The Glasshouse Hotel is something of a Tardis: walking past the beautiful old church near Edinburgh’s iconic Calton Hill, you’d have no idea that the facade leads into a modern 77 room hotel, beautifully designed to both compliment the traditional exterior and to make the most of its scenic setting.
While the front looks onto a busy road, the back faces an expanse of greenery leading up to the top of the hill. On the third floor, all the bedrooms open onto a large roof terrace, with plenty of nooks and crannies for sophisticated tea parties, as well as a large, airy function room. We can hear the wedding singers from our room, number 70, which adds to the fun, though it’s easy to escape into a quieter area, such as the residents-only honesty bar, offering whiskeys, spirits, wine and beer. Sit with a group at a large circular table with a fire pit in the centre, or grab a peaceful spot for two in the corner. The Glasshouse feels like somewhere you can always find a place for privacy, regardless of how full it is.
The reception area is bright and welcoming, with a few striking pieces of modern art, but it’s on floor 3 that the style really kicks in. Dark brown walls and carpets line long corridors, decorated with attractive local art and photography. The earthy tones work well with the bright green grass of the roof garden, and both play host to striking light sculptures of willowy women, who pop up in corners both inside and out. Our room is notable for the large bed with its headboard facing away from the sliding glass doors: this makes it easier not to be woken by the sun. There’s a large flatscreen TV opposite the bed, ample lighting and mirrors, desks and a frosted glass wardrobe with enough space for a long weekend’s worth of smart clothes to be hung up. The piece de resistance is the access to the terrace: each room has stylish black and white chairs and a table outside so you can enjoy your morning coffee outdoors, should the Edinburgh weather allow (which it does, on and off, I’m happy to say).
Breakfast is in the Observatory restaurant on the second floor, accessible by a winding staircase. Walk to the end of another long corridor and you’ll find a break taking view: the floor to ceiling windows drink in the site of Calton Hill, its greenery and birdlife – when the sky is blue, you could almost be on an idyllic foreign holiday. There’s a generous buffet bar with pastries, cereals, cold meats, cheese, bread, fruits and an array of toppings. For those on a full breakfast deal (or who are happy to pay extra), a cooked menu offers Eggs Benedict, Full Scottish and so on.
The Observatory is also a fantastic setting for a scenic dinner, as we find out that evening, when the Edinburgh sky is still light and bright. Couples and small groups line the window tables (always the biggest draw) and the menu is terrific: our Wood Pigeon starter is a delicate treat while both the steak and the venison are hearty, fresh mains, especially filling when paired with skin-on chunky chips and a goats’ cheese salad. I squeeze in a bit of cheesecake and honeycomb pudding before admitting defeat.
Staff are friendly and helpful, if variable in terms of experience: The Glasshouse is more five star in style than service. The clientele is generally well-heeled couples from their 20s upwards with an international spread – I hear Scottish, English, American accents and more. There are a few kilts on display for the wedding, which adds a pleasant local touch.
With a splendid restaurant, comfortable rooms and a beautifully designed interior, The Glasshouse is a special hideaway for locals and visitors alike – and its roof terrace really is a hidden gem. If you’re ever up on Calton Hill, have a peek down – and then try to stop yourself booking a room right away.
I WANT TO STAY AT THE GLASSHOUSE HOTEL. HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The Observatory Restaurant is open from 6pm – 9.30pm Tuesday through to Saturday. Non-residents can book by contacting hotel reception.