Boutique hotel planned for Edinburgh's New Waverley

Plans have been unveiled to transform a listed former school building off Edinburgh's Royal Mile into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

An artist's impression of the revamped Canongate Venture. Picture: Contributed
An artist's impression of the revamped Canongate Venture. Picture: Contributed

The Canongate Venture, designed in 1901 as an infant school by Edinburgh Board of Education architect Robert Wilson, is set to become a 21-room luxury “aparthotel”, managed by London-based Apple Apartments.

Apple, launched in 2013 by Fraserburgh businessman Billy Cowe and his brother Peter, runs serviced apartments on Edinburgh’s George Street as well as in Aberdeen, Belfast, Liverpool, London, Newcastle and New York.

“We knew straight away that this historic building would be perfect for our next specialist conversion project,” said Cowe.

Apple Apartments managing director Billy Cowe. Picture: Greg Macvean

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“As well as sitting alongside the Royal Mile, one of the world’s most iconic streets, it also has a range of striking features both inside and out, which make it genuinely stand out as a unique destination not just in Edinburgh but across the UK.”

He added: “There is a huge, growing demand for high-quality serviced apartments in good city-centre locations serving both corporate and leisure markets. The Canongate Venture is set to become a flagship aparthotel across our UK business, offering something a little different.

“As well as fully serviced rooms, we will also be incorporating 24-hour butler service, an exclusive customer lounge and a gourmet restaurant which will also provide room service for guests.”

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Apple Apartments managing director Billy Cowe. Picture: Greg Macvean

The planned revamp of the Canongate Venture forms part of the latest phase of the New Waverley development. It has grown out of the failed Caltongate scheme, which attracted criticism from a number of high-profile Scottish authors in 2014. Janice Galloway, AL Kennedy, Alexander McCall Smith, Candia McWilliam and Irvine Welsh were among the writers to put their names to a letter describing Caltongate as a “massive stale, sterile modernist confection of concrete”.

New Waverley project director Clive Wilding said: “Apple Apartments is yet another brilliant addition for a location which is now delivering on its promises.

“Since the turn of the year, we have opened two hotels – a Premier Inn and a Hub by Premier Inn – on site and are shortly to complete another, the Adagio Aparthotel, connecting to the Royal Mile through an exciting new public square.

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“We are also welcoming more independent traders to The Waverley Arches, a row of 15 converted Victorian arches which sits along from the Canongate Venture. This is all contributing to a major buzz about the area, bringing life and excitement back to what was once a neglected part of the city.”

The Canongate Venture project will be carried out by Edinburgh-based Staran Architects. Subject to final planning consents, building work is expected to begin in the autumn, with completion targeted by the second half of next year.