14 Scotland A night in Edinburgh CN editor Martin Fullard takes a tour of the Scottish capital he flight to Edinburgh from London is little over an hour, which is less than a lot of our commutes. Edinburgh is a laid-back sort of city, and this becomes clear when exiting the airport. You exit the terminal building and just 20m from the doors is the tram, a direct route to the city centre which takes barely 30 stress-free minutes. I arrived in West End, near Princes Street, and walked for only a couple of minutes to the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The Sheraton Grand is a great snapshot of what Edinburgh is about: it’s unique in the brand with its own off-brand style. After a light lunch of salad and lamb, I was offered a quick tour of the hotel’s conference and meetings facilities. There are 14 events rooms and 12 breakout spaces across nearly 1,000sqm. The largest suite can hold up to 500 delegates and the usual bells and whistles are provided. The hotel is the largest conference and banqueting hotel in the city and sits opposite the city’s premier venue: the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). After the Sheraton tour I popped over to the Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square (pictured above left), where I would be staying for the night. A fabulous hotel room was provided to me which overlooked Charlotte Square itself and came equipped with all the mod-cons that the discerning delegate would expect, and then some. The mattresses are especially soft, and the furniture high-spec. A mini-bar packed full of Scottish favourites was – literally – the icing on the cake. For dinner I joined a delegation of Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) members, and wow we were in for a treat. The venue was the National Museum of Scotland. Built in 1866 and renovated in 2011, the museum redefines the ‘wow’ factor when it comes to the delegate www.conference-news.co.uk experience. A delicious 3-course meal of Scottish favourites was paired with specific wines, and an interactive dessert competition saw the merriment hit new heights. Come home time, the magnificent, purple-lit hall echoed with the sound of bagpipes as we stumbled out back to our hotels. The following day I took a tour of the EICC. The venue may be confined in the city in terms of its footprint, but its vertical structure is a trove of secrets. The Pentland auditorium looks like a conventional circular theatre, and indeed it is… until you realise that at the back the two cylindrical walls are actually two rotating platforms that sees the previously separate Sidlaw and Fintry auditoriums appear from nowhere. Add to this the mysterious rising platforms that transform the Lennox Suite from a large exhibition hall into a 42-tiered multi-purpose theatre. Edinburgh mixes old and new and comes up a winner.