Edinburgh is a must see, so too the highlands! We were under the impression that the trip to Scotland would be by train, and not coach. Surprise! Prepare yourself for nine hours on the bus! The coach itself has been around the block a few times. No wifi, very dirty windows that made sightseeing a challenge! Great tour leader and excellent driver, though.
If you take this tour be aware that it departs at 10:00 pm from Hatton Cross Station which way out there towards Heathrow. We took the tube from central London about 1 hour. When we got to the station we thought we could grab some snacks to take with us on our overnight coach ride. The station is not what you would expect. The little convenience store was already closed and there were no restrooms. We had to cross a busy highway there were crossing lights in the dark and walk over to a gas station where they had a store and toilets. The ride up went smoothly. When we arrived in Edinburgh we immediately started our walking tour. My husband and I broke off from the group because we are older most people were young students and were afraid we wouldn't be able to keep up. We took a Hop-on Hop-off tour on our own. That went well and we loved the city of Edinburgh. We met our coach and tour guide Richard back at the drop off point at 7 pm and headed off toward our accommodations, making a couple of stops along the way. We stayed at Stirling College in Stirling quiet a ways from Edinburgh. We arrived on campus around 8:30 and were dropped off and given keys to our dorm room. We shared and apartment with 5 other people. The room was so small that we had to climb over each other to get out of bed to go down the hall and use the bathroom during the night. At first we had no towels and there, of course no toiletries or even a cup to use in brushing our teeth. I called Richard to tell him and he told me I had to walk back to reception to ask for towels. I did that and the young man was surprised that we had no towels. He immediately came up with towels for everyone in the apartment and showed us where we could find cups in a kitchenette attached to the dorm rooms. Apparently, Richard did tell the group that they should eat while in town but since most of the students were foreigners and had very limited English, most of them went without having eaten and had to wait til breakfast. Breakfast was served across campus, supposedly at 7:30 when we got there they said it was only served at 8:00 and we were to meet back at the bus for 8:30. We were given not direction on how to get to breakfast some people had maps of the campus that were not very detailed, others us had no maps. That morning we had to walk .8 miles in the rain not certain where we were going and then walk back .8 miles to where the bus was parked near our dorms. When asked why we couldn't be taken as a group to breakfast by bus for the following day, our guide said he'd think about it. As it turned out he decided against it. Scotland itself was beautiful and we saw some breathtaking sites. We've used Viator several times and had no complaints but this was different. The guide was not very good at communicating and not open to suggestions. While it is true that the tour description does say that during high times the three star hotel would be substituted by a dorm, I don't see that this particular dorm was at all comparable to a three star hotel. The walls of our room were made of particle board, no place to get something to eat aside from breakfast, sharing a bathroom with six people, no toiletries, etc. If they knew we would be staying in the dorm at least make an attempt at better conditions and service or give a discount on the price. Because of this experience I will be very careful of checking out the actual provider of future tours. I have to tell you that I am a very easy-going person and extensive world traveler who is used to all kinds of experiences but this was definitely not what I expected of Viator.