The Apex Waterloo Place Hotel stands, as the name suggests, on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh. This is an eastern extension of the better known Princes Street, but is not on any main through routes and could be a world away from the bustle of its better known neighbour. As a result the hotel is perfectly placed, only a short walk from the city's Waverley Station and close to everything this remarkably compact city has to offer: yet enjoying a surprisingly quiet location. You can read our dining review for Apex Waterloo Place Hotel here.
When the Waterloo Hotel, as it was then known, was opened by Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on 21 August 1819 it was Edinburgh's first large scale purpose built hotel. Designed by architect Archibald Elliot, it set out to to be bigger and better than anything else the city had to offer at the time, and succeeded. In 1898, however, the building was converted into offices for a railway company. It then spent more than a century as offices, most recently for Edinburgh City Council, before being purchased by Apex Hotels and after extensive conversion work, returned to its original use as a hotel. The Apex Waterloo Place Hotel opened its doors in March 2009.
The frontage of the hotel has been returned to its original splendour. Edinburgh is a city built on innumerable hills, and this can give rise to surprising changes of level. As a result the street entrance from Waterloo Place is on Floor 5 of a ten floor building. Internally you find the main public rooms are a nice fusion of modern, chic design with traditional touches like fireplaces and covings carried through from the original building. The heart of the hotel is the roomy reception area which opens out on one side into Elliot's Bar (it is good to see the original architect is not forgotten), a comfortable lounge bar that extends from the front to the rear of the hotel. Much of the rest of the frontage is taken up by Elliot's Restaurant, an extremely attractive dining area offering views out onto Waterloo Place, with a smaller annex on one side.
There are 187 en-suite guest bedrooms in the Apex Waterloo Place, divided between most of the hotel's floors. These comprise 130 City Rooms, 40 Superior Rooms, 11 Deluxe Rooms and 6 Suites. All come with 42" LCD TVs, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and broadband modem Internet, and all are comfortably sized. Superior Rooms add bathrobes, a fridge and a safe to the package, while Deluxe Rooms include the best views. And all rooms come with a complimentary mushroom-coloured Apex Duck.
There are five function rooms at the Apex Waterloo Place. These can accommodate meetings or events with between 20 and 180 participants. The stylish decor and high quality of the furnishings is in line with the rest of the hotel, and original features are more prominent in places, giving the function areas a particularly attractive feel. This has doubtless contributed to the hotel's growing popularity as a venue for weddings and receptions. On the 3rd floor of the hotel is Yu Spa, where hotel guests can enjoy the swimming pool, the sauna or the Technogym.
Disabled access to all major areas to the hotel is very good, including part of the restaurant, the meeting rooms, and the spa. Lifts connect all the floors, and where there are changes of level on a floor, wheelchair lifts are in place. Disabled toilets are provided, and a number of rooms adapted for wheelchair users are available.
City Centre hotels cater for a number of different markets and often have a fairly high turnover of fairly short stay guests. This can lead to a functional and at times impersonal feel. It is great to see that the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel very neatly sidesteps this tendency. The heritage of the building and the way it has been restored to its original use as a hotel contribute much to its distinctive character, while the excellent service from friendly and professional staff makes you feel like an individual. From the front desk to the restaurant, via the housekeeping staff you meet in the corridor, everyone has a smile and a greeting. Add in the already mentioned location in a remarkably quiet corner of the very centre of the city and you begin to think that Archibald Elliot would approve of what has become of his creation. You can read our dining review for Apex Waterloo Place Hotel here.