'˜Speakeasy-style' bar set for former RBS vault in St Andrew Square

The vaults of the former RBS headquarters in St Andrew Square have been bust open after a crack squad performed a ten-day inside job to break into the bank.

Tuesday, 25th April 2017, 8:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:47 pm
Inside the bank vault. Picture: Neil Hanna

However, the safe-breaking crew was not a band of bank thieves – but a specialist team employed by developers of The Edinburgh Grand, to create a new entrance to the vault, as part of the multi-million pound renovation of the historic building into serviced apartments.

Due to the significant security features of the basement vaults, the 1.5m thick section, reinforced with steel rods, took the specialist team nearly two weeks to break through.

Using diamond cutting wire, they painstakingly sliced blocks from the wall and drilled out the concrete sections bit-by-bit.

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Inside the bank vault. Picture: Neil Hanna

During the renovation of the bank into 50 luxury serviced apartments, developers Lateral City have taken advantage of the original features of the building and will transform the naturally cool underground space into a fitness studio and gym with the creation of a speakeasy-style bar in the second, smaller vault.

Open to the public as well as guests of the apartments, visitors will be able to enjoy the fourth-floor champagne and cocktail bar until 11pm before heading down to the soundproof basement for “a night in the vault”.

Speakeasy-style bars, named after secretive US prohibition drinking dens, now describe the cosy ambiance of a hidden-away bar, and will likely draw on the decor of the 1920-30s.

The scaffolding surrounding the development will soon be removed and the build is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The door opens, revealing the bank vault. Picture: Neil Hanna

Gavin MacLennan, general manager of Lateral City Apartments, revealed architects and designers have used detailing from the old building in the new design.

He said: “We want to keep the story going from it being the National Bank to the Royal Bank of Scotland and now the Edinburgh Grand, because the history is fascinating.

“We are using some of the artwork and details to feed back into the building, allowing guests and the public to enjoy the unique heritage.”

Interior designer for the development, Karen Brown, added: “The building is brimming with original features from the monumental entrance doors featuring heraldic emblems, marble clad walls and ornate cornicing, to the bronze balustrade lining the atrium, all of which we’ll be incorporating into our final designs.”

Inside the bank vault. Picture: Neil Hanna

The art-deco 4000 sqft 
banking hall will be restored to its former glory and operated by city-renowned Mediterranean bar and restaurant chain Bon Vivant who will use the space as a coffee house and evening venue with late night entertainment.

The Edinburgh Grand will also house a 200-cover bar and restaurant operated by Di Maggio, which also runs Cafe Andaluz on George Street and Amarone on the opposite side of St Andrew Square.

The door opens, revealing the bank vault. Picture: Neil Hanna