As any parent of young children knows, the opportunity to catch up with friends on a child-free break doesn’t come around all that often. So when my friend Brenda suggested we have a girls’ weekend away in Edinburgh, I jumped at the chance.
We both live close to Edinburgh, so the Scottish capital seemed the perfect place to head to for a girls weekend. After all, the city combines cosmopolitan elegance with spectacular scenery. Oh – and some seriously stylish hotels.
We opt for the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, close to the bars and shops on Princes Street, and therefore ideally situated for an indulgent child-free break. The hotel looks as though it’s been lifted from the pages of an upmarket interiors magazine. There are velvet chairs, luxurious beds and a glass-walled bathroom. And a glance out the window reveals stunning views of the castle.
Spa: When we step through the glorious One Spa’s doors, the first thing I am struck by is the noise – or the complete lack of it. Brenda’s booked in for a special pregnancy massage and, as she heads off with her spa therapist, I try to decide how best to spend the 55 minutes in which she’s being pampered. I’m spoilt for choice. The spa is home to a pool, gym and café, as well as a hammam, several saunas and even a tepidarium (no, I’m not sure either). But none of these can compete with the lure of a heated spa chair and the space to read a magazine in peace.
Food: That evening, we sit down to dinner in the hotel’s One Square restaurant, which overlooks Festival Square and beautiful Usher Hall. There’s a very refined cocktail bar but, as we’re both starving, we cut straight to our table in the dining area, with its stylish multi-coloured lighting and Ercol-style seats.
And unlike many top-class dining experiences, the service is natural, relaxed and lacking insnootiness. For our mains, we both opt for cuts of prime fillet Scottish steak and crispy fries, cooked to perfection.
The highlight of the meal, though, comes in the form of puddings. One Square ingeniously matches its dishes to specialist dessert cocktails, so my rhubarb cheesecake with a crunchy ginger-nut base is served with a fabulous rhubarb daiquiri made with Havana Club rum, homemade sorbet and freshly squeezed lime juice. Brenda’s dessert tops mine. We both marvel as her After Eight mint sphere, served with ice-cream, melts enticingly as the waiter pours hot chocolate sauce onto it from a height.
The hotel: Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa (0131 229 9131). Club rooms from £235 per night, including breakfast. Doubles from £185.