We recently spent a week at the Caledonian. The hotel was re-branded as a Waldorf Astoria in 2012, but for me it is still very much in transition. Parts of the hotel look very smart and in particular we liked Peacock Alley, and the restored Pompadour Restaurant and the Grand Staircase.
Rooms have been refurbished but not always that successfully, and stylistically they are somewhat confused with mismatched furniture and outdated bathrooms. On the plus side are the Waldorf Signature beds and bedding, and the good quality bathrobes.
Also many of the rooms suffer from noise disturbance as they overlook the extremely busy Lothian Road as well as a glorious view of the castle. Our first suite was very spacious with high ceilings, but again a rather eclectic mix of furniture, and a somewhat basic bathroom, with a very narrow bath, and shower over. It was however quite clean, although there were a couple of long hairs. The windows were single glazed and thus unfortunately we did not sleep at all well on our first night.
The hotel did very kindly offer up us a smaller suite on the 5th floor, which was darker as it had smaller windows and lower ceilings but was a lot quieter from the point of view of the road noise. We were however disturbed by housekeeping staff and hotel guest ps banging doors. I do wish hotel's would institute a system of putting a soft cord on the door, or a door stop to prevent the door from banging.
The bedroom was spacious, but had a queen sized and not king sized bed, which was a shame. The bathroom was large but due to grubby floor tiles looked well a bit grubby! It was also very cool as it only had a very small radiator and no other heating. The lounge was small and cosy, and was furnished with good quality items.
The windows were in a very bad way and urgently need replacing, as they do not match the quality of the rest if the room. The windows were dressed with good quality roman blinds and nets - the latter wing totally unnecessary as they windows were so small and not overlooked.
The food at the hotel was generally of a very high standard although breakfast on the morning was very poor, mainly due to the chaotic nature of the service, but also the lack of choice as no menu was offered. We breakfasted in the suite the rest of the week and the food and service, especially when Duncan was serving, was a lot better.
Personally I did not like Galvin's Brasserie de Luxe (not sure where the 'luxe' was) and both times we dined we were seated at uncomfortable and cramped tables. The bar in the restaurant is nice, and staff were friendly and professional and the food of a generally good standard although a steak I had was quite gristly and not worth its £27 price tag! Prices were on the high side, and in terms of value for money, I did not always think this was the case. I had three langoustine which were priced at £22.00 and there were hardly enough meat to fill an egg cup.
Pompadour's on the other hand is a very attractive space, and the food (we had a seasonal menu, which consisted of three small courses, but at £30.00 for the three courses represented very good value for money. Service was quite good, although slightly lacked attention to detail with regards to refilling water and wine glasses, and the coffee was served very cool and was extremely bitter.
We noticed that one of the only two lifts in the hotel was out of order all week, which given how busy the hotel was, was not good, and needs fixing urgently.
With regards to the staff, we found a number of them to be very friendly and wishing to provide good service. Others lacked attention to detail, and in my opinion needed more training. On a couple of occasions I asked for some specific information and it was not provided. As the stay was for an anniversary the Guest Relations team had placed a lovely welcome in our room together with a greeting card, which was a really thoughtful touch.
Therefore, overall whilst we enjoyed aspects of our stay we felt that the hotel was not quite up to the standard I would associate with a Waldorf Astoria and feel that the hotel's owners still need to invest more money in the infrastructure of the hotel to ensure it is of a consistently high standard throughout. In particular I do feel the rooms that are facing to the busy roads need secondary double glazing so that guest can continue to enjoy the wonderful views whilst having a good night's sleep.