Gleneagles Townhouse opens its doors in Edinburgh - Scotland on Sunday Travel

The rural luxury resort comes to stay in its Edinburgh town house

The refurbished former bank that is now Gleneagles Townhouse, now open in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Pic: Janet Christie
The refurbished former bank that is now Gleneagles Townhouse, now open in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Pic: Janet Christie

It’s been worth the wait as Gleneagles Townhouse, the new city outpost for the luxury Perthshire resort, a 33-bedroom five-star hotel located in a former bank on St Andrew Square, with an all-day restaurant, rooftop bar and members' club, opens its doors to the public this week.

After a five year transformation the grand glass-domed building that dates from 1846 speaks for itself, standing square in one of the city’s prime locations and topped off with six statues looking down over a quartet of flags above the entrance. The grandeur continues on the inside with impressive original features including high corniced ceilings, polished granite columns, marble fireplaces, wood panelling and ornate tiled flooring.

Here and there are echoes of the dark green livery of the Gleneagles mothership in Auchterarder but the Townhouse iteration is soft and light filled, with artwork by contemporary Scottish based, predominantly female, throughout the building, in a nod to times when women had to resign from the bank on marriage. There’s a palette of fresh and airy greens, pinks and pale blues in the decor and furnishings with soft lines and luminous spaces, thanks to the huge windows and giant dome above The Spence restaurant and bar in the former banking hall, with plants everywhere.

You don’t have to be a member to stay or eat but if you are there are room discounts, gym and state of the art wellbeing facilities, classes and treatments (including a cryotherapy chamber and an infrared sauna) in The Strong Rooms housed in the vaults, and the Lamplighters rooftop bar, as well as a members’ lounge and various meeting and private dining rooms at your disposal.

General Manager Willem van Emden says: “Gleneagles Townhouse is the next step of the evolution of the brand. It’s a building with such history and we’ve given it a modern touch. We want it to have a residential rather than a clinical hotel feel because it’s a townhouse and every room should feel part of a house. We describe ourselves as the younger sibling that grew up in Auchterarder, left home at 18 and travelled the world, to New York, the Far East, and is now in the city. We are very proud of our name and roots and proud to bring Gleneagles to the city, but we also want our own identity and soul. We want to be for the city and from the city, something new and exciting.”

Budget or boutique?

It’s a petite five star luxury hotel.

The Spence, all day dining restaurant and bar in the former banking hall. Pic: Contributed

Room Service

There are 33 rooms fashioned from this former bank building, and mine didn’t disappoint: a Master bedroom with claw foot bath at one end and kingsize bed with drapery headboard at the other, and separate shower and WC rooms. A marble washstand, sideboards and a desk, a duo of plush chairs, a huge flat screen TV and mix of antique furniture and complementary bespoke reproductions added up to a spacious, well-appointed blend of historical and contemporary comfort. In the same pinks and greens as the public spaces, the room also came with paintings by Glasgow-based Turner prize nominated Ciara Phillips and Sekai Machache, an Edinburgh artist of Zimbabwean origin.

Wining and Dining

The Spence restaurant is the place for breakfast lunch and dinner, under the gaze of greats of the Scottish Enlightenment, including Walter Scott, John Napier, James Watt, David Wilkie and Adam Smith, portrayed in plaster medallions around the room just below the ceiling, alongside the exuberant females in the site-specific artwork from France-Lise McGowan.

A master bedroom in Gleneagles Townhouse, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Pic: Contributed

Settled into one of the banquettes we ordered from a menu that honours the hotel’s aim of featuring local produce from dawn to dusk in bites and snacks, mains and desserts and breakfasts. Head chef Jonny Wright serves up modern Scottish cuisine such as Tweed Valley steak and Isle of Mull scallops and we opt for a West coast crab crumpet and Faroe Islands bacalao beignets (spheres of salted cod and potato, crispy, then fluffy, with a chilli bite), and spinach and broccoli filo tart, delicately layered yet packing a flavoursome punch, and fell in love with a side of charred hispi cabbage heart, leaving us too full so sample the likes of baked banoffee alaska with a spiced rum and caramel sauce.

Up on the roof, Lamplighters (named for the Robert Louis Stevenson poem) is the perfect place for a nightcap with six signature cocktails inspired by the resident statues who represent navigation, commerce, manufacture, architecture, science and agriculture, enjoying views over St Andrew Square to the Edinburgh skyline and beyond.

In the morning I followed waiter Georgia’s breakfast recommendation of house shakshuka - baked eggs, tomatoes, labneh, olive oil, peppers, onion, garlic and harissa - an instant wake-me up.

Worth Getting Out of Bed For

The imposing lobby of Gleneagles Townhouse, with original staircase and tiled flooring. Pic: Contributed

The city is at your feet with galleries, restaurants, shops and tourist hotspots aplenty - The Townhouse recommends the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Van Gogh Alive exhibition and Stockbridge Market - or you could lie back in a roll top bath and gaze at the artwork in the room.

Little Extras

A pre-dinner ‘penicillin’ (whisky and ginger) cocktail honouring Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming and a glass box containing a selection of individual chocolates were a nice surprise.

Guestbook Comments

If Gleneagles left its glorious Auchterarder country home and came to town for a weekend city break, this is where it would stay.

Prices currently start from £495 per room.

Lamplighters, named for the Robert Louis Stevenson poem, where members can enjoy drinks, meals and views of the Edinburgh skyline. Pic: Contributed

Gleneagles Townhouse Membership £2,200 annual or £192.50 per month + £350 joining fee, under 33s £1,100/£96.25pm + £175 joining fee.

Address, Gleneagles Townhouse, 39 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD, (0131 322 3780, https://gleneagles.com/townhouse)

Read More

Read More
The Portobello Hotel, Notting Hill, London - checking out the Staycation concept...
The engraved glass dome in the former banking hall that is now home to The Spence, Gleneagles Townhouse's all day dining restaurant and bar.