Macdonald Holyrood: Early Impressions from Edinburgh

Following a whirlwind of activity in London over the last week, I hopped on a late afternoon train to Edinburgh Monday afternoon.

It seemed a fitting way to launch this particular visit. You see, I’d caught glimpses of Edinburgh Castle (above) and other impressive stone buildings years ago, but only from a train. Then, we were in the midst of a holiday with our two teens, with an itinerary that included this storied city. On arrival in Glasgow from Ireland, though, we learned of the death of an elderly loved one back home. We spent that day coming to terms with the news, and the next day planning an early return to Vancouver. That saw us taking the train from Glasgow to London, via Edinburgh.

This visit, I’m pleased to report, everyone is fine back home – and so it’s a great opportunity to explore as we’d planned to do a decade ago.

A kind welcome at Macdonald Holyrood

I’m trying out a couple of hotels from the Macdonald Hotels and Resorts brand this trip, and arrived at Macdonald Holyrood late in the evening to a kind and efficient welcome from Teri. Early impressions? The property seems a very good fit for corporate travellers, although I’ve since seen a number of others clearly here on leisure. I made my way up to a spacious room with enough pillows and cushions to outfit a couple of suites. The artwork in the room and throughout the corridors of the property makes this photographer’s heart sing, and celebrates the history of the city and the country.

The property’s Bistro Deluxe combines a sense of history with the whimsical, as may be seen in the lighting fixtures over the bar. There was a broad range of breakfast options, and I’m not the only one who’s enjoyed friendly service from George and Nikola, below.

Ideally situated for a walk up to Arthur’s Seat

I find that, no matter how good a property may be, it’s the people who make your stay special. Concierge Frank listened to my list of priorities for exploring the city, and helped me map out how to do so while making the most of the beautiful Spring weather.

I began with a walk up to Arthur’s Seat, situated in Holyrood Park. The entry to the walkway is less than five minutes by foot from the hotel.

Up I went …

… and up some more, along with others out enjoying the gorgeous weather, to the top of the 251 meter incline. Frank had suggested allowing 40 minutes for the uphill walk. I took a couple of photographic detours along the way, and it took me about an hour in full. With the recent snowfall, parts of the walk were muddy, and more than a couple of fellow visitors found themselves struggling in slippery areas. On the other hand, I ran into local mother and daughter duo, Rosemary and Catherine, who take a stroll up to Arthur’s Seat once a week. It’s worth noting that Rosemary is 91 years young and, like her daughter Catherine, has a great complexion!

Views of the city and beyond

These are just some of the sights I soaked up from Arthur’s Seat.

We were atop the hill for the One O’Clock Gun – a tradition dating back to 1861, and one of a couple of local signals to ships in the Firth of Forth. This enabled sailors to check and, if necessary, reset their chronometers. This supplemented the Time Ball atop Nelson’s Monument on Calton Hill. Since weather conditions sometimes precluded sailors from seeing the Time Ball’s 1:00 p.m. drop, the One O’Clock Gun was added.

Edinburgh’s landmarks were at my fingertips, and all this a walk away from my hotel.

After Arthur’s Seat, it was a downhill stroll to Saint Margaret’s Loch and the most beautiful bevy of swans a person could want to see. Then, less than five minutes from Macdonald Holyrood, I was at Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament.

Location, location: easy access to the Royal Mile and more

Edinburgh is easy to make your way around by foot, and the property is ideally situated. Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament are an even closer walk than the entrance to Arthur’s Seat, and you’re just off the Royal Mile.

After stopping by Holyrood Palace, and with thanks to Frank’s directions, I made my way  over to Dean Village to soak up the ambience and capture some early evening shots.

On the way home to Macdonald Holyrood, I passed by (and stopped inside) some lovely shops, along with a myriad of other landmarks and striking architecture.

In my room

By the end of day one, and with benefit of a bit of dinner, I was ready to call it a night. Even though Spring came in like a lamb for Edinburgh, it had been a full day, and so this room had me at the heated towel racks. How I wish I’d had this little luxury in London last weekend!

The room is flanked with a wall of windows, making it nice and bright. It has everything a guest would want, including slippers, robes, ample storage and a safe. Now refreshed and recharged, let’s see what adventures day two brings!


Donnelly, Shelagh - headshotGetting there: The property address is  81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AU, UK.  You’re less than a kilometer (half a mile) from Edinburgh Waverley Station, and 13 kilometers (eight miles) from Edinburgh Airport.

Contact information: Click here for the Macdonald Holyrood website. Telephone numbers are 0344 879 9028 for domestic callers, and +44 131 550 4500 for international callers.

You love history, or whiskey or gin tasting? You’re in the right location. I walked from Macdonald Holyrood to a number of must see sites, including Holyrood Castle, Arthur’s seat, the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Dean Village, shopping and much more. Others may prefer to drive or cab it to some of these locales, but you’re just a 15 minute walk to the heart of the city centre. I heard from more than a couple of locals that the design of the contemporary Scottish Parliament continues to be controversial. It’s barely a minute or two away from Holyrood Palace and the architectural styles couldn’t be more different; I’m glad to have dropped in and observed Parliament in session.

Meeting facilities and spa: This property has been recently renovated, with £3million invested in its 157 bedrooms as well as a luxurious  spa and conference facilities.

Accessibility: This property is fully accessible for wheelchair users.

Parking: I was so impressed with the property that I returned for a second stay after my road trip to St. Andrews and the Isle of Skye. While I arrived by train and taxi for my first stay, I drove back to Edinburgh and valet parking is readily available. Plan ahead, though; parking is limited and you should book a space at the same time you book your room.

Four-legged friends:  Guide dogs are welcomed.

Macdonald Holyrood: Thank you for making this stay possible, and special thanks to  Frank, George, Nikola,Teri and the rest of your staff for making it so pleasant.  As always, perspectives are entirely my own.

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