£50m luxury four star hotel with roof top bar and views of the castle planned for Debenhams Princes Street store

The development is the latest in a line of mixed-use conversions of former retail spaces on the famous shopping street.

By Conor Matchett
Monday, 20th July 2020, 7:30 am
The Princes Street Debenhams is set to be redeveloped into a hotel by the building's owners.
The Princes Street Debenhams is set to be redeveloped into a hotel by the building's owners.

Princes Street will be home to another luxury hotel and city centre “hub” as part of ambitious £50 million plans to redevelop the Debenhams store on the famous shopping street, the Evening News can reveal.

The proposals, due to be submitted to Edinburgh City Council this week, include a luxury four-star hotel with a spa, a rooftop bar with 360 degree views of Edinburgh and the castle, as well as a city centre ‘hub’ with space for local businesses.

It is the latest of several high profile redevelopments of property on Princes Street following the Johnnie Walker Experience in the former Frasers’ store and the imminent redevelopment of Jenners.

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Exterior of the Liberal Club and the Gladstone Memorial library was part of the building which was taken over by Debenham's in the 1980s.

Financial services firm Legal and General, who own the building in the L&G UK Property Fund and also own the HSBC building on the street, said the hotel is likely to open in the latter half of 2024 with Debenhams set to leave the property within the next couple of years.

Previous projects include the regeneration of Cardiff’s Central Square and the Newcastle Helix development.

The plans also include a brand new publicly accessible close linking Princes Street to Rose Street running through the centre of the building with shops, restaurants and cafes which prioritise local businesses and suppliers on either side, with a casual fine dining restaurant fronting onto Princes Street and connecting to the hotel space.

Capital residents will also be able to take advantage of the rooftop bar which the developers intend to be publicly accessible and alongside the open ground floor space cafes, has been added to the scheme to fit in with the council’s vision for a cafe culture on Princes Street.

Cardiff Central Square, one of Legal and General's other urban regeneration projects.

The close will also have the potential to be used as an events space for performers during the Festivals.

The facades of the buildings, 109-112 Princes Street, will be retained with the staircase inside Debenhams also set to be retained as part of the design by architects ICA who are also behind the Virgin Hotel design at the India Buildings.

However, the building will be completely rebuilt behind the facades with mezzanine suites taking advantage of the bay windows looking out at the castle with the majority of rooms towards the back of the redesigned property.

It is understood the developers have worked closely with the council around the plans and hope to create a property which can take advantage of the tourism industry but also be a location where locals feel they are welcome and where they have ownership.

Matt Jarvis, senior fund manager at Legal and General, said: “As normality begins to return around the world, it has never been more important that we support the UK’s cities in continuing to adapt, change and innovate; supporting their economic recovery and continuing to promote them as attractive places to live, work and visit.

"Our vision for Princes Street will do just that, whilst securing these important buildings as a vibrant hub in the centre of one of the world’s great cities.

"With some of the best views anywhere, looking directly on to Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle, our aim is to create a space which all Edinburgh and Scottish residents can enjoy, whilst continuing to attract quality tourism to the city.

“For the L&G UK Property Fund, this represents a exceptional opportunity, in line with its strategy to diversify into more operational and alternative assets, and offering a platform to drive forward value for investors."