The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte SquareJennifer Young • Photography by Gareth Gardner and Julian Franklin • May 9, 2018
Originally constructed as seven Georgian townhouses by 18th-century architect Robert Adam and formerly the Roxburghe Hotel, the in the Scotland’s capital recently underwent a full multimillion-dollar transformation from ‘s Edinburgh team and London-based , and a new story was born. “We developed a fictional owner for the townhouse interior, who was a well-traveled, slightly eccentric Scottish gentleman,” says Jo Littlefair, director and cofounder of the firm.
From there, the layering of colors, materials, and patterns were chosen to create an eclectic feel, with elements like vintage suitcases, hats, and canes found throughout, including in the ornate vestibule and in the Map Room where historic maps from around the world adorn the walls. With open views of the sky, the light-filled original courtyard has been reclaimed as part of the hotel’s interior to form a lush garden under a new glazed roof with timber-clad columns and cantilevered mirrors to maximize the sunlight pouring into the space.
The 199 guestrooms and 18 suites—spread across three locations, including the old block, the new wing, and the ‘wee hoose,’ a mini hotel within a hotel spanning four stories—are defined by saddlery and buckle embellishments, blue and gray leather, wing chairs, and ebony and gray stained oak cabinetry. They’re “full of character with fun and eclectic artwork in each room,” she points out, adding that “no two bedrooms are the same.”
However, it’s Levantine-inspired bar and restaurant BABA, helmed by chef-owners Jonathan MacDonald and Daniel Spurr—known for Glasgow eatery Ox and Finch—that’s the standout. Middle Eastern rugs hang from distressed seafoam green walls, while the red checkerboard flooring was selected to “wear with time and increase the scheme’s feel of worn authenticity,” says Littlefair. Bespoke, hand-forged lighting with metal chandelier casing complete the inviting, colorful space, matching the vibrant dishes on the menu.