Brooks Hotel is a gorgeous boutique style bed & breakfast located in Edinburgh's west end. Formerly the Herald House Hotel, the building, a fine Victorian townhouse, was recently acquired by Brooks, who run 2 other successful guesthouses in Bath and Bristol; as such the rooms in Edinburgh have been given a modern refresh (some refurbishment in the stairwell and 1st floor was still taking place when we visited).
We were greeted at reception with the offer of a tour around the property, which we gladly accepted once we dropped our bags off at the room upstairs, the key to which had a sporran key-ring attached - look out for lots of other Scottish touches around the hotel as the hallway is filled with pictures of "Auld Reekie" (old Edinburgh) and references to the Scottish countryside are throughout. Bedrooms are on the 1st and 2nd floors and there is a small lift to take you there.
Our room was spacious with a compact modern en-suite (shower only). If you look out the window on the left below you can see a remnant from bygone days - an old stairwell which is no longer in use. Back downstairs we were given our tour...
The Dining Room
Brooks Hotel does not provide evening meals, instead preferring to focus on quality of the bed and breakfast, despite that there is a "dining" room which can be used by guests. Brooks will happily recommend a number of good quality restaurants in the nearby vicinity, and we agree with the choices as we've visited and recommend many of them ourselves!
Clean, bright, kitted-out & ready for the next morning.
A cosy, spacious informal lounge area with a good amount of seating - there's a private courtyard on the other side of the curtains too...
Some of those countryside references mentioned earlier - there's a bit of a hunting lodge theme here...
With a warm inviting fireplace with paintings of countryside landscapes on the wall...
And novel lamps lighting the room! There are also a number of candles dotted around the room if you want to turn the lighting down and the romance up...
But our favourite bit was...
The Honesty Bar!
Simply take what you want and note it down on the sheet along with your room number. A good selection of drinks was provided - far higher than a typical mini-bar, including 6 single malts, 2 blends, 2 vodkas, 2 gins etc and a variety of beer and soft drinks in the fridge below. There are also crisps and nuts etc. We understand that the honesty bar does work and guests are...well, honest!
Unfortunately when we visited the weather wasn't too great so we have no shots of the private courtyard but it will be a great asset for summer. Worth noting is that there are umbrellas at reception which are available to guests in case it does rain and you haven't packed any.
There are also 2 internet equipped PCs in the hallway but free WIFI is provided and the signal extends to the bedroom and seemed to be pretty fast when we used it.
After our tour we were provided with restaurant recommendations and directions on how to get to each. When we returned later that night the staff greeted us again and we found some guests relaxing in the lounge and making use of the honesty bar. It was all quite civilized! Everyone looked happy and we slept well in the comfy bed without any noise from other guests.
We were welcomed by staff and quickly seated at a table with tea and coffee quickly delivered, both were strong and unwatery.
There's a cold buffet with a selection of 5 different cereals, 3 fruit juices, yogurt, toast, jam, marmalade and a number of condiments (including Marmite!) Cereals are labelled and presented in Kilner jars on a single breakfast table and some of the items are homemade, such as the sweet and crunchy honey granola which was among the best I've ever tasted and made a brilliant way to start the day.
Eggs Benedict - simply delicious. Toasted crumpets with tasty bacon, perfect "medium-cooked" poached eggs and non-acidic hollandaise sauce. Perfect!
Full Scottish breakfast with choice of poached or scrambled egg. The items were mainly grilled rather than fried so you could enjoy the fry-up without feeling so guilty. The sausages were really meaty though a wee bit fatty but all the meat is from a locally recommended butcher so you can be assured of the quality. It was also very welcome to see both tattie scone and haggis on the menu!
Another of the homemade items are muffins. A great idea but the ones we had were a bit dry and could perhaps do with more fruit or cinnamon.
Check out was hassle-free and the group in front of us were full of compliments for the hotel and staff.
Brooks excels itself in so many areas: the warm greeting we received at reception, the restaurant recommendations, the spacious bedroom and comfortable bed, the free WIFI in the room, the excellent breakfast with the homemade touches and the honesty bar so there's really not much to fault at all, the only issues we had were minor, such as there being no "do not disturb" door hanger in our room and the sign taking us there from the lift being a bit misleading but these are remnants from the Herald House hotel days and are being addressed. The breakfast times listed in the in-room information booklet also differ to what's displayed in the Breakfast Room but as the hotel is still young we were assured that they are simply working towards finding a breakfast slot which suits their guests as much as possible.
Unfortunately we never got to see the Herald House Hotel so can't compare the before-and-after difference but Carla Brooks and staff have certainly done a wonderful job creating a clean, modern and relaxing boutique hotel in the city-centre of Edinburgh. The presentation is excellent throughout - entrance/reception: clean, warm and welcoming, staff: inviting and approachable, breakfast buffet: well-presented etc, so good value-for-money is provided. It's an ideal place for couples on a romantic getaway or for anyone on business or attending an event at the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) which is just a short walk away. We would certainly stay here again and the sister hotels in Bath and Bristol will be top of our list for next time we are down Somerset way.
Brooks isn't in the old or new towns proper but it's only a 15 - 20 minute walk to the castle or Waverley train station, Prices St etc but the location is still great for cafes, pubs (many of the craft ale variety) and restaurants.
One word of warning, if you intend to drive here, the Edinburgh tram works are on-going and Grove St is one-way only, so approach from the south, but you will not be able to turn in from Lothian Rd northbound at the main crossroads (Fountainbridge) as the left hand lane is a bus lane so turn in at either of the previous 2 streets (West Tollcross or Thornybauk). If travelling southbound down Lothian Rd you can turn right into Fountainbridge. We didn't know this and ended up going round in circles! Some parking is available a bit further down Grove St but only after 5:30/6:30 at night for non-permit holders. Check before doing so or speak to the hotel about the £12 all day deal for the nearby NCP car park.