Acquiring for himself a tidy fortune in the process, he duly spent it on acts of public benefaction.
In Edinburgh’s Dean Village, he was appalled by dilapidated tenements which his grand home overlooked. So he bought and demolished the lot, and employed architect Sydney Mitchell to design model housing, reflecting the Arts and Crafts style, for “a respectable class of working man”.
An advertisement from the 1880s described the development as “providing homes of two or three rooms with conveniences at rentals of £7 to £12 per annum”. Residents were under strict behaviour rules, with compulsory attendance of the church service held at Well Court Hall on Sundays. Residents could be locked out if they stayed out at night too long, hence the need for the clock tower above the development.
Findlay would surely be appalled at the prospect of a lowly Scotsman journalist staying at Well Court Hall, to review its transformation into luxury self-catering accommodation.
Budget or boutique?
There will be no slumming it during our stay. All areas are subtly decorated, with the best of 21st century design encased in a gorgeous historic sandstone shell. Most original features have been retained, with a focus fireplace with plaster panels dominating the far end of the open plan living space. An intricate carving moralises “be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves” on the chimney. There are round stained-glass panels which allow sunlight to flood the room, and dark timber panelling on the ceiling. The open plan living/dining area has a study and seating located in the turrets and the accommodation features three swanky double bedrooms, all en-suite. The arched floor light from Ligne Roset takes pride of place in the seating area, and the purple “Ro” chair from Fritz Hansen creates a quirky interior twist hiding in the turret.
The master bedroom, which I quickly nabbed, is perched on the top of the mezzanine level which protrudes above the kitchen space. The room is encased in a glass box, which stylishly rocks a Cinderella vibe. The room’s quirky en-suite is located in the clock tower, with a ceiling some eight metres high. It features a swish wash-hand basin and egg-like Erba Badekar bath, guaranteed to make you feel like a superstar reclining in sheer luxury. The lighting is by a modern statement copper pendant, which resembles something out of a science fiction film.
The ground floor bedroom has a bespoke wardrobe and dressing area, ideal for fine-tuning your makeup before heading out for a night – but remember, Cinderella had to be back by midnight.
The rainfall fixed shower head is ideal for unwinding before bed, so teen daughter nabs the bedroom with this beauty straight off.
Bedroom three is tucked into the attic space with bespoke storage and exposed beams. It’s more palatial than a tiny garret, due to clever use of steel beams, and another en-suite delivers luxury on tap for daughter number two.
Wining and dining
We have a quiet girlie night in with snacks in front of the television, but if you want to get creative in the kitchen there are two ovens and a wine cooler, to chill the champagne to perfection. However, the best West End eateries are within easy strolling distance.
Worth getting out of bed for
Early morning coffee and croissant, looking out over the picturesque and leafy Water of Leith is hard to beat. Alternatively take in some culture at the Dean Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art only a short stroll away.
All bed linen and towels, cleaning if you are staying for longer than a week, plus Sonos sound system, free wifi, Nespresso machine and Sky TV.
With tasteful design features and high spec, this is a top notch party pied-à-terre.