New hotel gets go-ahead in Edinburgh's Princes Street

Five-star future for old home of Royal Over-Seas League

New hotel gets go-ahead in Edinburgh's Princes Street
New hotel gets go-ahead in Edinburgh's Princes Street

PLANS to convert the Royal Over-Seas League building on Princes Street into a five-star boutique hotel have been approved.

The former private members’ club is set to become a 30-room hotel with prime views of the Castle.

It will be luxury operator Red Carnation Hotels’ first property in Scotland and will be known as 100 Princes Street.

It is expected to be modelled on the company’s similarly-sized London property Hotel 41, which overlooks the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.

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The Royal Over-Seas League building dates back to 1879 when it opened as the Windsor Hotel. Designed by Robert Patterson, it was part of a major Victorian building programme along Princes Street.

The site was also of interest historically, with an earlier building being occupied by Lady Clerk of Penicuik, a Jacobite hostess and supporter, whose wearing of the White Cockade proclaimed her loyalty to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

In 1930 the Royal Over-Seas League club was officially opened by the Duke of York.

It was the first mixed club in the city and had 20 bedrooms, a bar and restaurant and other club facilitates and all the furnishings were produced and made in Scotland.

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The club became a popular centre for Commonwealth visitors, with the prime ministers of Canada, Australia and New Zealand staying there.

The members-only club charged around £277 a year for membership and offered a club room, restaurant, bar, conference space and 20 en-suite rooms, as well as a viewing platform on the roof with unrestricted views of the Castle - a feature which will be retained in the new hotel.

The club closed its doors in January 2018 with repairs estimated at £2 million and refurbishment at a further £3.5m.

The new hotel will be Red Carnation’s 19th worldwide. Other include Ireland’s Ashford Castle, which was once home to the Guinness family.

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Unveiling the proposals last year, Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels, said: “It has been a dream of ours to open a hotel in Edinburgh for some time, and with the best address in the city, it was well worth the wait.

“We intend to pay full respect to this remarkable location and city, its history, tradition and people and are excited to be blending our internationally renowned breed of personal service and generous hospitality with the warm humour, expertise and knowledge of the best talent in Edinburgh.”

Meanwhile there is uncertainty over the future of the Debenhams store a few doors along at 109 Princes Street with the retail giant poised to call in administrators for the second time.

The company, which employs 22,000 across the UK, went into administration last year, when it was taken over by a group of financial backers.

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All Debenhams’ shops are currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and although the business is still trading online it is said to have felt a major impact.

The company has already closed 22 stores this year and has a further 28 due to shut in 2021. Now more could be under threat.

As well as its Princes Street store, Debenhams also has the anchor store at Ocean Terminal.