Club conversion

Princes St hotel scheduled for November opening

Over-seas House

An opening date has been set for the latest addition to Edinburgh’s hotels portfolio and will help stem the rise in vacant buildings.

100 Princes Street will open on 1 November and provide 30 rooms for operator Red Carnation Hotels in the former Royal Overseas League private members’ club.

It is Red Carnation’s first property in Scotland and its 19th worldwide, a portfolio which includes Hotel 41, overlooking the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, and Ireland’s Ashford Castle, once home to the Guinness family.

The Princes Street building will return to its original purpose, having opened in 1879 as the Windsor Hotel. In 1930 it was converted to the Royal Overseas League club.

It was the first mixed club in the city and had 20 bedrooms, a bar and restaurant. All the furnishings were made in Scotland and it became a popular venue for Commonwealth visitors, including the prime ministers of Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The club closed in January 2018 with repairs estimated at £2 million and refurbishment at a further £3.5m.

Its re-launch as a hotel, announced in July 2019, will bring some relief to the street which has suffered from the closure of Debenhams and Jenners, which was also damaged by a fire, and BHS, partly converted to a hotel and shop units. Other shops, such as Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Holland & Barrett, have closed, while Next and Zara departed for the St James Quarter. HSBC also closed one of its few branches in Scotland.

100 Princes Street will have a residents-only Explorers’ Club which will offer guests a ‘quintessentially Scottish experience’ and signature local dishes. 

In keeping with the club’s history, the hotel, designed by Toni Tollman, Philippe Bonino, and Brian Brennan, has been curated with furnishings and artwork from local artisans – including custom-made tartan by Araminta Campbell, and a central staircase with a hand-painted mural by Croxford and Saunders, honouring the adventures of great Scottish explorers of the past.

Rents rise in George Street

Rents on Edinburgh’s George Street have risen by as much as 25% in the last 12 months, reaching £150 per sq ft for prime Zone A units, according to Savills.

This follows the latest deal involving Me&Em, which brings the vacancy rate on the street to just 5%, falling from 15% at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Savills notes that back in 2020 there were circa 11 available units on the street, whilst there are now just four, all of which are receiving good interest or are under offer. Given the level of demand, along with the recent lettings, rents have also seen a significant recovery. Zone A rents for the prime section of the street are now as high as £150 per sq ft, up from £120 per sq ft 12 months ago.

George street has welcomed 12 occupiers in the past 18 months. Whilst some of these have been relocations from elsewhere in the city centre, 50% of these are new brands to Edinburgh. These include:

  • Black Sheep Coffee
  • Joseph Cheaney
  • Jimmy Fairly
  • Me&Em
  • Monsoon
  • Aubin & Wills
  • Jigsaw
  • Whitestuff
  • The Alchemist
  • Astrid & Miyu
  • Sweaty Betty
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Cambridge Satchel Co

Savills has also seen increased demand for food and beverage (F&B) units, with cocktail bar The Alchemist now open in the space formerly occupied by Laura Ashley. 

Isla Monteith, director in the retail team at Savills Scotland, comments: “With a number of other units further west on the street now under offer to F&B operators, this signals a return of national F&B brands to the city centre.

“Until recently, the F&B market in Edinburgh has been dominated by local independents, who have focused on edge of prime and affluent suburban areas of the city. Looking ahead, the planned pedestrianisation of the street is also encouraging this blend of F&B and retail further, so we will no doubt see this trend continue.

“Elsewhere in the city we are also now seeing the regeneration of Princes Street. Whilst this is a slow process, the large scale redevelopment of many of the more sizeable blocks is now underway.

“The St James Quarter is also performing very well and this is helping to encourage brands to consider Edinburgh, whether in St James itself, or locations such as George Street.” 

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