Prestonfield House

Hotel in Edinburgh

5-Star Boutique Hotel

David Harfield discovers a heavenly hideaway that guests will never want to leave in Edinburgh’s superb Prestonfield.

Benjamin Franklin has a lot to answer for.  Sure, he invented bifocals, the lightening rod and the Franklin Stove, made incredibly important discoveries in the field of electricity and successfully campaigned for civic rights (he was also one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, but no one’s perfect), yet I still have a bone to pick with the distinguished polymath.  In the eponymous suite that is dedicated to his visit to Prestonfield, he has created, albeit by proxy, a benchmark so high that all other hotels that I visit in the future are surely going to pale in comparison.  Thanks, Benjy, thanks a lot.

Cruising up the driveway to the 5-star Edinburgh hotel is worth the trip alone, its floodlit path illuminating the preening peacocks and mooching highland cattle that wander on the adjacent fields.  The estate dates back to 1376, although after a pesky anti-Catholic student protest burned the house down in the 1600s, Sir James Dick enlisted the royal architect Sir William Bruce to design the Priestfield mansion that we see today.  Of course, there have been modifications made since then, with the current owner, James Thompson, lovingly (not to mention tirelessly) restoring the stately home to its former glory by gradually buying back as many of the artefacts and antiques that the former owners had been forced to sell off.  However, despite becoming a hotel just 50 years ago, the regal air of utter luxury and indulgence remains in every nook, cranny, corner and ceiling of the prestigious manor.

A delightful receptionist greets my partner and me at the palatial entrance area and leads us to the aforementioned suite where she waits politely while we set about picking our jaws up from the floor.  To our left lies a bedroom that is larger than the average London flat, a king-size bed and a chaise longue making up the more comfortable pieces of furniture while an enormous antique chest of drawers is opened to reveal a 42-inch plasma screen TV and an admirably-stocked mini bar.  The en-suite bathroom boasts a deep bath that just had to be designed for sharing and enough toiletries to satisfy the needs of even the fussiest prima donna.  Classic FM plays gentle melodies from the room’s stereo as the scent of lavender exudes from huge pots that contain hundreds of the flower’s seeds, lying around the suite.  Aaahh, we could get used to this...

On the right-hand side of the suite, in the spacious living room sits an antique table atop which lies a chilled bottle of Champagne to toast the room with.  The walls are covered with a multitude of ancient paintings and draped in trompe l’oeil imagery, matching the elegant curtains that wouldn’t look out of place unveiling a John Martin painting at the National Gallery.  This sense of being permitted to step past the rope and into a museum display stays with me for our entire visit and there is always a lingering feeling in the back of my mind that a group of snap-happy tourists will walk in to take photographs of any room that we’re in.  (They didn’t, as far as I know, but then again I am a fairly heavy sleeper...)  The view from the floor-to-ceiling windows takes in the expansive 20-acre grounds, encompassing the famous Prestonfield golf course, which has Edinburgh’s favourite mountain, Arthur’s Seat, as a stunning backdrop.

The charming members of staff are always on hand to offer a detailed tour of the hotel, one that discusses the building’s exciting history as well as a list of its previous guests.  From superstar hellraisers such as Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery and Oliver Reed to political icons such as Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill (the latter having a suite named in his honour), the hotel has played host to some of the biggest names in cinematic and political history.  However, this rich tapestry extends beyond stars of screen and stage; we are led past the Whisky Room where seats are fashioned out of reindeer antlers and crocodile skin, through the burning log fires of the Tapestry Room and into the scarlet-pinstriped Stuart Room, so named after Mary Queen of Scots as it affords a spectacular view of Craigmillar Castle, the sanctuary to which Mary fled after the murder of her friend and private secretary David Rizzio.

As I tuck into a Full Scottish Breakfast in the fabulously decadent Rhubarb restaurant and try to enjoy every last second of indulgence before checkout, I can’t help but fret about all of the hotels that I’m going to have to compare with this one in the future.  Then I remember a sage piece of advice proffered by none other than Franklin himself, “Lost time is never found again,” and mollify myself with the knowledge that there is no shame in coming second place to Prestonfield, before getting back to my haggis and sausages, happy to call it quits with ol’ Benjy.

David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media

Reviewer's Rating
Relaxation, Culture / Sightseeing, Golf
Services Business Center, Free High Speed Internet, Free Parking, Restaurant, Room Service, Conference Rooms, Wedding / Personal Event
Dress Code Smart Casual
Cost Expensive
Ambience Incredible Staff, Hidden Gem, Elegant
Number of Rooms 23 rooms and suites

Room and Suite Categories

Luxury Rooms; Lord Provost Suite; Churchill Suite; Allan Ramsay Suite; Ben Franklin Suite and The Owners Suite.

Additional Ambience Information

From their welcome to their goodbye, guests will be made to feel comfortable in the opulent and luxuriously obscure surroundings by the personable and courteous staff.

Additional Price Comments

At £375, just £80 more than the luxury rooms, the suites really are worth the extra expenditure.

Last updated on 02-10-2015

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