“ Address: 25 Shandwick Place / Edinburgh / EH2 4RG / Scotland / Tel: 0871 984 6398 „
On a recent business trip to Edinburgh, my ever-so cost-conscious employer booked my hotel for me. And in a city of fine buildings and grand hotels, I ended up in the Edinburgh Shandwick Place Travelodge.
One big plus of Shandwick Place is its location. Situated less than a mile from Edinburgh Waverley Station and around 2 minutes walk from the busy Princes Street, it could hardly be more central, giving easy access to shops, tourist destinations and travel.
Booking a single room (room only, no meals) for one night in advance cost £38.50 for a mid-week stay. Considering the hotel's location in central Edinburgh and the price of some of the surrounding hotels, that's not to be sniffed at. So, is this the bargain of the century, or is it very much a case of you get what you pay for?
Bizarrely, Shandwick Place nestles anonymously between a betting shop and a camera shop in a row of terraced buildings, rather than standing alone as a Travelodge normally does. In fact, the doorway is quite hidden and doesn't look like the entrance to a hotel at all, certainly not a major chain one. If you didn't have your eyes peeled, you could easily walk right past it, it's so anonymous.
This anonymous look and feel continues when you walk in through the door. It feels more like you are walking into a youth hostel or student accommodation than a chain hotel, and this is a theme that recurs throughout your stay.
On arrival at reception, the desk was completely deserted. However, there was a sign telling me to push a button to summon help. I've been in these situations before when you push a button, wait ages, and then are faced with the dilemma of how long you wait before you press it again. Thankfully, I was spared that angst on this occasion, as within 30 seconds using the buzzer, the receptionist appeared. Since everything was pre-booked and pre-paid, check-in took less than two minutes and was handled quickly and efficiently by the friendly (but not in y our face) member of staff. A positive impression at last!
Sadly, this did not last long. Going up the stairs to reach my room was a very dispiriting experience. I was greeted by bland, slightly grubby walls and carpets leading into a corridor where rooms were really squeezed in (my room was in a block of four (two on each side of the corridor) with scarcely 2 feet of corridor width separating them. Once again, it was difficult to shake that feeling that I had actually wandered into a YMCA by mistake, or travelled back in time to student halls of residences of the 1980s. Maybe things would pick up once I got inside.
Or maybe not. "Basic" is too kind a word describe the room and its facilities. The ghost of student residences past returned to haunt me and for a moment, I thought I was a first year undergraduate again. The room was small, cramped and very sparsely furnished. Immediately on the right as you walked in was a small bathroom (just large enough to contain a stand-up shower, sink and toilet). A small recess in the wall acted as a wardrobe, The single bed came with two wafer thin pillows and lengthways, only just fitted in the room, so small was the space available. At the end of the bed (and I mean right at the end, giving some idea of how small the room was) was a desk which ran the width of the room, with a single, uncomfortable hard bucket chair. Hardly what you might term luxurious! Other facilities were limited to a kettle and two cups, plus a TV which only seemed capable of receiving around 7 channels, and even those had pretty ropey reception. OK, for the price I was paying, I didn't expect The Ritz, but this was seriously pokey.
There was also a slight damp, musty smell to the room, as though there had recently been a leak and, sure enough, further investigation revealed a patch above the window which had clearly suffered water damage and recently been plastered over. A similar patch around the side of the window suggested the hotel has (or has recently had) something of a damp problem.
Since the rooms were packed so tightly together, there was also a lot of noise from the corridor outside and the surrounding rooms. As mine was a mid-week stay, this was not too serious, but I suspect that weekends might get noisy.
On the plus side, Edinburgh is, of course, renowned for its impressive buildings and wonderful views. And if grimy looking, semi-derelict office blocks are your thing, then Shandwick Place is the place to stay. The surrounding buildings were so big that they blocked out a lot of the natural light, making the room very dark. This further dampened my spirits and confirmed that I would be spending as little time as possible in the room
Next day, checking out was something I couldn't wait to do. The hotel actually has a fairly generous check-out time of 12 noon, so in theory, there is no need to rush to get out. In truth, my room and its location were so depressing that I didn't want to hang around and left pretty much as soon as I woke up! As with check-in, this was done quickly, although unlike my experience the previous day, this was because the (different) receptionist was completely disinterested and simply told me to leave my key on the desk, barely glancing at me.
Throughout my stay, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was back in my old student accommodation. £38.50 for such a central hotel is obviously not a huge amount to pay; but had I been using the hotel for anything other than an overnight stay on a business trip, I would happily have spent extra cash on a better room and better hotel, even if it meant also moving to a less central location.
Edinburgh Shandwick Place
25 Shandwick Place
Tel: 0871 984 6398*
Fax: 0131 221 9965
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