The Principal Edinburgh, Charlotte Square

Goddard Littlefair


The Grade-II* listed, Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square hotel is located within the UNESCO world heritage site of the New Town, Edinburgh. Completed in September 2017, the £25m transformation of the former Roxburghe hotel included a complete revamp of the hotel's public spaces and 199 guestrooms and new F&B offerings in the form of former courtyard space 'The Garden', plus new Levantine-inspired bar and restaurant- BABA.

Differentiation from its nearby sister hotel was key, with the need for a 'hipper', more contemporary feel, whilst still respecting the building's Georgian heritage. To retain the building's unique character, several period elements were highlighted in the design scheme, including the refurbished original arched entranceway and Georgian panelled columns. 

A deliberately eclectic approach was taken with all the furnishings, to give the impression of pieces acquired organically over a period of time, and to reflect a fantasy owner's cosmopolitan style and taste. 

As guests enter, vintage walking sticks, hats and bags de-formalise the space and reinforce the sense of entering a private residence. The lobby features a 'salon-hang' art treatment, made up of vintage etchings, original paintings and contemporary prints and sketches, alluding to the private collection of a well-travelled individual. Unique furniture and artwork also feature in the function rooms.

A strong visual axis has been created internally so that new all-day dining space 'The Garden', a biophilic delight, is immediately visible on entering the hotel. Originally open to the elements, the former courtyard now features a glass roof, allowing year-round usage, whilst its space has been sub-divided to create a number of intimate nooks and corners. Inspired by the great hothouses of historic estates, reclaimed furniture and bespoke pieces are set against a palette of vibrant greens and yellows, creating an 'al fresco' feel.

The overall design treatment of the guestrooms and suites centres on comfort, colour and character. No two rooms are the same, with striking artwork and playful accessories adding interest to every room and contributing to the pre- established feel of the scheme. Considerable effort was made to ensure that the more uniform guestrooms in the new wing reflected the same sense of character seen in other areas of the building, whilst the 'old-block' guestrooms make the most of period details and balances tradition with a more youthful feel. 

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