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Review: the new Virgin Hotels Edinburgh – our first ever Virgin Hotels visit

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This is our review of Virgin Hotels Edinburgh.

I was in Edinburgh on Friday to see Sir Richard Branson officially open the new Virgin Hotels Edinburgh property. (He’s a busy man – Rhys will be in the US in 10 days to see him open Virgin Hotels New York!)

(EDIT: Here is our review of Virgin Hotels New York City from that stay.)

I stayed in the hotel the night before the event. I didn’t get to eat there, apart from breakfast, but I got a good feel for the place.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

You can currently redeem Virgin Points for this hotel via the Virgin Red app for a flat 35,000 Virgin Points per night. This HfP article has full details. You must stay by the end of April or between October and December 2023.

The hotel website is here.

This is our first ever Virgin Hotels review. This is not too surprising since, despite launching in 2015, there are only seven hotels to date and Edinburgh is the first outside the US. Glasgow is due to join it imminently.

A quick word on Virgin Hotels and hotel loyalty programmes

It’s a mess, basically, but less of a mess than it was. In simple terms:

  • Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is actually a Hilton hotel (website here) and takes part in Hilton Honors as part of the Curio Collection brand – you can earn and spend Hilton Honors points there if you book via
  • if you book direct at, you can earn 2,000 Virgin Points per stay if you join the free The Know membership scheme – except for Edinburgh, which doesn’t earn points
  • you cannot redeem Virgin Points for Virgin Hotels (even though you can redeem iPrefer points and, for Las Vegas, Hilton Honors points) except for the current 35,000 points Edinburgh offer which covers limited dates. Virgin Points redemptions for the other hotels are due to launch later this year.
Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

Where is Virgin Hotels Edinburgh?

Virgin Hotels Edinburgh is a conversion of the historic India Buildings on Victoria Street. It is just off the Royal Mile, opposite the Radisson Collection Hotel, the ex-Hotel Missoni.

(The hotel actually comprises three listed buildings, all of which were on the ‘at risk’ register, plus a plot of land which had been empty for 50 years. The website of architects Ica gives a good overview including a video.)

Whilst unbeatable for Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, you will struggle to get here by public transport from the airport if carrying luggage. This is a hilly and heavily pedestrianised part of the Old Town. If you have anything heavier than hand baggage I’d take a taxi, either from the airport or – if you take the tram – from the city centre. The tram is £6.50 one way per person so you may just want to jump in a taxi at the airport anyway.

My arrival was not good but you need to blame Google Maps. This is a 10 storey building which looks like a four storey one because it is built on a hill. Reception is actually on Level 6, which is at street level. I walked into Level 1, also street level, at the bottom of a hill. Level 1 only has the ‘Eve’ restaurant so you need to walk through this to get to the lifts which is not made clear.

Do yourself a favour and ensure you arrive via Victoria Street.

To show you how complex the building is, the picture above is the main entrance on Level 6. The picture below is the restaurant entrance, five floors below. This is a new build part of the property which itself is only six stories high, despite the entire hotel covering 10 stories:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

If you enter via Level 6, as you are meant to, you quickly realise that a huge amount of time and money has been spent on design – and it generally ‘works’. Here’s a corridor you pass through to reception (this is illuminated glass):

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

The reception desk is tiny and I couldn’t get a good picture. Reception level contains a lot of small nooks and crannies like this:


Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

and the ‘Commons Club’ bar:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh


Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

Here’s Sir Richard Branson with James Bermingham, CEO of Virgin Hotels, in Commons Club:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

The Commons Club also has a restaurant on the floor below, which I never saw.

There are lots of cute touches:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

Unless your room is in the original wing, it is very possible that you could miss the lovely ‘oculus’ dome in the original India Buildings part:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

There is a fitness centre, featuring Technogym equipment, but I didn’t visit. There is no pool, sauna or jacuzzi.

Planning a meeting or event? They have a cool space for that:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

My room at Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

I was given a ‘Commons King’ which is a standard room.

