Tempus heads to Edinburgh to indulge in a pace-setting fusion of five-star hospitality and automotive luxury
We take the road less travelled by with Waldorf Astoria and Aston Martin's inspirational collaboration
Extended road trips across Europe and the United States are an authentic indulgence; a significant commitment, both in terms of time and logistics. Imagine then the convenience of flying into a place of natural beauty, checking into a world-class hotel and then having the luxury of an iconic Aston Martin to explore the environs to your heart’s content, returning to your sumptuous hotel for tea and tiffin – along with all the amenities for which the Waldorf Astoria hotels are renowned.
This is the vision of our hosts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Aston Martin Lagonda, who have invited Tempus to Scotland to participate in a new and exciting four-year global partnership, launched in 2019. It was the brands’ progressive marketing teams and think tanks who realised that, through a team approach, each brand could come together to create unique experiential breaks that promoted both brands by each playing to its obvious strength, creating a fantastically enjoyable, fresh and, above all, practical luxury experience.
Both Aston Martin and Waldorf Astoria display sound thinking. Here, Aston Martin embeds its brand at the heart of its current and potential clients’ interests, extending beyond just ownership into a full 360-degree immersive luxury lifestyle that includes unique experiences and even property ownership, thanks to new Aston Martin Residences projects being developed on both sides of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the Hilton-owned Waldorf Astoria team can offer their clients a new level of mobility with which to take the static luxury of their world and extend the envelope into the beauty of each hotel’s surroundings.
And it is beautiful. We travelled to the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian in the heart of Scotland’s capital city. With its rich history and impressive castle, you have a powerful fusion of interest, excitement and relaxation – all of which is easily condensed into a short break or long weekend, a perfect interlude to a busy lifestyle where time is at a premium. >>
The Caledonian is located on Princes Street in the historic centre of Edinburgh, and stands out against the city’s grey stone with its unusual red brick. Built in 1902, the hotel is unmistakably high Victorian in its design and detail. The interior is wide and spacious – with corridors you could literally drive an Aston Martin down, originally designed to allow gentlemen in top hats and ladies in the huge bell skirts and bustles to pass each other with ease. The grand oak staircase dominates the lobby floor, topped by a stunning brass chandelier descending from the roof – itself a masterpiece of engineering. There are 241 guest rooms and suites, many of which offer a fantastic view of nearby Edinburgh Castle thanks to the unusually long corridors and layout, as well as three restaurants, the Caley Bar, spa and fitness facilities and links to six of the region’s best golf courses. The design also provides many nods the hotel’s origins as a grand railway station, before it was lovingly and sensitively converted to its current grandeur.
To complement this wonderful venue, Aston Martin has delivered two of its new premium offerings, the latest V8 Vantage and the performance flagship of the DB11 range, the DB11 AMR, for guests to drive as part of their stay. Available on selected dates, guests can enjoy the city and its stunning West Highlands surrounds – including the famous Loch Lomond – at their leisure.
Having had some experience with the DB11, I was very keen to explore the ‘upgrade’ delivered by the Aston Martin Racing development team, who take an already exceptional performance car and make it even better. Increases in power from the 5.2 litre twin-turbo V12 add another 30hp under the bonnet, while the fusion of the eight-speed gearbox and uprated suspension make this a very elegant performance masterpiece a joy to drive. A tuned exhaust note in sport urges you to turn down the beautiful Bang & Olufsen sound system just to revel in the gear changes as you set the car up for corners. More responsive steering and noticeable suspension adjustments, which have largely removed any tramping on uneven road surfaces while cornering under power, all come together to deliver a noticeably sharper performance. The carbon fibre brakes enable you to effortlessly stand the car almost on its nose under braking, while the fine balancing prevents instability, albeit with a slight wander as the massive tyres investigate the camber. It’s all very manageable, yet still exhilarating. The only impediment to the mighty V12 DB11 AMR experience was the less-than-iconic Edinburgh rush-hour traffic, which cut short the test drive and left me wanting more. It certainly underlined the thinking behind marrying this iconic car with such luxury locations.
A thoroughly enjoyable experience which heralds a new era of thinking and cooperation between two luxury brands who are striving to offer their clients immersive experiences, which touch all the senses and widen the envelope of enjoyment. The true achievement of Waldorf Astoria and Aston Martin Lagonda is their shared ability to capture the imaginations of two different but clearly compatible client demographics, creating a winning formula for these leading brands who dominate their own space, but understand that their customers are looking for that little bit more. With similar partnership experiences offered by Waldorf Astoria hotels in Atlanta, Las Vegas and Dubai, we believe they have delivered exactly that.