A NEW city centre hotel has opened the doors to 30 bedrooms, but a host of Scots celebrities already have their names on them.
The Hope Street development, called Angels’ Share, has been painstakingly designed by one of Edinburgh’s leading pub tycoons, with individual rooms named after faces such as Sir Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, Kelly MacDonald, Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor.
A New York-style speakeasy bar called the Devil’s Cut has also been installed in the basement of the former Hudson Hotel and Bar – accessed through a secret door which is only opened when drinkers whisper the correct password.
Entrepreneur Billy Lowe, who also runs Le Monde in George Street, bought the site with his business partner Andy Pollard two years ago and has transformed it into a contemporary “cool and current” hotel and whisky bar.
He said: “I loved the idea of the Angels’ Share, the whisky that evaporates during distillation, and visited whisky bars all over the world to get a feel, but I also wanted to take the Scottish feel throughout the whole hotel. I didn’t want tartan and heather or kitsch and twee, but cool and current.
“We also had the idea of naming rooms and theming them after Scots who were also cool and current. It’s similar to what we did at Le Monde with the worldwide cities, so we have rooms named after a number of different celebrities, local and national.”
Downstairs, up to 180 drinkers will be able to sample some of the world’s leading whiskies, but only after revealing the secret code.
Mr Lowe is the founder of Saltire Taverns, a city-based pub and boutique hotel group which runs a host of venues across Scotland.
The entrepreneur, who was brought up on a Bingham housing estate, started out in the pub trade more than 20 years ago when he managed a city bar for his uncle, former Hibs chairman Kenny Waugh Senior.
He was inspired by the Please Don’t Tell speakeasy in New York which drinkers enter through a phone booth attached to a hot dog joint in the East Village.
He said: “I love the idea of a little ‘in the know’ spot. The plan is to have a daily or weekly password that those in the know use to get in – hotel concierges and various city barmen and student reps will be asked to pass it on and it will also be made known to our regular patrons.
“We’ll make the password topical – for instance, if the Six Nations is on, it might be rugby inspired.”
He added: “It’s not an elitist thing at all but a bit of fun. We will be serving cocktails in cups and such like. We’ve moved the piano downstairs and we will have a regular pianist, too.
“We hope for it to become an immediate city institution. We opened on Wednesday night and without any real advertising the place was packed.”
THE HIGHS FOR LOWE
Billy Lowe heads the successful Saltire Taverns company, which owns Le Monde in George Street.
Born in Bingham, he spent nights working at the Centre Court in Colinton and Bentley’s in Tollcross, before joining forces with his cousin, Kenny Waugh Junior, in 1983. They formed Thistle Inns and took over Sneaky Pete’s in the Cowgate, expanding to take control of Maggie Dickson’s in the Grassmarket and the Port Bar in Lady Lawson Street.
After selling the firm in 1997, he set up Saltire Taverns, which owned Frankenstein on George IV Bridge until 2011.