Edinburgh's Princes Street: Plans for 300-bed hotel on last major site still vacant after St James Quarter exodus

Ruby Hotel will replace Zara and Next in Edinburgh’s Princes Street

A new 300-bedroom hotel is planned for Princes Street in what has been billed as the next step in the regeneration of the Capital’s busiest thoroughfare. German-based Ruby Hotels said the venture – its first in Scotland – would see a hotel with rooftop bar and retail space below at 104-108 Princes Street, formerly home to both Zara and Next stores, with an expected opening date of late 2025.

The £100 million development will involve conversion of the existing building along with some new construction and represents the redevelopment of the last major store site still vacant on Princes Street. The site is directly opposite West Princes Street Gardens and enjoys outstanding views of the Castle, Ross Bandstand and across the city’s World Heritage Site. A major public consultation on the plans is due to be launched later this month.

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It is estimated that the project will support over 150 jobs during the development phase with over 250 jobs being created once the hotel and retail space are operational.

The new Ruby Hotel, with rooftop bar and retail space below, is proposed for 104-108 Princes Street, formerly home to Zara and Next.

The plans come after many major retailers left Princes Street for the new St James Quarter and the proposed new hotel fits with the council’s strategy of attracting more quality hotels and high-spending visitors as part of Edinburgh’s tourism mix.

The Ruby Hotel will be next door to another new hotel planned for the former Debenhams store. And a series of other developments have also taken place or been announced for Princes Street, including the Johnnie Walker attraction in the old House of Fraser building, a Premier Inn at the former New Look, another Premier Inn at the former BHS store, another hotel in the former Topshop and the recently-approved plans for the iconic Jenners building.

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Munich-based Ruby Group say their hotels offer “lean luxury” to “cost- and style conscious” customers. Julian Mörs, group director for development at Ruby, said: "The hotel market in Edinburgh has proven to be very robust in the past, shows sustainable growth and offers a lot of potential for our concept, especially in the affordable luxury segment. We are very excited to enter the Scottish market with this great project."

Andrew Moffat, of Edinburgh-based Hunter Real Estate Investment Management, Ruby’s partners in the project, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the next step in the regeneration of Princes Street with the announcement of a new Ruby Hotel and associated retail development at 104-108 Princes Street. We believe we can deliver a significant improvement in the streetscape in Princes Street and, importantly, retain some retail space as part of the development.

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“With a total investment of over £100 million, these proposals are genuinely transformational and will have a positive impact on Edinburgh’s ambitions to attract high spending visitors and maintain bedspace provision amid planned reductions in Edinburgh’s Airbnb accommodation. We look forward to fully consulting with local residents, community groups and businesses on the proposals and will submit a planning application in due course."

Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, the Capital’s business improvement district, welcomed the latest hotel proposals. He said: “Princes Street has been reeling from a wave of store closures in recent years, but at last there is light at the end of the tunnel. Ruby Hotels will be an outstanding addition to Princes Street and Edinburgh.”