The new Gleneagles Townhouse hotel proves Edinburgh is much more than just centuries-old castles.
Edinburgh, a historic city dotted with medieval churches, Georgian town houses, and statues connected by cobbled streets, is adding to its allure with the new Gleneagles Townhouse hotel, along with its private members club, which is an ode to Scottish heritage.
Renovated by Ennismore Design Studio, the hotel comprises 33 bedrooms, an all-day restaurant, two bars, spa and wellness area, a roof top bar and terrace overlooking the Scottish capital, and the Firth of Forth, in addition to a private members’ club set in a historic storied building overlooking St Andrew Square in the centre of Georgian New Town.
Built in 1781 by George Ramsay, the 8th Earl of Dalhousie, the handsome Grade A-listed building, a bank for 200 years, is a stunning example of Georgian architecture boasting striking architectural features, including an elaborate entablature supporting six neoclassical statues symbolising the six trades central to the bank’s fortunes – agriculture, manufacture, commerce, science, architecture and navigation – by Scottish sculptor Alexander Handyside Ritchie.
The Ennismore team has worked magic to breathe new life into the historic building with a fresh contemporary take on Georgian elegance, and a fresh modern colour palate that brings the space to life. Stylish touches reflect the grandeur and history of the building, which has been heightened with contemporary artworks. The overall look and feel is laid-back, timeless, and deeply inviting.
To honour the building’s former life, many of the original architectural features have been painstakingly restored, including the domed glass ceiling, the ornamental detailing, stone columns, floor tiles, and the original fireplaces and panelling.
In the lobby, a soaring stained glass window, beautifully restored flooring, and a gently curving staircase leads to a mezzanine level where a large artwork adds a perfect contemporary touch.
On the same level, The Spence is a glorious all-day dining restaurant set within the imposing grandeur of the old Telling Room, the former banking hall, where delightful pink-tinted granite columns soar up to the stunning stained glass-domed ceiling from which cameos of 12 famous Scots, including economist Adam Smith, and author Walter Scott, stare down from the cornicing in peach and gold swirls.
Light floods the room showcasing the refreshing modern colour palette of peachy pinks, peppermints, plums and peacock blues. Ennismore has cleverly imposed the room with intimate dining zones without a noticeable separation, making the large space inviting and cosy.
The hotel’s square-shaped art deco bar is a reference to the historic banking counter that was part of the building’s previous life. It commands the central space underneath the impressive glass dome. Guests can swivel on bar stools sipping and people-watching to their heart’s content or take comfort in the scalloped armchairs in velvets and damasks, and the divinely decadent curved banquettes.
Weekend brunches add to the lively vibe, while two working marble fireplaces will entice winter diners to linger longer.
The staff sport bank clerk-inspired uniforms, while the chefs are on view as they conjure up their epicurean delights under a canopied area to the side, once occupied by the tellers’ booths.
At the helm is young Scottish head chef Jonny Wright who conjures up predominantly local Scottish produce in a menu rooted in classics with a modern twist. From Bloody Mary breakfasts, long lazy lunches, three-course dinners, nightcaps, and everything in between.
Each guest room celebrates Scottish heritage with antiques, warm wooden floors, luxurious fabrics, and the comfiest king-sized beds. They reflect the grandeur of the building through their decorative features, namely the mouldings and panellings, and gorgeously elegant features such as the Canopy crown headboards. All have stunning contemporary art, a modern colour palette and are devoted to homely comfort and plenty of thoughtful details.
Rooms vary in size, orientation and ceiling heights with a choice of Nook Rooms, the smallest rooms in the eaves.
Expect high ceilings, king-sized beds, wooden floors, antique rugs and painted-panel walls. The master bedrooms are all about indulgence: they have a little more space, pairing Georgian elegance with contemporary comfort, the finest of which overlook the Square.
Of the suites, the Royal Lochnagar is the hotel’s most luxurious and beautiful, with uninterrupted views across the beautiful Glendevon, and Ochil Hills.
There are two jewels in the Gleneagles Townhouse crown. First is Lamplighters bar with its fabulous terrace and extraordinary views over the Square, the city’s spires and dome, and the Firth of Forth, an entirely new space that, previous to lengthy planning, belonged to the statues alone.
Mirrors are cleverly used to create drama within the bar, where the ceiling height is limited by planning permission – they bounce light into the room, brightening and animating the space, creating reflections, and reflecting the soft flickering candlelight in the evening, adding to the ambience and the illusion of a more expansive ceiling height.
There’s a curved timber bar, floral carpets, and more clever use of mirrors in a band around the room adding further interest and dimension. Curtaining over the glass ceiling cuts glare, softens the impact of inclement weather, (this is Scotland after all) and adds warmth, and a lovely play of light dancing across the room.
Here, bar manager Stefanie Anderson curates divinely concocted drinks in a seasonal rotation, a locally inspired list of cocktails, local whiskies, beers, spirits, and wines to accompany the spectacular daylight views, and the setting sun, and the lights sparkling over the city in the evenings. It’s the perfect spot for a nightcap.
Whereas The Spence is open to non-guests, Lamplighters is reserved for members and hotel guests.
Second, the Wellness Suite in the basement is a game-changing space with state-of-the-art tech and curated experiences for holistic wellness with innovative technologies under the auspices of wellness managers Emma Fraser and Tessa Tweedie.
Uniquely, the changing rooms are in the strong rooms of the former bank vaults flanked by the original vault doors. This is not your typical hotel spa by any means. Your curated experience in holistic wellness awaits with a state-of-the-art gym, a pool, cryotherapy chambers, and infrared saunas. With physiotherapy and nutrition experts on hand.
Welcome to Edinburgh’s new place to see, and be seen.