Edinburgh’s top hotels fail hygiene test

Three top Edinburgh hotels have fallen foul of inspectors working for the Food Standards Agency
Three top Edinburgh hotels have fallen foul of inspectors working for the Food Standards Agency
  • Report singles out the Caledonia
  • Scotsman Hotel also fares badly
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IT is one of Scotland’s most luxurious five-star hotels, with rooms costing £290 a night and a string of industry awards for its restaurants and spa.

But now it has emerged that the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian in Edinburgh has failed basic hygiene inspections by food safety authorities.

And it is one of a number of top Edinburgh hotels which have fallen foul of inspectors working to Food Standards Agency guidelines, including The Scotsman Hotel on North Bridge and the £75-a-night Apex Hotel at Haymarket.

An investigation by consumer group Which? into the results of food hygiene probes found the hotels were among 200 Scotland-wide told they needed to make improvements to meet national standards. More than 550 hotels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland also need to improve their standards.

Published in the latest issue of Which? Travel, the report singled out the Caley, which underwent a £24 million refurbishment four years ago.

“You’d think that you wouldn’t need to worry about kitchen cleanliness if you were paying a hefty whack for four-star or five-star hotels,” it said. “But among the accommodations needing to improve their food-hygiene practices are some luxurious establishments – including three popular hotels in Edinburgh and London.

“Spend £290 a night, and you might expect something special. But the five-star Caledonian Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh was given the lowest rating at its last inspection. And its swish neighbour, The Scotsman, fared equally badly, despite room rates of £175 a night.”

The report gave no details of why the hotels had failed food inspections however, and noted that when inspecting hotels and other businesses that sell food, local authorities look at all stages of a meal, from storage and cooking to serving, as well as the cleanliness of buildings and even administration processes.

Branches of the Doubletree by Hilton chain in Edinburgh and Dundee, and Motel One on Princes Street also required some improvement.

The Scottish system offers just two options to council inspectors – “pass” and “requires ­improvement”, while the rankings used in England and Wales allows each business to be ranked on a scale of one to five.

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: “The Food Standards Agency’s regulations are in place to protect members of the public. In Scotland a pass/fail system is used, meaning that a ‘fail’ can be given for infractions both serious and relatively minor.

“We know the Scottish tourism industry takes hygiene very seriously and are confident that the establishments given a 
fail rating will be taking swift steps to resolve any issues that have been highlighted by the FSA.”

In Scotland, unlike Wales and Northern Ireland, restaurants do not have to display their most recent food hygiene standard rating.

Caledonian Waldorf Astoria would not say why it had failed the inspection, but said it has made significant investment to address the issue and looks forward to its next inspection.

A spokesperson said: “Food hygiene is our absolute priority. Our team took immediate action to address concerns identified in October 2014 by the Edinburgh City Council’s Environmental Health Officer.

“We have a strong heritage in culinary excellence and our new culinary team has implemented stringent measures to ensure this situation does not recur. We welcome the Environmental Health Officer’s reinspection at their earliest convenience.”

A Hilton Worldwide spokesperson said, “Hilton Worldwide takes food safety extremely seriously and has an exceptional record. Our hotels take every measure to maintain standards and our record in food safety.

“All Hilton Worldwide hotels in the United Kingdom are required to comply with UK and European Union food safety laws. In this particular instance, each hotel acted immediately to address the Environmental Health Officers’ concerns. The DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre was recently awarded a pass by the Food Standards Agency. Since its inspection in October 2014, the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian has appointed a new culinary team and addressed concerns raised by the Environmental Health Officer. Both the DoubleTree by Hilton Dundee and the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian welcome reinspections at the Councils’ earliest convenience.

“It is important to note that the Food Standards Agency in Scotland grades businesses with a food hygiene rating of ‘pass’ or ‘improvement required’, without offering the public further context. We welcome a broader discussion regarding food hygiene reporting, to ensure consumers are provided with complete and consistent information.”

Motel One says it has implemented the suggested changes following its inspection.

The Scotsman Hotel did not respond to requests for comment.