This is our review of the Kimpton Charlotte Square hotel in Edinburgh.
Kimpton is not a brand you might be familiar with in the UK. The chain was only in the US when IHG bought it back in 2014. The first European property was Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam, which we have reviewed twice (see our latest Kimpton De Witt review here).
Back in 2018, IHG announced it was purchasing the small UK hotel chain Principal and rebranding many of them as Kimpton. Kimpton did not, at the time, have any UK presence.
Principal Charlotte Square is one of these properties and re-opened in March under the new name. You can also see Rob’s mini-review of the Principal Manchester which is still transitioning to the new brand. I also visited Principal St. Davids Cardiff which ended up as a voco (review here). We have also had a tour of London’s Kimpton Fitzroy which you can read here and which may be the best IHG hotel in London.
You can see the Kimpton Charlotte Square page on the IHG website here.
IHG offered us a free night at Kimpton Charlotte Square. I was up in Edinburgh to review the new Aspire Lounge at Edinburgh Airport, which you can read here.
Our review of Kimpton Charlotte Square
Kimpton Charlotte Square is housed in several former Georgian town houses, although it has been a hotel since the mid 1800s. If you know Edinburgh it is very conveniently located just off the west end of Princes Street. It is within short walking distance of pretty much all the major Edinburgh attractions and shops.
(As an aside this was my first time in Edinburgh and I was surprised at the beauty of the city but also how compact the city centre is. It is very, very doable on foot.)
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge:
The main entrance is through the front door of one of the original town houses, which gives the hotel a lovely homely feel. Here is the lobby:
I was quickly checked in and given a ‘Superior Townhouse’ room on the second floor, which had views over Charlotte Square itself. Unfortunately I was too late for the classic Kimpton ‘Wine Hour’ from 5pm-6pm which happens across the Kimpton chain.
My room was in one of the original buildings. (There are also rooms in a newer wing):
It was a generous size, with plenty of space on either side of the bed. On the far wall is a small writing desk as well as wardrobe with mini-fridge, coffee and tea facilities, safe, umbrella and yoga mat (!)
…. whilst there were two high-backed armchairs and table near the door:
The TV is mounted opposite the bed, between two windows.
The bathroom at Kimpton Charlotte Square
The bathroom is an elongated shape but again a decent size:
It features a shower-over-tub and Master Vetivert toiletries.
I did notice, however, that no hand soap was provided, with only hand lotion at the sink. After asking at reception I was provided with a small wrapped bar of soap as well as an extra bottle of body wash. I got the impression that hand soap was not standard – I’m not sure if the hand lotion was meant to be liquid soap and had been placed there in error.
Kimpton Charlotte Square has a spa with pool, sauna and steam room as well as gym. Both facilities are in the basement of the hotel, and come with a changing room.
There were several people using the facilities when I went down to check it out, so I didn’t take any photographs. The pool is atmospherically lit and both the steam room and sauna are nicely appointed. Here is a stock photo:
The gym positively surprised me. It is remarkably big, although due to the restrictions of the basement it takes up a series of adjacent rooms and alcoves and is hard to photograph:
This is one of the better hotel gyms I have seen, with plenty of cardio and weight lifting equipment. There were two personal trainers working with clients at the time I went – I’m not sure if these are hotel guests or external customers using the facilities, as is sometimes the case.
Back upstairs, the hotel has several rooms of casual seating akin to a lounge:
….. which is great for business meetings or when you need a quiet spot to work. I’m not sure if they are serviced by the cafe or bar (I assume they are) but they are a nice place to hang out.
The Kimpton Charlotte Square has two restaurants on site: The Garden and BABA. The Garden, which is in a glass conservatory in between the different wings is a more ‘typical’ restaurant serving a range of burgers, steak, pizza etc. BABA is a speciality Lebanese restaurant and appears to attract significant external custom.
It’s not often that a hotel has a Lebansese themed restaurant so I chose to have dinner at BABA. It is a very atmospheric, dimly lit restaurant although it has large floor to ceiling windows on two sides. There are a range of tables booth and bar seating, as well as a large shared table, which is where I sat.
I went for the baba ganoush:
…. as well as chargrilled prawns:
…. and iberico pork neck, mojo verde, pineapple and lardo:
The irony of going to a Lebanese restaurant and ordering pork rather than lamb was not lost on me. The food was excellent and fresh, and the menu and Mezze style dining means that you can experiment with lots of different dishes which I always enjoy. If you are nearby I would recommend BABA even if you are staying elsewhere.
Breakfast at Kimpton Edinburgh
Breakfast is served in the aforementioned Garden restaurant:
The main focus is the a la carte menu. If you are in a hurry, there is a small buffet with juices, cereals, yoghurts, fruit and smoked salmon:
The majority of the food is cooked to order from an a la carte menu. This was a refreshing change and a relaxing way to start the day. I ordered the full Scottish breakfast:
…. which came with haggis. I have never had haggis before so I had to try it and it was remarkably good. If I had not known what it was made of I would have enjoyed it a lot more, however! The bacon, however, was a bit overdone.
Barring the odd case of the missing soap, Kimpton Charlotte Square has a lot to offer and I was very pleased with my stay. I was particularly impressed by the leisure facilities which were clean, modern and clearly well looked after.
The food was good too and serving Lebanese food in BABA makes the restaurant stand out. If you’re not a fan of Lebanese food there is also the option of The Garden or, of course, you can take a short walk into further into town. (There is a Las Iguanas opposite, although that is clearly a downgrade.)
Remember that you should aim to arrive before 5pm if you want to make the most of the Wine Hour.
As an IHG Rewards Club redemption you are looking at 55,000 points per night. This is very poor value off season, when rooms can cost as little as £115. Using points might make more sense as you get into the Summer peak.
Rob’s valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point is 0.4p so you should be saving rather than spending your points unless your room will cost more than £200.
You can see more about Kimpton Charlotte Square on the IHG website here. Thank you to the hotel team for arranging my stay.
IHG Rewards update – January 2022:
Get bonus points: IHG Rewards will be running a ‘Double Points’ promotion from 1st February to 31st March 2022. You can register here.
Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards points, you can buy them here.
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