This was not a large room, although more than acceptable for a couple for a long weekend.

Gold members of Virgin Flying Club, as I am, receive a room upgrade and free breakfast, but my room had been booked as part of a larger group so it did not apply. If you are a Virgin Flying Club Gold member you should expect to get a bigger room than mine.

What is interesting is that, as soon as you enter, you have a sink to your right, in the hallway. The red door in the photo below is the entry door to the room, with the sink between two open wardrobes.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

If you look to your left as you enter the room, you have the loo and a shower (two shower heads, Arran toiletries in large but not bolted-down bottles), each behind glass doors, with this make up mirror in the hallway:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

There is a sliding door near the bed which closes off the hallway so that one of you can dry off after a shower in private.

I was impressed by the bed itself, which has a built-in sofa! Even better, the sofa has plugs and USB A chargers. There is also a decent sized table which you can work from.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

This angle shows the sofa / table, the sliding door and the entrance hallway:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

There was no view to speak of and, in any event, the window was a modest slit only taking up half of the wall.

Three macaroons and a bottle of water were waiting as welcome gifts. In the evening housekeeping a brought a 100ml pot of whisky-infused honey!

The minibar experience

I should mention the minibar, including a Smeg fridge. The hotel has clearly paid someone heavily to ‘curate’ a minibar experience. To some extent it doesn’t even matter what it contained – all you need to know is that the items on display were all achingly cool food and drink brands.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

Open the fridge and there was – amongst many other items – a can of Tennents lager (ok, not exactly ‘cool’) with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot sitting next to a bottle of Irn-Bru.

Even the coffee was cool, coming in posh coffee bags. Only the cartons of UHT milk spoiled the look. Two free Tunnock’s Caramel bars were provided to accompany your tea or coffee.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

I know this all sounds a bit silly but someone had probably spent weeks putting all these brands together. The fact that I didn’t touch any of the paid stuff was immaterial.

The roof terrace

I was on the 7th floor which also has a roof garden. I was struggling to see the point of this, partly because of the Scottish weather but also because there is no bar or anything here – just seating.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

More importantly, there are rooms – including the one I had – lining the corridor to the roof terrace. Even in April, with few visitors, it caused some disturbance. Try to avoid this part of the 7th floor if you can.

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

This view from the roof garden gives a good impression of how the hotel is built into a hill. This is the 7th floor. The 6th floor is street level to the north side (Royal Mile) whilst you can see how high you are from street level on the south (restaurant) side.

I kept taking the lift to reception because my head kept telling me I was on Level 7 and it was miles away – when it is literally 15 seconds if you take the stairs!

Breakfast at Eve restaurant

Breakfast is served in ‘Eve’, the retaurant on Level 1, which is street level at the back of the hotel.

It is as suitably funky as you may expect, with so much ‘going on’ in terms of design that this photo doesn’t explain much:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

There is also an outdoor terrace slotted into a gap between two parts of the property:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

Breakfast is a la carte only with 10 options (some with sub-options) ranging from porridge to pancakes to haddock to granola to avocado to butties. The menu was unpriced so I don’t know what you are charged if breakfast is not included. I also don’t know if you pay more if, as I did, you choose two items.

Here’s my salmon and scrambled egg, which was very good:

Review Virgin Hotels Edinburgh

Breakfast was the only time that I really interacted with the hotel staff, and they were all charming. Either I got lucky or the hotel has followed Virgin Atlantic in hiring on the basis of personality, teaching the skills later.


I liked Virgin Hotels Edinburgh and would happily go back with my family. Whilst sophisticated, this is definitely not meant to be a W-style adults only place.

Despite my inauspicious arrival via the modern extension, six floors below reception level, I quickly cheered up and was won over the sheer effort that has gone into the design of the rooms and public areas.

