Is this Edinburgh's best located holiday let?

A two-bedroom holiday let, with spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle, makes the most of its historic setting in the heart of the Capital.

Keith Coghill was working in Algeria’s oil industry in 2013 when he came across this two-bedroom property on Edinburgh’s Johnston Terrace.

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“We had suffered a number of terrorist attacks at site and I was looking for potential business opportunities back home in Scotland,” he says.

“I offered on a couple of flats in the Grassmarket, both of which had great views of the castle, but wasn’t successful with either and then this one came up.

"I was so impressed with the aspects from the living room and bedrooms all looking directly out onto the castle esplanade and the castle itself behind that.

"They were especially stunning at night when the castle is lit up, so I didn’t want to miss out for a third time.

"I asked the manager of the Reserve Apartment holiday letting agency to view the property on my behalf but I didn’t see it in the flesh until I’d bought it.

"When I eventually opened the front door, and saw the views first-hand through the old wooden shutters, I knew I’d done the right thing and that it was a keeper.

“The property had been part of a successful holiday letting business and it had been finished to a very high standard.

"The deep and dramatic colour scheme and furnishings were a perfect fit with the architectural style, location and breath-taking views.”

Picture: the living room, Reserve Apartments

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Keith didn’t see the point in changing the colour scheme for the sake of it. “It’s not a property for those who are a fan of magnolia but it’s very in keeping with the style and proportions of the house.

"Surprisingly, for such dramatic colours, the dark greens and blues don’t detract from the views, rather they make them more powerful and complement them, while the ornate gold and green curtains have been very well cut to frame the windows and set the views off further.

"Other than a few touch-ups, there was very little work to do to have it exactly as I would have wanted it.”

Picture: 16 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh, Neil Hanna Photography

Keith’s previous property project was a rebuild of a ruined cottage on Loch Ness,but the lack of hard graft required at Johnston Terrace suited him on this occasion.

“The apartment is part of a proper Edinburgh tenement in the Old Town. It’s on the fourth floor in a narrow close so actually part of the appeal was that I didn’t have to remove and rebuild anything.

"I didn’t even have to move in any large furniture as the furnishings and decor were already in place. Being on the fourth floor with a tight stone staircase would have made that a nightmare.

“You occasionally get comments from those guests not familiar with the old tenements that there are a lot of stairs and you could do with a lift, but this is original Edinburgh.

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"It’s teeming with history and if you don’t have the stairs you don’t have that view. It’s a lovely old listed building constructed in 1864, the same year as the last public execution in Edinburgh just down the steps at the Grassmarket.

"For me if you’re in the Old Town, you want to be in the ‘real’ Old Town and this is it. Just walking round the area you get a real feel for centuries of history.

Picture: the living room, Reserve Apartments

“The double-aspect main living area is a sitting room/dining room/kitchen. You can sit on the large, L-shaped sofa and from one window you can see the entire esplanade and castle.

"Then by simply turning your head you have a clear view overlooking the Grassmarket and the Pentland hills beyond. The views are strangely both relaxing and thrilling at the same time.”

Picture: the views of the castle from the dining area, Neil Hanna Photography

While the views are the main selling point of the flat, it didn’t take Keith long to get hooked on the history of the property and that’s when the project became personal.

Picture: the twin room, Reserve Apartments

“Three years ago, I went onto eBay and Gumtree and spent the subsequent years buying anything and everything that had the same views as those afforded by the property’s windows,” Keith says.

“From old black and white postcards from the late 19th/early 20th century which I’ve framed, antique prints, paintings and etchings, old decorated lace tablecloths, Victorian paperweights, glassware, porcelain plates and old Mauchlin Ware as well as a veritable library of books and pamphlets relating to the castle, the history and the surrounding area.”

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Picture: 16 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh, Neil Hanna Photography

Which is where the literary corner or library in the flat came into play.

“Initially the area housed a small piano but I thought it lent itself as a good space for the laptop or to go more old school, a place in which to put a desk and write a letter whilst taking inspiration from some of Edinburgh’s literary greats.

"The books here have been left by guests over the years and I’ve kept any that are relevant to Edinburgh and this specific location.”

Keith admits that his addiction to eBay and Gumtree could have filled the flat twice over, but he has reined in his purchases, though his wife Anaida may disagree.

“I don’t think I’ve got to the stage of throwing anything out – although things have ended up in our own house in Aberdeen – but I think the flat is pretty full now.

Picture: 16 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh, Neil Hanna Photography

"The walls are covered, the bookcases are full and there’s very little remaining free space that isn’t home to some old castle knick-knack.”

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For a turn-key purchase, this property has become more of a project than initially planned.

“My next job is to go onto ScotlandsPeople website and start going through the census from 1871 onwards to try to trace back and build a history of who lived here, what they did and how they lived.

"It puts a bit of meat onto the bones regarding the history of the building. I think it’s a property that deserves that.”

For more information on the property and how to rent it, please visit the Reserve Apartments website

Words: Nichola HunterPhotographs: Neil Hanna