SCOTLAND’S most expensive hotel opens its doors on Tuesday – charging a minimum of £1,000-a-night.
Just a week after the UK economy officially slipped back into recession, The Atholl in Edinburgh’s plush west end promises to offer unimaginable luxury to well-heeled travellers.
The Atholl’s “cheapest” bed for a night is around four times more expensive than the basic rate for five star Scottish hotels such as the Caledonian and Balmoral in Edinburgh and Gleneagles, Perthshire.
For maximum privacy, guests check in at their own suite, as £125-a-time candles by Roja Dove – best known for their haute parfumerie at Harrods – flicker in the background.
The bedroom walls are clad in French fashion house Hermès wallpaper, the choice of Victoria Beckham, complete with matching £400 silk cushions.
And super soft designer rugs by Turkish firm Stepevi, worth £3,000 upwards, help take the strain off tired feet.
Breakfast – and dinner, if you have any money left to pay for it – have been dreamed up by Michelin three star chef Albert Roux, in his first venture north of the border.
Each of the four suites – priced from £1,000 to £2,500 a night – has its own dining room and a personal chef, trained by Roux.
And what better than to wash down your meal by picking something from the room’s wine cellar, perhaps the 2000 vintage Chateau Latour at £2,585 a bottle?
A total of £5m has been invested in the hotel but owner, Edinburgh businesswoman Alison Davies, is confident the gamble will be worth it – even in a recession.
“I know that we already have bookings so hopefully word is catching on,” she said.
She added: “We wanted the hotel to feel like a luxury apartment. We don’t want visitors to feel like they are in a hotel.
“Everything in each suite is hand-picked – nothing is shop bought.”
Norbert Leider, managing director of the firm that will run the hotel, set amid the Georgian splendour of Atholl Crescent, said the combination of space, luxury and privacy was already attracting tourists as well as corporate clients.
“What we offer is a completely private experience, which is difficult to get in a bigger hotel,” he said.
“Though our hotel is much smaller, our suites are far larger than those you get in bigger hotels.
“Our guest won’t have to wait in public lobbies or be seen by anyone.
“For that reason, it will attract a lot of customers who are looking for a very luxurious and private experience.”
He added: “We don’t want to be seen as a competitor for other hotels in Edinburgh because we offer a different experience.”
The suites are called the Palmerston, Cluny, Abercromby and Dundonald, each one featuring a 60inch 3D television in the lounge area.
All, including the “basic”, one-bedroom, £1,000-a-night Palmerston, come with state-of-the art Bulthaup kitchen, designed by Glasgow-based Cameron Interiors.
The private garden, found in the Abercromby suite, is designed by the Laurent Perrier Chelsea Flower-award winner Luciano Giubbilei (CORR), and also comes with a hot-tub and outdoor fireplace.
The bed linen throughout the hotel is designed by Peter Reed – one of the UK’s longest-standing textile manufacturers – starting at £35 per pillow slip and £300 for a simple flat-sheet.
Whisky lovers will go weak at the knees in the Dundonald suite as it comes complete with its own whisky tasting room- starting at £40 per dram.
Author of Scotland the Best, Pete Irvine, said the Atholl was “ambitious” in a time of economic turmoil but predicted it would be “hugely successful”.
“There is still a lot of money around and it is probable that many people will think nothing of these prices,” he said.
“Next to London, Edinburgh is one of the few cities in the UK at the moment which is still buoyant and prospering from tourism.
“It is certainly an ambitious undertaking at a time like this but the management company is extremely successful and will no doubt be successful with this venture.”
James Lackie, of government tourism body VisitScotland, said the hotel will “add another string to Edinburgh’s bow”.
He asked: “Why shouldn’t Edinburgh have a high-end hotel catering for those looking for a bit of luxury?
“If the service is consistent with the price tag, then there should be no reason to complain.
“It is wonderful to see that there is continued investment in the tourism industry in Scotland and it is great news for the industry.”
Referring to Roux, he added: “Having a world-class chef associated with a property in Edinburgh is fantastic for the city and will hopefully attract a lot of people to come and visit.”