Last month, I had the pleasure of staying at The Glasshouse Hotel in Edinburgh, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection of boutique properties. Admittedly I was cheating on Hyatt here, as there are currently no Hyatt options in or near any major cities in Scotland – in fact, the only Hyatt property in Scotland is in a remote area near the border with England (though this will change in 2025 with the new Centric near Haymarket Station). The hotel is situated right in the heart of Edinburgh, and I was pleasantly surprised by my stay. Here’s my review of this unique establishment.
The hotel’s location is tough to beat. It is nestled in the city center, conveniently located on a square, just steps away from the Picardy Place tram stop. This hotel is a mere one tram stop away from Waverley Station and a 45 minute tram ride directly to and from Edinburgh Airport (EDI). Moreover, it’s a short walk to St. James Quarter, where I recommend snagging a reservation at Duck & Waffle. Be prepared to walk up and down some steep gradients – though that’s more of an Edinburgh problem than a problem with this specific property.
The Glasshouse Hotel boasts 77 rooms, including 17 suites, each named after a Scottish whisky or whisky region. No two rooms are alike, as the hotel is a historic building. The rooms are well-appointed, with many (but not all – mine did not) featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and blackout curtains, perfect for the long summer days at such a high latitude. While my view was nothing to write home about, featuring an office building, some parts of the hotel offer a distant view of the Firth of Forth. Each room features a complimentary minibar, restocked daily by the housekeeping team; while this was a wonderful and unique feature to have, the hotel could do a better job of communicating that the minibar’s contents are free to take. If I’d known that from the get-go, it would have saved me a trip across the square to Tesco after a very long travel day.
The hotel’s layout is one of the most bizarre I’ve encountered in any hotel, which I supposed is expected in a historic church repurposed into a hotel. If your room isn’t on the 3rd floor, be prepared for a bit of a hike. You’ll need to take the elevator from the lobby to the 3rd floor, as it does not access floors 1 or 2 – the staff cited UK historical preservation regulations as the reason, though I suspect the real reason is those elevator landings likely connect back to the OMNi Centre (more on that in a sec). From there, you must navigate a long hallway to reach the Snug bar and then walk down a staircase (an elevator is available within a nearby fire escape).
I almost never accept offers from hotel staff to personally show me to my room and help with my luggage, but Morgan at the front desk insisted due to the unusual layout of the facility. Indeed, I’m not sure I would have located my room without his help, and I’m not normally one to be directionally-challenged – the layout was simply that strange. Pro tip: the fire escape that contains the elevator is a much more convenient way to exit the hotel, though re-entry still requires a trek through the lobby.
As a lowly Bonvoy Gold Elite member, I went in with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised that the hotel went above and beyond the published tier benefits. I was upgraded to a larger and newly remodeled king room on the first floor, which was relatively spacious even by American standards and massive by European standards. I received two drink coupons for the bar, which is not a normal elite benefit but was a welcome gesture. I also managed to secure a 2 pm checkout at the last minute, after KLM offered me significant compensation to move to a later flight following an equipment swap from a 737-800 down to a -700. All Bonvoy members enjoy a 10% discount on all food and beverages at the Snug, regardless of their status.
The service at The Glasshouse Hotel was exceptional and the staff very warm and friendly, as expected in Scotland. Every member of the staff, from management to housekeeping, went out of their way to ensure a memorable stay. One manager, hailing from Poland, even took the time to personally escort me through a staff corridor to show me her favorite view of the Firth of Forth from the hotel. We had a wonderful conversation, and she even jotted down recommendations for my next destination in Europe, Amsterdam.
During my stay, I noticed that nearly all of the clientele were Americans. According to the staff, the hotel and Edinburgh as a whole used to be popular with guests from Asia. However, even as pandemic-era travel restrictions have eased, guests from Asia have yet to return in significant numbers. That said, Americans have flocked to Edinburgh in droves to pick up the slack, with even JetBlue adding nonstop flights from JFK to EDI (if anyone from AA is reading this… hint hint). Despite the way American tourists are perceived in many parts of the world, the Scottish seem to genuinely like and welcome us, and the hotel staff were certainly no exception.
One of the standout features of this hotel is the rooftop garden. It offers stunning views of Calton Hill and, in the far corner, the Firth of Forth. It also contains a small wedding/event venue, but during my stay, guests were up there simply enjoying the warm, sunny weather.
Food and Beverage
The hotel’s Snug Lounge on the 3rd floor is the centerpiece of the hotel… which it sounds strange that the centerpiece would be on the 3rd floor, but again, the layout is odd. It features an indoor fire pit and offers locally sourced Scottish cuisine, afternoon tea, and whisky tastings. While I didn’t dine there, I did use my drink coupons at the bar. Haig, the bartender, made excellent recommendations, and his captivating Scottish storytelling added to the ambiance – the stories would be outlandish anywhere else, but in a magical place like Edinburgh, anything seems believable. The Brasserie, which offers breakfast only, received mixed reviews. As a Gold member, I was not entitled to complimentary breakfast, so I opted to explore local restaurants instead.
One aspect worth noting is that the hotel is not a standalone building but is built into the margins of the OMNi Centre, a small shopping mall with various dining and entertainment options. Much of the hotel’s namesake glass facade belongs to the mall, not the hotel itself. While I experienced no noise issues, some guests have reported hearing loud music from bars and restaurants in the mall inside their rooms, so be aware of this when booking.
Additionally, not long after my stay, an incredibly bright advertising display was installed on the side of the building, and I’d have to think that might be disruptive to sleep. Despite facing away from the building, the layout of the square and the sheer brightness might still cause the display board to impact your sleep quality.
Those who enjoy more boutique-type properties and aren’t dissuaded by the price tag (and relative lack of amenities for a full-service property) will absolutely love this hotel. However, while I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at The Glasshouse Hotel and was impressed by the exceptional service, I might hesitate to stay again. The rates at this hotel usually exceed £300 per night (and often north of £500), which I found challenging to justify given this is a boutique hotel in a secondary European market. The Great Scotland Yard Hotel by Hyatt often commands comparable pricing, but the hotel is much better, and it’s steps from Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross Station in central London! Marriott Bonvoy points are a better value, clocking in between 40k-65k points many nights with Marriott’s fully dynamic award pricing.
Additionally, most of us will likely be better served by some interesting Edinburgh properties currently in the pipeline, both of which will feature a more comprehensive range of amenities (and hopefully, a better layout). As a Hyatt Globalist, I’d find it tough to cheat on Hyatt for this property once the Hyatt Centric Edinburgh Haymarket opens in 2025. For Marriott loyalists, the highly anticipated W Edinburgh (or as the locals call it, the “poop building”), slated to open in just a few short weeks, is just steps away, attached to St. James Quarter. These may be worthwhile alternatives for your next visit to Edinburgh.