Norton House Hotel offers everything you could either want or expect from a country house hotel. It stands in 55 acres of its own grounds and gardens, which form an oasis of calm amid the bustle of the western edge of Edinburgh. The grounds are bounded on the north by the A8, immediately beyond which is Edinburgh Airport. Access is either from the A8 or from a minor road running between Ratho and Ratho Station. You can read our dining review for Norton House Hotel here.
Norton House dates back to 1840, and was purchased in 1883 by John Usher, of the Edinburgh brewing family. In 1951, the house was sold for use as a hotel. It later became part of the Hand Picked Hotels group. The heart of the hotel remains the original country house built in 1840. Around half the 83 guest rooms are in the main house or in a wing built to the north of the east end of the hotel some years ago. The rest are in a newer wing to the north-west of the main hotel. To the north is the beautifully designed main conference centre with, below it, sunk into what was once the walled garden, the excellent spa facilities. The old stables to the west are home to The Gathering Conference Centre.
The hotel's main public areas offer country house character and atmosphere and the newer additions such as the Glass Lounge and Brasserie Restaurant have been sympathetically added. Guest bedrooms are found in several parts of the hotel: in the main house itself; in the east wing extension; and in the west wing extension. Guest rooms are classified as classic; executive; and junior suites; and there is one larger suite. The classic rooms are well equipped, while the executive rooms offer additional living space, a seating area, and a higher level of equipment. The junior suites offer split level accommodation with a mezzanine seating and desk area.
Functions, conferences and meetings form an important part of the hotel's business during the week, as do weddings at weekends. Because its function rooms are divided between the main hotel itself, the main conference centre in the old walled garden, and the Gathering Conference centre in the old stables, a number of functions can take place simultaneously without being obvious to one another or to guests simply staying in the hotel.
The excellent spa can be found on the lower floor of the main conference centre. Amenities on offer include an 18m heated indoor swimming pool, a hydrotherapy pool, an experience shower, a traditional sauna, a fitness gym, an exercise studio, seven treatment rooms and a lounge and bar area. It is fully accessible.
Disabled access to Norton House Hotel is good. Four of the guest rooms are fully accessible by disabled guests and equipped with wet rooms. All ground floor areas are fully accessible by wheelchair, and there is lift access to the first floor conference rooms in the main house. The main conference suite is fully accessible, as is the Gathering Conference Centre. The spa is accessible by lift. Disabled facilities are available for diners and those attending functions. Well signed disabled parking is available immediately outside the main entrance of the hotel.
We approached our visit to Norton House with high expectations, and found them exceeded on just about every level. The charm of the original interiors has been retained during successive sympathetic extensions. The choice of guest rooms on offer is wide and the level of furnishings and equipment is high. Quality of service and standards of housekeeping are exceptionally high and you get the sense throughout of a management team that is well established and constantly strives improve the guest experience and stay ahead of the day to day issues that inevitably arise. Downsides? Very few: the incremental growth of the hotel has led to an interior geography that can confuse in places as you make your way back to your room, but this is hardly a serious criticism. You can read our dining review for Norton House Hotel here.