THINGS aren’t always what they first appear at Black Ivy, the stylish new Bruntsfield bar and hotel from city entrepreneur Billy Lowe.
Floorings are either made of wood reclaimed from 19th century French train carriages or comprise a shiny mosaic of American nickels.
On the walls, two striking murals by internationally renowned Australian street artist Rone draw the eye in while internal windows and mirrors reveal and reflect, creating optical illusions and, in a corner, Cupid fires his bow from beneath a canopy of purple wisteria.
Welcome to city’s newest place to be seen, a venue where the outdoors come indoors and vice versa.
Hence the state of the art fire pits on the canopied terrace, guaranteed to keep the winter chill at bay, and illuminated trees that line the Draughthouse Bar.
There’s even a Ping Pong room with two tables, and that’s without mentioning the nine projectors and screens throughout the venue that ensure no live sports broadcast need go unseen.
The local pub tycoon describes his latest venture as “a stylish neighbourhood bar and hotel in Bruntsfield”.
Spacious and airy, it is home to two bars with fresh tank beer and 22 unique guest rooms - any resemblance to its last incarnation as the Links Hotel are long gone.
Inspired by a desire to create a premium neighbourhood bar rooted in the leafy, park location but also informed by stylish, forward thinking venues in London, Brooklyn and beyond, Billy worked with long-time collaborator Chris Hines of Redhouse Design and creative agency Saved By Robots to bring Black Ivy to life.
He says, “I am genuinely excited to open my first neighbourhood bar.
“I have always had properties in the city centre, in both The Old Town and The New Town, but I feel we have the opportunity here to create something iconic and special.
“Black Ivy will be a great addition to many of the fabulous businesses already established in the area.
“Our aim is to provide ‘local luxury for all’ and a destination venue worth visiting.”
That ‘luxury for all’ ethos runs through the venue adds Billy, revealing that fresh Innis & Gunn tank beer will be poured in the Drafthouse bar, while the menu will see sharing boards and luxury comfort food available in the Drafthouse bar, the Taproom or the Conservatory.
He adds, “From Jazz Brunch to cocktails on the Terrace, we will create our own magic here in Bruntsfield, giving the local community a place to really be proud of.
“Honestly, I think it might be the best thing we’ve ever done.”
Black Ivy Bar and Hotel, Alvanley Terrace, open Monday to Sunday 8am-1am, kitchen open 8am-10pm, to book a table call 0131-564 1901
THE LIFE AND PUBS OF BILLY LOWE
RAISED in The Inch, Billy Lowe, 58, has now owned 36 bars in the Capital over the course of his career.
Starting work as a printer with Morrison & Gibb, he got a taste for the hospitality trade while working part-time in a pub.
For five years Billy was manager of the Centre Court pub in Colinton Road, then got his own bar, Sneaky Pete’s in Cowgate in 1985.
Over the next 12 years he built up a chain of 16 pubs in and around Edinburgh, including Maggie Dickson’s and Biddy Mulligan’s before selling them all in 1997.
In 1999 he opened the Capital’s first super-club Espionage, over five floors, and then Frankenstein on George IV Bridge in 2000.
In 2006 the father of four opened his first hotel, Le Monde on George Street, later selling Espionage and Frankenstien.
In 2012 he opened a second hotel Angels Share at the West End
Billy sold his Le Monde and Angels Share hotels in 2015, taking a year off before buying Malones Irish bar in Forrest Road (for the third time), and renaming it McSorley’s, and the Links Hotel at Bruntsfield, which has now reopened as Black Ivy.