More rooms with a view as hotel plans expansion

The Royal British Hotel on Princes Street

The Royal British Hotel on Princes Street

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One of the Capital’s oldest hotels is set to expand in a move that will complete the redevelopment of the first block of Edinburgh’s best-known shopping street.

The owners of the Royal British Hotel want to turn unused office space above the Vodafone shop on the corner of Princes Street and South St Andrew Street into nine extra bedrooms.

It is the latest boost to the city council’s “string of pearls” project, which aims to develop each section of Princes Street on a block-by-block basis.

The Evening News has already revealed that German company Motel One plans to turn predominantly unused space above the former Burger King outlet into a new hotel.

The new hotel along with the extension of the Royal British, would mean that all of the upper floors of the eastern block of Princes Street would be brought into use for the first time.

With Apple also expected to create a flagship unit in the block, business leaders say that the series of proposals will breathe new life into the street.

Graham Bell, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “There has long been a feeling among the business community that, to fulfil its role as a premier street in Europe, Princes Street would have to develop greater diversification and something would have to be done to address the upper floors that sit empty.

“You can’t imagine the Champs-Elysées or Wall Street sitting with many of their upper floors lying empty, yet these upper floors on Princes Street have become very expensive storage space.”

The expansion of the Royal British Hotel – which dates back to 1820 and is thought to be Edinburgh’s second-oldest hotel after The George – is expected to see nine new bedrooms created in the space above 24/25 Princes Street and 1 St Andrew Square, taking its total number of bedrooms to 81.

A full planning application has been lodged, although it is understood that a deal is still to be finalised for the owners of the Royal British to buy the former office space, currently owned by a property company.

It will be the biggest expansion of the hotel since the Newcastle-based Cairn Group saved it from receivership in 1997.

David Hodgkinson, a director at property consultancy Hodgkinson and Kennedy, which is acting for Cairn, said: “It is positive news for Princes Street as it is managing to unlock space that was previously not utilised.

“It is what planners are trying to promote with the ‘string of pearls’ and there is so much vacant space above shops.”

Cairn Hotel Group director Arvan Handa was not available to comment.

mblackley@edinburghnews.com