For a long time, I thought this had something to do with whiskey being a spirit, but have since been told that this is unconnected and that I should stop trying to link things up just to make a punch line.
The Angels Share Hotel is in Edinburgh; walking distance from the castle and close to all the public transport hubs to get anywhere in the city. The lower floor features a high-windowed whiskey bar area that can create any number of spirit-based cocktails and whiskey tasting sessions are hosted there on a regular basis, thanks to the high-class aesthetic and ambience. This is somewhere you would go for a good drink, dressed in a three-piece suit, to meet interesting people from around the world.
As a self-confessed rum man, when I first arrived at the Angels Share I was, if I’m honest, more interested in having a place to lie down and sleep. I had been touring Scotland for my stand-up comedy show, had just finished a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was shattered. However, few hotels have stuck in my mind quite so much, just for their style.
There’s a formula to a good hotel: a comfortable bed, a shower with excellent pressure and a general sense of cleanliness. Adding to the formula is a choice made by individual hotels themselves and the Angels Share has done exactly that, by creating an atmosphere of solemn pride and coolness that is uniquely theirs.
The beds are gigantic and the mattresses are so supportive that they could have been designed with me in mind. The pillows are sumptuous clouds and the high ceilings in the room and the sheer walls give an atmosphere of space and luxury that is often missing in city centre hotels. But the best bit? Sleeping under the charming face of 007 himself, Sean Connery.
Room service is 24/7. So, when I was peckish at 1am in the morning, I called the lobby and asked if I could have some sandwiches brought up. Ten minutes later I was feasting on the chunkiest marvels of artisan bread and meat that I have ever enjoyed before, or since, while sitting in a comfortable armchair and looking out the window at a busy and bustling early morning Edinburgh. Delightful.
It wasn’t all perfect, however. For example, the sheer walls of the room were a little grubby at the upper corners and speckled with some cobwebs (both of which are forgivable, given the height of the ceiling) and in some of the areas the floorboards had created a little bit of a trip hazard. And while the bathroom certainly functioned perfectly, it was a little small for the grandiose nature of the room. However, these are all mute points when you have spent an evening sampling whiskey downstairs, as by the second night, I could hardly blame the uneven floorboards for my tripping over.
I like hotels that have character. Hotels that I can brag about. I liked the Angels Share because I had a reason to snap a selfie under Sean Connery and to tell people that I was at the Angels Share Hotel.
“The Angels Share?” they would ask.
“Yes, it’s the portion of whiskey that evaporates during the distilling process. It’s called the Angel’s Share.” I would reply.
“Oh, that is a wonderfully beautiful fact,” they would say, adding, “You are so knowledgeable and offer such insight into travel and accommodation Donnie.”
To which I would humbly salute them and say: