A former bank in the heart of Edinburgh has been converted into a set of luxury apartments and high-end meetings rooms complete with a private members’ style club, cityscape views and a visually stunning staircase.
The Edinburgh Grand hosted its first event last night with a champagne and oyster reception on the roof terrace of the penthouse suite and invited a select group of city conference ambassadors to check out the new venue.
On a beautiful sunny evening, the former RBS headquarters, which has been mothballed since it was vacated in 2007, is once again back on the map as a landmark building put to good use on the capital’s St Andrew Square.
Complete with 50 apartments, many of which used to act as meetings and ante rooms for bankers, the $85m restoration, carried out by the Chris Stewart Group, has respectfully reinvigorated the spaces for the 21st century luxury leisure and business traveller.
The evening kicked off with Loch Fyne oysters and Champagne on the roof-top terrace – which can be hired for parties of up to 100 (the penthouse itself, which has been lavishly decorated, costs from £2-3,000 but sleeps six) – and a welcome by general manager Gavin MacLennan.
“This is a special moment for the city with the reopening of a venue that has not been seen by the public for many years,” he said. “The restoration has been carefully considered and the building brought back to life with beautiful attention to detail throughout.”
Elaine Miller of Convention Edinburgh gave a short introduction before MacLennan welcomed guests with a potted history of 42 St Andrew Square, which was acquired from the Chris Stewart Group in 2007 from former Hearts football club owner Vladimir Romanov, who had sought to turn it into a boutique hotel.
The approximately 35 guests were principally academics from Edinburgh’s medical and life sciences community, appointed ‘conference ambassadors’ by Convention Edinburgh, and who are active in bringing association conferences and meetings to the city. They were given an exclusive glimpse of the property, starting at the rooftop penthouse, which commands stunning views across the city to the Firth of Forth.
After canapés and champagne, they were divided into groups and shown some of the apartments, including the ‘Director’s Suite’, which features a lounge, kitchenette, double bed with pop-up television and a rolltop bath. Original features such as thick wooden doors – which had the appearance of old-fashioned bank vault doors – had been restored to their former glory as had the wood pannelled walls and architectural cornicing complete with luxurious furnishing.
The tour then continued to the private members’-style ‘The Register Club’, which features a bar and lounge area, where cocktails were served; The Register Club – operated by Bon Vivant – can be hired for parties of up to 100, and also for private dining. Anyone wishing to dine at the venue must book in advance and surrender their mobile devices, by way of a policy that is likely to appeal to those who wish to savour an atmosphere uninterrupted by the constant buzz of modern technology. The former banking hall on the first floor will house award-winning steak restaurant and cocktail bar, Hawksmoor, serving seasonal, quality food in a timeless space. Hawksmoor will open in July 2018.
MacLennan said the staircase, which surrounds the atrium and has a black and white optically illusive carpet to match the floor below, was conceived by interior designer Karen Brown, Head of Interior Design at the Chris Stewart Group. “When she first came up with the suggestion of the carpet, it seemed crazy, but it totally works. It’s a stunning view looking down.” He added that the original ceiling above the staircase has been replaced and special plastic mesh now emits the sunlight, but also acts as a safety feature if there was a fire. In the event of a blaze, the sheath would melt and the staircase would act as a chimney, letting the flames escape and making it easier to extinguish.
The property interior itself is inspired by Modernist American architecture and was designed by architects Leslie Grahame Thomson and Arthur Davis (interior architect of the Ritz Hotel in London and various ocean liners including the Aquitania and Queen Mary).
MacLennan added: “Everything has been done to the very highest standard. This is luxury design and style in its truest sense.”
- Lateral City operates the Edinburgh Grand. It is part of the Chris Stewart Group.
- Lateral City’s eclectic portfolio of apartments includes three distinct properties:
- Merchiston Residence, set in a leafy residential quarter, is a short stroll from the city centre
- 15thcentury, Old Town Chambers, located just off Prince’s Street
- The Edinburgh Grand
- Gavin MacLennan took up the position of general manager of Lateral City in 2015. He was formerly at Starwood Hotels and started his career at The Gleneagles Hotel.
- The magnificent Edinburgh Grand building is Neo-Classical, taking inspiration from the bank buildings of 1930s America.
- Constructed during WWII, between 1936 and 1942, the building was formerly the headquarters of the National Bank of Scotland and subsequently became the global head office for the Royal Bank of Scotland until it vacated the property in 2007.
- The building retains many outstanding period features including the original plate steel bank vaults, hand-etched windows and dark wood panelled walls.
- The classical sandstone exterior reveals a grand interior, with a vast atrium, original marble columns, bronze balustrades and dark wood detailing.
- Authentic features also include original fireplaces, brass door handles and decorative cornicing.
Meeting space capacity:
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