100 Years of the Scotsman Hotel
10 July 2015
Rushing up Like a Rocket: 100 Years of Edinburgh’s Famous Scotsman
“It seems like a city built on precipices, a perilous city. Great roads rush downhill like rivers in spate. Great buildings rush up like rockets.”
When author and journalist GK Chesterton surveyed Edinburgh in 1905 and made his observations, he was looking at a city standing on the verge of greatness. That’s not taking anything away from the Edinburgh he surveyed – the city rang rich with history, the new town was completed, and commerce, culture, art and academia were plentiful – but something was missing.
Edinburgh’s great cultural melting pot was not yet fully realised. In a few years the historic and contemporary facets of Edinburgh would fuse in a way that had never been envisaged. They would forge a unique identity, combining history, culture, entertainment and the arts, with a thriving business community and demanding tourist industry. The city would soon be on the cutting-edge… but not just yet.
In 1905 when Chesterton made his comments, a new building had just being completed in the city, a building that embodies the dichotomy of historic and contemporary culture. For over 90 years it was the beating heart of Edinburgh as the headquarters of the Scotsman Newspaper. Today this iconic landmark exists as the five-star Scotsman Hotel, a place where rich history is being preserved and contemporary Edinburgh is embraced. The hotel has a great legacy to live up to and so far it’s doing a remarkably good job.
A Gateway Between Old and New Edinburgh
Take a look at the most panoramic photographs of Edinburgh, and you’re likely to catch a glimpse of The Scotsman Hotel. It resides as an appendage to the famous North Bridge, right next to the Royal Mile and at the base of Arthur’s Seat. Just look for the elegant structure by the bridge with a grand flagpole sitting atop it. The Scotsman was constructed as part of an early 20th century project to widen the North Bridge connecting the old and new towns. The building, a 190ft tower, rushing up like one of GK Chesterton’s rockets, instantly became home to the then 75-year-old Scotsman Newspaper.
Looking around the hotel, clues are abound as to the building’s past. The famous marble staircase, once pounded up and down by editors rushing to and from the trading room, now takes pride of place as the centrepiece of the hotel. The elegant wood panelling from the editorial offices remains picturesque and intact. But the crowning glory are the marble pillars and balcony located in the hotel’s restaurant – the North Bridge Brasserie. These original features were once part of the newspaper’s trading floor, a grand, expansive room where advertising was painstakingly haggled over and a variety of big deals made.
Since it’s renovation to a hotel a great amount of refurbishment has taken place. The printing rooms are now a state-of-the-art spa, complete with Scotland’s first stainless steel swimming pool, steam room, fully equipped gym and a variety of treatment rooms. The middle floors, once the editorial offices, are now luxurious suites and individually designed rooms, each quaint, unique and brimming with charm; whilst the pigeon lofts – whose occupants were essential for receiving and distributing the latest news across Scotland – are now a two storey penthouse complete with sauna. Yet, despite all of these cosmetics, the hotel has lost none of its character. You can still taste the history today.
And this historical badge of honour is clearly worn by the hotel staff, who are earnestly passionate about working in such an august arena. Not least the resident doorman, who man’s his post in what can only be described as a uniquely bright and colourful tartan. The well turned out Ivor can often be heard enthusiastically answering questions about the hotel’s past, and on occasion, can also be heard proffering a sage “It’s better than having a boring family tartan,” to guests who enquire as to the provenance of his dress.
Serving Up Five-Star Luxury Style in a Unique City
In the late 1940s the fledgling Edinburgh Fringe Festival sprang up, closely followed by the installation of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and a Hogmanay celebration that got bigger every year. In the space of 20 years Edinburgh became a cultural melting pot like no other. This brought with it diversity, commerce and tourism on a grand scale.
For a few weeks of the year the city becomes the entertainment capital of the world, the rest of the time it is a bustling tourist hub for those seeking historical enlightenment. But at all times, Edinburgh is home to a thriving international business community, which needs to be provided for. As with their attitude towards the contemporary and historic sides of modern Edinburgh, The Scotsman Hotel manages to tread the fine line of successfully catering for both business and leisure clientele seamlessly and with immaculate facilities.
As well as being the physical gateway between the old and new towns of Edinburgh, the hotel is a reflection of everything the city has to offer; the historic and contemporary; a marriage of business and pleasure, entertainment and commerce. It is a hotel for a 21st century city that has achieved greatness and wants to be greater – it embodies everything Edinburgh stands for.
The Six Nations Championship and The Classic Rock Show in Edinburgh this February
The Six Nations returns to Murrayfield and The Classic Rock Show performs at The Queen’s Hall, all happening near The Scotsman Hotel this February in Edinburgh.Click here for more
Burns Supper with Perfectly Paired Whiskies
The Scotsman Hotel is offering a delicious Burns Supper with perfectly paired whiskies on 25th January, complete with Pipe Major and Highland dancers. Price: £59 per person.Click here for more