Revamp for £75m Calton Hill project
Rosewood to operate newly-designed Royal High School hotel
New designs and the identity of the operator have been revealed for the proposed hotel at Edinburgh’s former Royal High School.
Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, which operates The Carlyle in New York, has been signed up for the £75 million project and a planning application has been submitted to Edinburgh council.
Gareth Hoskins, the architect, says the new designs respond to the comments made by heritage organisations and the public during the comprehensive consultation process earlier in the year.
“We’ve listened and taken on board views from a wide range of organisations and individuals through the pre-planning process to develop a fundamentally different design for the site,” he said.
“The design focuses around an informed restoration of the central Hamilton-designed building, repairing its decaying fabric and maintaining the strong sculptural presence of its frontage without intervention. The existing building will be entirely given over to the public areas of the new hotel allowing its spaces to be fully accessible for the first time in the building’s history.”
Two new wings contain the hotel’s bedrooms and are planned in what is described as an “organic shape” with landscaped terraces and an undulating copper façade, inspired by the layered volcanic landscape of both Calton Hill and nearby Salisbury Crags.
These features, says the architect, allow the new wings to blend with the surrounding hill.
“The contrast of the form and colour of the new elements, together with the considered approach to the landscaping of not just the site but the streetscape around the former high school, allow this hugely important building to retain and reinforce its prominence as a key Edinburgh landmark.”
Rosewood currently manages 18 properties in 11 countries. Apart from The Carlyle, it operates the Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany.
It has experience in the restoration and and transformation of historic buildings, many of which are listed or are located inside World Heritage Sites.
In Paris, Rosewood is overseeing the complete restoration of Hôtel de Crillon. Situated overlooking Place de la Concorde in the centre of the city, the eighteenth century building is a Parisian landmark.
The fully-funded plan to convert Thomas Hamilton’s Edinburgh school into a hotel of international standing is led by Duddingston House Properties and Urbanist Hotels. David Orr, co-founder and chairman of Urbanist Hotels says that attracting a brand of Rosewood’s stature is a major coup for Edinburgh and Scotland.
“Rosewood is a truly world-class hotel operator combining their ethos of local engagement with their hotels of international standing, a commitment to excellence and a proactive approach to building skills and professional careers. By bringing Rosewood to Edinburgh we will be able to showcase our beautiful capital city and Scotland’s creative and cultural talents to a new global audience.
“The full restoration of Thomas Hamilton’s masterpiece will create a new accessible destination for the Edinburgh locals and visitors alike.
“Rosewood Edinburgh will be a prime example of Rosewood’s philosophy of A Sense of Place,” says Radha Arora, president, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.
“The former Royal High School is one of Edinburgh’s most important landmarks and we will be drawing on our experience with historic properties to ensure the heritage and history of this building is preserved and celebrated.”
The economic impact of the new hotel would be significant for Edinburgh and the whole of Scotland. The project is expected to create up to 260 jobs in the hotel while supporting a further 310 roles in the supply chain and 270 in the tourism industry over the next ten years. Independent research has estimated the hotel could contribute £31.5m to Edinburgh’s GDP and £36.7m to Scotland’s economy on an annual basis.
Graeme White, head of tourism at Scottish Development International, adds that the hotel sector in Edinburgh is a key aspect of the city’s economic infrastructure and therefore critical to the success of the tourism economy.
“Research into the tourism market suggests that a luxury hospitality brand such as Rosewood, could stimulate interest in Edinburgh to increase development opportunities and create economic value. Therefore we are happy to support this development as part of the city’s aspirations to be an international gateway city that can attract luxury global operators as per the city’s, and the country’s, tourism strategies. We look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.”
Gordon Dewar, chief executive at Edinburgh Airport and board member of VisitScotland, believes that having a new world-class hotel in Edinburgh would be a game-changer for Scotland’s tourism market.
“A Rosewood hotel in Edinburgh will allow us to market Edinburgh around the globe. We are constantly competing with many other European airports to attract investment into Edinburgh as both a market and a destination. A world-class hotel will attract a new level of interest and economic activity that will benefit everyone with a stake in the visitor economy.”
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, says that establishing an international hotel in Edinburgh at the very top end of the market is imperative if the capital is to meet forecasted visitor demand.
“The Tourism Development Framework for Scotland reveals that there is a need to provide more five-star accommodation in Edinburgh. In the ten years to 2023, the number of visitors to the city are predicted to grow by 4.4% to 1.6m which would rank Edinburgh first equal among UK cities in terms of growth.
“Therefore projects such as the former Royal High School development not only have the potential to help fulfil the capital’s requirement for more luxury accommodation, but are vital for the continued growth of Scotland’s tourism industry which is worth an annual £11bn to the country’s economy.”
Edinburgh is also a major destination for international conferences and Marshall Dallas, chief executive of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) points out that global visitors to the city now demand the quality accommodation a Rosewood Hotel would offer.
“Scotland’s capital is a magnet for many international business tourists and we are always looking at ways to build on this expanding marketplace. Being able to offer further luxury accommodation at the top end of the hotel market will make Edinburgh an even more attractive proposition for many global companies and organisations.”