impressed when you’re met by a smiling Scotsman in a kilt, carrying an umbrella to rescue you from the depressing drizzle. As we were led next door, front-of-house Christina explained that reaching the separate residences meant leaving each building by the front door, a necessary requirement since planning regulations wouldn’t allow the listed buildings to be knocked through. While it may not be the best arrangement for staff, as a resident of the hotel it is the perfect set up – you have the freedom of an apartment without the need to pass through public areas whenever you step foot outside – giving you total privacy as you come and go.
Apartment 8/3, also known as the Grand, certainly lives up to its name. The spacious living room, with its impossibly high ceilings, is beautifully decorated in warm woods and chocolate browns. iPod docking stations, satellite television, hidden surround sound and a living flame fire the Georgian’s would have been envious of, are just a few of the touches that adorn the room. My husband settled on the expansive leather sofa to flick through the movie channels, while I headed to the kitchen to become acquainted with my new best friend – the Nespresso machine.
Although residents have a fully equipped kitchen at their disposal, the Chester Residence does offer in-apartment dining if booked in advance. Caramelized shallot and goat’s cheese tartlet, and beef wellingtons or 28 day matured steaks are on the varied and tempting menu. But if dinner out is more up your street, then it literally only have to walk a block or two away to find a range of delicious restaurants with cuisines from around the world.
As a travel writer I suffer from an unfortunate affliction. I don’t sleep well in strange places. It can cause problems on press trips, with sleepless nights one after the other as I bed hop around the country. No such problems at the Chester, and I can boast one of the best sleeps I’ve had in months. The Chester sits on a relatively quiet road, and with the bedroom located at the back of the house, there isn’t any noise to disturb guests. This is a utopian home-away-from-home, and a hotel that certainly comes highly recommended.