£25 million refurbishment of city centre hotel launches today

General manager Marcello Ventisei wants to break down any 'stuffiness'
General manager Marcello Ventisei wants to break down any 'stuffiness'
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Developers behind a £25 million revamp of one of the city’s oldest hotels hope to entice locals as well as tourists when they open the doors today.

The former Roxburghe, now Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, will include a green garden space which they say is ideal for afternoon tea, hosting events – or just relaxing.

General manager Marcello Ventisei said he wanted the hotel to break down any barriers and the traditional “stuffiness” of luxury hotels, so people from Edinburgh feel they are welcome.

“We have been really keen from the outset of this project to make sure it is also right for local people as well as guests coming to the city,” he said.

“Hotels can generate an element of stuffiness and rules and we’re keen to break with that tradition.

“No matter where you are in the Principal our team are there to engage with people on a warm, generous and open level.

“I’ve lived here for seven years and I have met people who had a real affinity with the previous hotel.

“We want to create a new hotel that will hopefully still resonate with people in the same way in 30 years.”

Marcello said in particular the new garden, created out of a redundant space, will be an area which the local community can enjoy, or host events in or just relax with a coffee.

“It’s going to be the real heartbeat of the hotel,” he said.

“This is a really warm and beautiful garden space which has a fantastic feature bar, tea and coffee facilities and great cocktails.”

Visitors are invited to come in for lunches, evening meals or drinks: “We are keen to portray the garden through the things we serve there, for example we promote natural elements, water-based drinks such as spritzers and toddies,” he added.

The hotel, which also runs the Principal Edinb­urgh George Street, will be opening a new restaurant, BABA, which Marcello describes as a “100 per cent non-hotel environment” eatery.

“We hope people from the locality will come and enjoy the mezze food in a really fun, relaxed environment – through our food and drink offerings everyone can enjoy the hotel,” he added.

The standalone Eastern Mediterranean restaurant and bar has been developed in partnership with chef Jonathan MacDonald and Daniel Spurr, the successful team behind Ox and Finch in Glasgow and is their first venture into the Capital.

Prinicipal’s chief operating officer, David Taylor, said: “We believe that The Principal on Charlotte Square has a distinctive point of view, and with BABA we believe we’re bringing something genuinely new to Edinburgh’s thriving restaurant and bar scene – it’s a restaurant that will appeal both to hotel guests and to Edinburgh locals.”

A revamp of the hotel’s leisure and spa will also be predominantly aimed at the local community offering memberships when complete.