Anyone who walks through the Old Town of Scotland‘s capital city, Edinburgh, traverses historic architectural grandeur knitted tightly along curves and inclines. On the other side of the centrally located Edinburgh Waverly Station, across from St Andrew Square, rises the neo-classical wonder that is The Edinburgh Grand—and it’s a perfect match for the city’s magnificence. Built between 1939 and 1942, the edifice long held the headquarters of a bank. As of this summer, it houses 50 fully-equipped, serviced apartments (to call them “suites” just doesn’t do the hotel justice). It’s the destination to stay in if one hopes to match the magical, complex splendor of the city with luxuriant, warm accommodation.
It was the Chris Stewart Group‘s in-house design team that modernized the establishment while ensuring the building’s commitment to authenticity. For those not familiar, this development group is behind more than a few stunning offices, residences and hotels in the city—as well as The Devil’s Advocate, a favorite restaurant of ours. With their work on The Edinburgh Grand, no two rooms are the same, and each revolves around a central concept that pulls between the past and present.
Our second-floor room begins with a wood-paneled living room and kitchen space, featuring a marble dining table that could seat eight. Additional marble and wood pieces accent the space, but the olive green couch and emerald green lounge chair lend an air of glamour beneath the high ceilings. There is, more or less, a classic or heritage theme throughout; a rarity in the hotel rooms here as most actually feature a more modern, minimal design. Regarding amenities, the kitchen offers—among many other things—a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. Cabinets are fully stocked with utensils and serving bowls. Everything that could be thought of has been.
As with the living room and kitchen, one wall of the bedroom breathes in substantial light through floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Square. The spacious room easily provides comfort and breathability, with ample closet space to boot. Both our kitchen and bedroom open onto the same bathroom—also airy. Here, the hotel offers Aesop bath products for its guests.
The color of the handmade bathroom tiles harks back to the living room furniture—and also the original bathrooms of the building. In fact, before the interiors were demolished, Chris Stewart Group’s designers scouted for inspiration. They observed that the bathrooms of the past were cast in one of two colors—one for senior managers, one for the rest of the staff. They employ both of these colors throughout the rooms’ toilets.
For all the history, the rooms—and hotel at large—are not stodgy or stuffy. In fact, it’s all quite warm. From the decor to the staff, a welcoming feeling emanates throughout. Even the mesmerizing, geometric carpet (a strange contrast to bronze handrails and restored cornices) asks one to stay and look around for a while. In a way, the hotel’s design feels familial—in that a chair may be grandfatherly, but its cushion is fresh and new. And it all works together.
On the fourth floor of the hotel, The Register Club stretches across the entire west wing. It’s a reservation-recommended lounge that taps into old-world elegance. There are superb views to be had, but it’s really the menu that shines. Be it tea or a classic cocktail, drinks can be ordered at a countertop bar or in a separate salon-like room with tables and booths beside windows. Rumor has it there’s a hidden game room on site, as well—we just didn’t find it.
Rooms at The Edinburgh Grand (42 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh) begin at £178 per night.
Images by David Graver