Scotland is stunning. From ancient forests and seductive lochs to historic castles and beautiful bluffs, it's a magical place full of unique people, sights and experiences. Just ask the English; they've spent centuries going there on holiday. But Scotland is more than a playground for vacationing Brits. Thanks to a rapidly rising profile -- Lonely Planet named the Scottish Highlands and Islands as one of its top travel destinations of 2019 -- it's quickly making a name for itself as a global meeting destination.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, where a growing and diverse mix of hotels -- large and small, old and new -- is making it easier than ever for groups to say "aye!" to a Scottish meeting.
The city's newest hotel, the first property in Scotland for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, is the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, parent company InterContinental Hotels Group announced this week.
"We are very excited to build our presence in the luxury market in Scotland as we introduce the Kimpton brand," said Karan Khanna, managing director, the U.K. and Ireland, for IHG, which will invest even further in the country later this year with new Kimpton hotels in Glasgow and Manchester, and an InterContinental property in Edinburgh. "Edinburgh has a real demand for a lifestyle luxury brand, and I'm confident that Kimpton's relaxed approach to luxury will suit the market well."
Located in Edinburgh's New Town neighborhood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is known for its Georgian period architecture, the Kimpton Charlotte Square comprises seven interconnecting Georgian townhouses that collectively offer 184 guest rooms and 15 suites. With views of the world-famous Edinburgh Castle, the rebranded property -- which previously operated as the Principal Charlotte Square -- also offers two restaurants, a refurbished gym, a spa and 7,147 square feet of meeting space.
"Kimpton has built its brand on the belief that heartfelt human connections make people's lives better. We inspire curiosity and embrace people exactly as they are, creating truly meaningful guest experiences," said general manager Johan Scheepers. "Each Kimpton hotel is an escape from the ordinary, and the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel will offer a vibrant Scottish service full of charm and personality in one of the world's most historic cities."
Four More Excellent Edinburgh Hotels
The Kimpton Charlotte Square joins good company. Here are four more Edinburgh hotels that prove Scotland is as ready for global meeting groups as it is for tourists:
• The Balmoral. Operated by Rocco Forte Hotels, the historic Balmoral opened in 1902 and has been a mainstay of Scottish hospitality ever since. A famous destination for celebrities and royals -- including author J.K. Rowling, who finished writing the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, while staying here -- it will be the site of Northstar Meetings Group's 2019 Global Incentive Summit, taking place in Edinburgh Nov. 3-6. Along with 160 guest rooms and 20 suites, the hotel has five restaurants and bars, including the Michelin-starred Number One; a spa with five treatment rooms; a gym and yoga studio; a swimming pool; a sauna and a steam room, and 10 meeting rooms for groups of up to 450 people.
• The Glasshouse. Before it was a hotel, The Glasshouse was a church. Constructed in 1846, the Lady Glenorchy Chapel stopped hosting worshippers in 1978 and became the centerpiece of a new boutique property in 2003. Now part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, that hotel has 77 guest rooms, a 2-acre rooftop garden, a bar specializing in hard-to-find whiskies and four meeting spaces: the 40-person Boardroom, which sits below the original church window of the Lady Glenorchy Chapel; the Walter Scott and Louis Stevenson boardrooms, each of which hosts up to 14 people; and the Carlton Suite, a windowed meeting suite for up to 110 people on the aforementioned rooftop garden.
• Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian. Yet another historic hotel that's perfectly primed for the modern age is the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - the Caledonian. Originally opened in 1903, the 241-room property claims to have "the largest number of rooms with views of Edinburgh Castle in the city." There's also a spa with a swimming pool, whirlpool and fitness center; five restaurants and bars, and 8,000 square feet of meeting space for groups of up to 500.
• Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh. Much newer than the city's most historic hotels -- it opened in 1985 and was last renovated in 2012 -- the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh offers a memorable stay thanks to One Spa, a renowned thermal spa that boasts a rooftop hydropool, a Himalayan salt room and a thermal suite in which guests can partake in a range of relaxing water, salt and heat experiences. The property also has 269 guest rooms, a restaurant, a bar whose specialty is gin, and 10,636 square feet of meeting space for groups of up to 1,000.