Prestonfield, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Where Is It: Edinburgh, Scotland.

Why Go: It’s quirky, unique and arguably Edinburgh’s most luxurious boutique hotel.

Best For: Wonderfully overstated opulence, ideal for a romantic getaway.

Three Things We Loved: The impeccable service, sumptuous styling with a hint of the bizarre, and a wonderful choice of fireside sofas on which to enjoy afternoon tea or evening cocktails.

The Ultimate Factor: Baroque grandeur with an eccentric twist.


Like the peacocks that strut about its lawns, Prestonfield House is an exotic and colourful show off. Look at me, the 17th-century stately pile seems to scream, as you sweep up the front steps into a world where opulent extravagance rules the roost. Thanks to the creative vision of its owner, Edinburgh restaurateur James Thomson, there’s a wonderful anti-minimalist rage against beige going on here. Every corner of this luxury hotel, including the guest rooms and suites, is filled with an eclectic collection of art and antiques set off by vases of fresh flowers, gilt-framed mirrors, glittering chandeliers and a veritable sea of perfectly mismatched fabrics and furnishings. It’s all about the traditional pleasures and romance only a grand country house like this can offer. In the evenings and on cold winter days, log fires crackle and candles cast a romantic glow in Prestonfield’s four drawing rooms, while on long summer afternoons the focus is more likely to be outside in the gardens where guests can take tea or play a round of croquet. Yet for all the glamour in this bastion of overstated luxury, there is an air of calm, aesthetic beauty. Romantic escapes don’t get much better than this.

The Accommodation

As with everything else at Prestonfield, the 18 guest rooms and five suites have that wonderful element of surprise. Each has its own unique style, character and colour scheme, just as you’d expect in any grand country house. Common throughout are the sumptuous fabrics and carefully chosen artworks, and each room has a fascinating collection of antique pieces and furniture. Even the en-suite bathrooms have their own distinct character with fittings ranging from claw foot baths and colourful Moorish-style floor tiles to glitzy black and gold marble mosaic finishes. All rooms have air-conditioning, fully equipped media cabinets, minibars, free wi-fi and Essentiel Elements bathroom products. Then there are the thoughtful extra touches to be found in not just the suites, but every guest room: a complimentary bottle of champagne, down pillows, fresh fruit and flowers, Nespresso coffee makers, fresh milk and an imaginative selection of fine-quality teas.

Where we Stayed

The Ben Franklin suite, where gloriously eccentric touches abound, is more like a decadent apartment than a hotel room with its own hallway, two bathrooms, a luxurious bedroom and a separate sitting-dining room with views of the gardens through two large windows. Upon entering the suite, your eye is caught immediately by the extraordinary leopard-print carpet in the hallway and sitting room. In the latter, this has been teamed to surprising but delightful effect with a red sofa, a tapestry-covered ottoman, a pair of negro sculptures, large gilt-framed mirrors and oil paintings, zebra-print cushions and golden brocade curtains. It’s a mismatch made in heaven. Among this wonderful collection of furniture and artifacts, there’s still plenty of room for an elegant dining suite in one corner, plus an antique tallboy in which a large television and small fridge are cleverly concealed. Following the fabulous leopard carpet out of the door and back through the hallway past a walk-in wardrobe, you come to the bedroom. This has a more subtle silver-blue colour scheme and is dominated by a king-size silver sleigh bed piled high with pillows and cushions, and an elegant chaise longue in front of a large sash window. More boudoir than bedroom, it is filled with Prestonfield’s trademark collection of antique furniture, lamps and eclectic collection of paintings, prints and objets d’art. As in the drawing room, a tallboy conceals a fridge and another large television. The bathrooms (both with full-size bath) are no less glamorous, with gold and black mosaic tiles, marble floors and gilt-framed mirrors, and in each there is a pair of bathrobes and slippers plus two sets of thick white towels.

What Else Is There

The fact that Prestonfield has central Edinburgh’s only helipad speaks volumes about this place. It’s certainly good news if, like many of the luxury hotel’s rich, famous or royal guests, this is your preferred mode of transport. Once you alight from your helicopter, you might like to take afternoon tea – a Prestonfield tradition – by the fire in one of the four drawing rooms. The most impressive of these, the Tapestry Room, is apparently a favourite of Prince Charles, while another, the elegant Yellow Room is said to have been his grandmother’s preferred spot for a pre-dinner gin and tonic. In summer, you might like to have your tea and cakes served in the garden before heading, mallet in hand, to the croquet lawn. When it comes to dining at Prestonfield, the options are, as you’d expect, an adventure in indulgence. Its three historic private dining rooms are palatial, while the intriguing Salon Prive (with room for just two people) in one of Prestonfield’s stone turrets is a rare treat for romantics. For most, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the main restaurant, Rhubarb, which is divided between two decadently furnished rooms overlooking the gardens in the centre of the house. Like everything else at Prestonfield, breakfast is a grand affair with a distinctly Scottish flavour. And we’re not just talking porridge. After tea and coffee are delivered to the table in vintage silver pots, you can order from a range of cooked options including hot-smoked salmon, kedgeree, wood-smoked haddock and the ‘full Scottish’ complete with black pudding and haggis. For those who prefer something lighter, there’s a great range of homemade pastries, cereals, fruit, yoghurt and freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juices. 


The Verdict

Prestonfield is ultimately five-star decadence with more than a hint of the theatrical – a refreshing antidote to minimalism.

Prestonfield is located at Prestonfield House, Priestfield Road, Edinburgh, The hotel is 15 kilometres from Edinburgh airport or a five-minute taxi ride from Edinburgh’s main Waverley railway station.

Guest Writer: Harriet Upjohn