It felt a bit like one of the newer Hotel Indigo properties (eg Hotel Indigo Bath which I reviewed here) and if you like those then you’ll like this. I hope Virgin Hotels Glasgow can keep up this standard, especially as Glasgow is more in need of a great new hotel. There is a lot of competition in Edinburgh but I think Virgin Hotels Edinburgh will be able to carve out its niche.

Remember that you can book for selected dates for 35,000 Virgin Points per night via Virgin Red – details in this article.

The Virgin Hotels Edinburgh website is here.

Thanks to the Virgin Red team for arranging my stay.

Hotel offers update – June 2023:

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Want to buy hotel points?

  • Hilton Honors is offering a 100% bonus when you buy points by 18th July. Click here.
  • IHG One Rewards is offering an 80% bonus when you buy points by 7th June. Click here.
  • Marriott Rewards is offering a 30%-50% bonus when you buy points by 2nd July. Click here.

Comments (51)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Ryan says:

    Simply pop ‘Buckfast Violence’ into any search engine and you will see how the hotel has got this so, so wrong.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Could be they don’t expect people to act like animals and enjoy one small tipple Vs getting legless on cheap booze

  • Jake says:

    Can confirm – a really nice hotel. Stayed last August and was a great break. Highly recommend

  • Travel Strong says:

    Anyone else really interested to try buckfast now? Never heard of it this morning. Now I am intrigued to try “7 x the caffeine of coke in a bottle of fortified wine” . Sounds great, and hats off to buckfast if their marketing team got the product placement and the resultant social media stir 😁

    • AviosNovice says:

      If you’ve tried ANY other wine and liked it, you’ll hate Buckfast. Stay close to a toilet the morning after!
      Still, no worse a marketing relationship than BA and their love affair with Brewdog.

    • Travel Strong says:

      Perfect! I have never liked any wine 😅

  • Colin MacKinnon says:


    The best thing about Edinburgh/Glasgow is the Glasgow/Edinburgh train! (choose one city from that pair and match with the other)

    Two cities divided – yes, that’s the word – by just 50 miles.

    Buckfast is definitely Glasgow – not Edinburgh. As Justerini & Brooks – J&B Whisky – in George St, Edinburgh put it in a car sticker when the West boasted: Glasgow’s Miles Better!

    Edinburgh: Slightly Superior!

    ps Healthy life expectancy Glasgow: c55 years. Edinburgh c65 years!

  • Sean C says:

    Wow – who knew a simple bottle of Buckfast could get so many people bent out of shape! I used to work in off-licenses around Tollcross, Bruntsfield and Morningside, hardly flooded with folk from the schemes, and probably sold more of that than any champagne! (Although we did get a lovely woman every Xmas who’d always buy multiple crates of Taittinger with her Coutt’s card because it was always on offer at Xmas).

    The few times I had to work on Glasgow in a store which operated more like a late night petrol station than any normal shop due to people telling us what to grab and walking around the shop for them to prevent stock loss, I can tell you people were getting smashed on £8 bottles of unbranded vodka and whiskey, not Buckfast.

    Maybe I’m personally biased, I quite like a Buckfast every now and then. I even brought a bottle for my Scottish girlfriend to our first date/around her birthday which we’re saving for a special occasion!

    Hotel looks really lovely, but as with virtually all hotels in the UK now, the covid curse and diabolically bad exchange rates, the opportunity to take advantage of the tourist market means there is zero chance of me staying in them at these prices.

  • His Holyness says:

    They have those “posh coffee bags” at some bog standard Hiltons.

  • Martin says:

    Could you clarify whether the welcome gift were macarons or macaroons or macaroon bars (eg from Lee’s of Coatbridge)?

    • Andrew. says:

      Surely not Lee’s macaroon bars when they’ll have their own Pâtissier!

      Bound to be made fresh daily in house using the finest Scottish maris pipers.

  • Tom C says:

    I too was at my first Virgin Hotel on Friday – Moskito Island in the British Virgin Islands. Practically the same thing.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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