WORK has started on a new £20 million four-star hotel set to transform the skyline of the Old Town.
The massive project will see a 98-room luxury offering built on a derelict gap site beside the City Art Centre on Market Street.
Developer EDI Group – an arms-length council development company – insists the scheme will transform an under-used plot that has lain vacant for more than 50 years.
But critics have blasted it as a “poor quality design” and accused architects of merely “paying lip service” to Edinburgh’s architectural heritage.
Construction of the hotel marks the completion of the last remaining gap site on the northern boundary of the Old Town, between Edinburgh Castle and North Bridge.
The facility is expected to open in spring 2018, with visitors able to enjoy a top-floor lounge boasting panoramic views across Princes Street Gardens.
Councillor Gavin Barrie, chair of the EDI Group, said: “Delivering an outstanding luxury hotel in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town is a significant moment for the city’s tourism and leisure industry.
“The design of the building carefully balances old and new to support the city’s heritage status and we’re delighted that a key under-used site for the city will be brought back into use for residents and visitors to enjoy”.
The new venue – which lies within the Capital’s World Heritage site – is set to be operated by the Carlton Hotel Collection, part of Hotel Management International. Construction firm ISG has been appointed as the main contractor for the project.
Alfred Bree, managing director of Carlton Hotel Collection, promised “a very special lifestyle hotel” that would be “unique for Edinburgh”.
He said: “The hotel product has been designed by the award-winning interior design company, FG Stijl, with offices in Dubai and Amsterdam.
“Situated in its historic location, Market Street Hotel will offer 98 designer rooms and a one-of-a-kind top floor Penthouse lounge and bar, with spectacular views over Edinburgh.
“The interior design of this hotel will reflect the heritage of the location and will meet all demands of the international modern traveller. All at Carlton Hotel Collection are looking forward to the successful development of this historic site and to welcoming all in spring 2018.”
But Bill Cowan, chair of the Old Town community council, said he was “unimpressed” by the “poor quality” design plans.
He said concerns had also been raised over the building’s height, adding: “There shouldn’t be another hotel – there are too many hotels.”
Andy McLinden, ISG’s Scotland regional managing director, said: “Our strong hospitality credentials and first-rate reputation for delivering complex schemes in logistically challenging city environments proved highly influential in our appointment to this prestigious project.
“ISG is set to play a key role in transforming the bold vision for this key regeneration site into an outstanding hotel that will set the standards for all future luxury hospitality developments in the city.”