In a city blessed with many dramatically beautiful streets, Victoria Street has to be one of the most gorgeous.
The colourful shopfronts and curving cobbled street would not be out of place in a market town in the south of France, but the towering tenements on the “upper street” above could not be anywhere other than Edinburgh.
Those visitors who stumble upon the street and its specialist shops and cafes are always blown away. It seems odd to talk about a “hidden gem” so close to the heart of the city, but in many ways Victoria Street is just that.
Yet walk down it today and you will find a street divided. Look to your right as you wander from George IV Bridge and you will see Edinburgh at its very best. Look left, however, and you will see buildings boarded up and sadly neglected. What should be a thriving and attractive part of the city centre is in fact a little lost and forlorn. So it is exciting to hear of plans to bring this “forgotten” corner back to life and restore the impressive India Buildings to their former glory.
Some will inevitably question whether another hotel is what the Capital needs, but the kind of luxury venue being proposed would be very different from the vast majority that have opened in recent months and years. There are in fact surprisingly few of them in Edinburgh considering the global appeal that the city enjoys.
The high-spending guests that a hotel like this attracts would be a great boon for neighbouring areas, especially the Grassmarket. The struggles of the existing businesses to attract enough visitors away from the traditional New and Old Town hotspots has been well documented. A landmark hotel on Victoria Street could change all that, and leave the pubs and clubs less dependent on the stag and hen do crowds.
Those empty buildings are long overdue some TLC and Victoria Street deserves to take its place in the city limelight.