Owner of House of Gods, Mike Baxter, tells us about the new restaurant at Edinburgh's answer to Studio 54
They will also be opening an equally luxurious Glasgow outpost
This four-star two-year-old venue, in Edinburgh’s Cowgate, is plush, sybaritic and rock ‘n’ roll, with 22 boudoirs that are based on Versailles and the Orient Express’ cabins.
It’s more like a film set than your average butt and ben.
And, soon, they will also have their own restaurant and bar, the Casablanca Cocktail Club, which will seat 50 covers and be open to non-residents.
“We already had the hotel, the bar and the outside courtyard,“ says Mike Baxter, who owns House of Gods with his brother, Ross. “The restaurant is the final piece of the puzzle”.
It’s not opening until the end of July/early August, when they hope that restrictions will allow them to use their 3am licence and hit the ground running (in designer shoes). They’ve already got that essential mirrored ceiling installed.
“The restaurant had to embody the spirit of what we do at House of Gods, so we’ve gone absolutely bonkers with the interiors,” says Mike. “Each of the chairs - sofa-style thrones - were about £1500. They’re incredible. People are not going to want to leave”.
Although the finished look is still in production and, thus, under wraps, no corners will be cut.
There will be Gucci wallpaper, as well as a private dining area, which will be swathed in red velvet and clad with oak panels.
Dinner will be served on Versace plates, and tables will be topped by white linen and candelabras. “Everything is going to be a bit extra”, Mike says.
As far as food goes, they’ve employed a head chef, Andrew Logie, formerly of Edinburgh's Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s restaurants, Grazing by Mark Greenaway and the Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, now closed.
“Being part of The Caledonian was incredible. I learnt a great deal there under some world class chefs and I can’t wait to take that knowledge into House of Gods”, says Logie. “Comparing the two would be very hard to do as House of Gods is so unique, but I can say that the food is going to be just as impressive and very much the equal of those incredible dining rooms. You can’t serve underwhelming food when you’re sitting underneath a gold mirrored ceiling”.
There will be wagyu burgers, complete with gold leaf and black buns, and truffle cheese fries in McDonald’s-esque packaging (but featuring a House of Gods logo instead), as well as a “hot-dog” that’s made entirely of lobster.
“We wanted to take familiar food to the next level”, says Mike, who looks after the creative and interiors side of the business, while Ross is more of a pragmatic type. “There’s even a scallop chicken wing that has been marinated in Champagne. It’s as decadent as you can possibly imagine a menu to be”.
Instead of an aperitif, guests will be encouraged to have a post-dinner rock-and-roll-themed cocktail in their bar - “an ode to Studio 54”, says Mike - before taking to the dance floor, where a DJ will spin some tracks (“from Diana Ross to hip-hop”) until the wee hours.
“What restaurants sometimes lack is entertainment. You have your wine and Champagne, it’s 11pm and you’re starting to have a good time, what will you do?” says Mike, who also explains that their core clientele are 25-45 years old. “I want to go somewhere that’ll be fun and full of energy”.
He also hopes to invigorate the capital’s “hotel bar” scene, which is currently pretty non-existent.
“In Edinburgh there’s never really been that culture”, says Mike. “In London or New York, you often go to a hotel bar because they tend to be the best. I can’t imagine going for a Friday night negroni at an Ibis”.
Once the capital’s expanded House of Gods has been launched, they can concentrate on their next project - an outpost in Glasgow’s Merchant City.
“That crowd will really get us”, says Mike. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. We have that rock and roll thing and Glasgow is bigger and attracts more bands”.
By the sounds of it, this hotel will be decadence with a boozy maraschino cherry on top. Hopefully nobody will throw a TV out of a window.
“It’s opening in spring next year”, says Mike. “It’s quite a bit bigger, with 31 bedrooms, and a penthouse on the roof that’s built into a gold box. That’s one of the most ridiculous rooms you’ve ever seen. We’re Vegas-ing it, so you’ll have your own lounge and can jump out of bed and straight into a plunge pool. There’s also a rainforest-themed shower, and the hotel will have a secret cocktail bar under the street, as well as a brasserie”.
They’re also planning to roll out House of Gods to Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle, all of which should open by next summer.
For now, they’re thriving and bookings are strong - “we’re predicting a very strong bounce-back after restrictions”, says Mike - thanks in part to customers’ sense of post-lockdown YOLO.
“Everybody’s realised how important the time they spend with their friends, family and loved ones is, it’s a little bit magical”, says Mike. “They’re hugely appreciative of being out of the house and want to make their evening really special. People are dressing up and are ready to enjoy it more, as opposed to having just another throwaway night”.