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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Dipal Acharya

Edinburgh’s Gleneagles Townhouse is ready to welcome you for Hogmanay

It’s a funny thing, being a little sister. On one hand, life is supposed be a smoother road, paved by the hardships and travails of the elder sibling. On the other, there are the impossible standards — the universal awe and admiration for everything the firstborn has achieved, which quickly dissipates with the second. It can be a tough act to follow.

A quick origins story: Gleneagles hotel opened in 1924 and was hailed as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’, a playground for the rich, famous (and occasionally royal) to tee off on a renowned golf course and decompress after a busy London ‘season.’

Nearly a century later in 2015 it was bought by Ennismore (the company behind The Hoxton hotel group and Mayfair member’s club Maison Estelle) for a top-to-toe renovation that had people whispering that Glen would become ‘the Soho House of the north’. Not quite; it was better.

So it was hardly a bombshell revelation, then, when the group announced it was going to take over one of the grandest townhouses on St Andrews Square in Edinburgh soon after. A sister property ‘to bring the Gleneagles magic to the Scottish capital’. Would the second act live up to the hype?

We checked into the hotel on the cusp of the city’s Hogmanay preparations. I had brought my own big sister, Lily, along with me because there is no better plus-one for a footloose and child-free weekend away. And if we were granted a pink ticket, this was the place to use it. Fabulous interiors are part of the Ennismore DNA: it’s transformed what was once an RBS building into a pleasure palace for modern times.

(ES Magazine)

Moody wood accents and heavy green velvet in the communal spaces imbued the Townhouse with a feeling that it was exactly the kind place to get up to mischief. Cloistered further within was a members-only space — The Note Burning Room — which offered even more privacy. At the rooftop bar, Lamplighters, we drank perhaps one dram too many (compromising our ability to scale Arthur’s seat the next day).

The rooms were the tonic to our hangovers: the plump pillows like an inviting bosom to bury our heads in, the roll-top tubs thoughtfully furnished with bath salts to soak away our sins. I was particularly taken — okay, maybe a little irritated — by the fact that the TVs weren’t programmed with any streaming services to catch up on The Crown or the latest White Lotus episode, forcing us to get out and explore the beautiful city.

Which we did with great alacrity thanks to some sterling tips from our hotel concierge Derva and a handy QR-coded walking map. We swerved the tourist hordes and questionable cashmere stores on the Royal Mile for cute coffee shops in Bonnington and Broughton, antiques shopping in Leith and lunch at Timberyard, a former 19th-century props warehouse turned chic family-run restaurant with a Stoke Newington vibe.

(ES Magazine)

Back at the hotel we squeezed in speedy massages at the superlative spa, stacked with bespoke tinctures exclusive to Glen along with a smattering of Dr Barbara Sturm hero products, and supper in The Spence (who could resist the dessert trolley or baked Alaska). As 48 hours go, our time at Gleneagles Townhouse was spot on — proof that there’s no sibling rivalry here, just plenty of space and diversion to have your mischief managed.

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