The Nira Caledonia is a boutique hotel located in a quiet, residential area of Edinburgh city centre; about a mile from Waverley Station. The hotel is in a period-renaissance townhouse, which used to be home to the 19th century essayist and hedonist, John Wilson (more commonly recognised under his pseudonym, Christopher North).
The Nira Caledonia has managed to maintain it’s period charm, balancing traditional features with modern comforts, complimented with wonderful, friendly service.
The hotel is split into two buildings on Gloucester Place, each elegantly decorated and furnished. Complimentary WiFi is offered for guests and the hotel is home to the Blackwood bar and grill, a stylish restaurant in the main building.
The Nira Caledonia is made up of 28 rooms and suites. Each is uniquely decorated, with its character and charm, yet feature many of the same characteristics. High ceilings and Georgian sash windows are featured in each of the rooms, along with eclectic furnishings, ornate mirrors and modish armchairs. All rooms and suites also have complimentary Wi-Fi, a flat-screen multi-channel television, iPod docking station, and a pod coffee machine.
There are three smaller single rooms available for solo travellers, as well as petite doubles and executive doubles (which can also be furnished as twin rooms). There are then six spacious suites which feature super-king beds, floor to ceiling windows and a separate seating area. These suites are only surpassed by the three luxurious jacuzzi suites, with their very own jacuzzi.
After we checked into the hotel we were taken across from the main building to one of the hotel’s other entrances, where we were taken up to the second floor into our suite.
Our bags had already arrived to the room and we entered to the appropriate sound of classical music playing from the docking station.
The suite was cosy, comfortable and beautifully decorated. The seating area featured two white armchairs, an antique chest as a coffee table, and wardrobe. The bed was propped against a finely painted feature-wall looking towards the sitting room, with a large flat screen television mounted above the separating doors, in perfect view from the bed.
The bathroom was very small, but the shower featured a shower panel with rainforest head, six body nozzles and a detachable handheld head, which made for quite the luxurious shower experience and certainly livened up the small bathroom.
We made the most of the seating area to get some work done prior to heading down for dinner.
That evening, we finished our wine in the suite before settling in for the night. The bed was comfortable, with a sumptuous feather and down duvet. Our only fault was that we could not control the temperature in the room as our windows wouldn’t stay open, and the night was a bit too warm to be under such a heavy cover. We ended up opening a window in the sitting room which helped to cool the room down so we could enjoy the rest of the night.
Blackwood bar and grill is located just past the reception desk in the main building. I think it was the most romantic part of the hotel we saw. It is consistent with the hotel’s tones of black and gold, with thin and tall black vases with roses and baby’s breath on each of the tables. The restaurant also features original folding shutters, a chandelier draped in black silk, and large Venetian mirrors which are illuminated by black-shaded wall lights.
The restaurant serves contemporary Scottish cuisine using local, fresh and often organic ingredients. As Blackwood’s is a grill, it specialise in beef, which is all raised traditionally, and sustainably in the Highlands and aged for a minimum of 21 days.
The waiters are all friendly and helpful, willing to offer suggestions and recommendations, as well as explain different elements of the menu.
For a starter, I opted for the Seared Isle of Mull scallops with ricotta and pea puree and crispy prosciutto. My partner selected the Dunkeld smoked salmon with pickled cucumber and wasabi dressing. These were preceded by an amuse-bouche, compliments of the chef, of chicken terrine.
The starters were both delicious, but the scallops were of particular note, working well with the puree and the varied texture afforded by the prosciutto.
For mains, I chose the beef fillet, cooked rare, and my partner selected the mixed grill of sirloin, lamb cutlet and pork loin. We decided to share some sautéed new potatoes and seasonal greens alongside, and both selected the peppercorn and whisky sauce.
The fillet steak was superb. It was so tender, and cooked to absolute perfection. For accompanying wine we took our waiter’s suggestion and ordered a bottle of the Argentinian Malbec, which is also offered by the glass.
With just enough room left to share dessert, we enjoyed the sticky toffee pudding substituting the banana ice-cream for pistachio, which carried a strong flavour of marzipan, much to my partner’s delight.
Breakfast is also served in the Blackwood bar and grill.
A buffet by the bar has a selection of fresh breads and pastries with a variety of accompanying jams and marmalades, cured salmon and meat, Scottish cheeses, fresh and dried fruits, yoghurts, mueslis and juices. Espresso coffee or tea is also made to order.
The hot breakfast offers both traditional and vegetarian Sottish breakfasts, and alternatives including scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, and porridge with fruit compote.
My partner chose some items from the Scottish breakfast and I ordered the porridge. It was all cooked to order, however I personally enjoyed and was most impressed by the selection from the buffet over the cooked breakfast options.
The Nira Caledonia is a perfect option for those wanting a romantic and boutique base for their time in Edinburgh.
While not as close as some other central hotels, the charm and character of the Nira Caledonia, along with the warmth of the staff makes the stroll to the centre of town more than worth it. It’s also nice to wander the picturesque cobbled streets, and is in a perfect location to enable you to explore other, less touristy areas of the city, while still being walking distance from all major attractions.