By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Hoskins scoops 'super sensitive' Edinburgh hotel scheme

Gareth Hoskins has won the competition to redevelop one of Edinburgh’s most sensitive landmarks, the historic Royal High School on Calton Hill

Hoskins’ £35 million scheme for the landmark will transform the A-listed Classical building, which the council claims has been on a ‘sabbatical for 40 years’, into an ‘Arts Hotel’ with restaurant, café and public arts gallery.

Speaking to the AJ shortly after hearing about his victory, Hoskins said he was ‘very chuffed’.

The scheme for Duddingston House Properties will feature a ‘sensitive’ treatment of the central span with new build elements introduced on the site’s fringes.

The award winning designer, who is also working on Donald Trump’s mega golf-course in Aberdeenshire, added: ‘We’ve been in a lot of consultation with conservation bodies.

‘[However, we were] probably deemed to be the more controversial in planning terms.’

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage said: ‘The plans to reinvigorate the Royal High School are certainly most welcome.’

‘The Royal High School is one of Edinburgh’s most magnificent buildings, vital to Edinburgh’s epithet of ‘Athens of the North [and] has wider significance as part of the collection of monuments of national importance on Calton Hill and is an essential element of the World Heritage Site’.

Wilkinson thinks the project will ‘present many challenges and of course demand sensitivity, intelligence and beauty’ but will finally secure ‘a proper future for the building is also enormously important’.

Hoskins saw off competition from the likes of Richard Murphy and LDN Architects to win the commission.


The Royal High School has not been in public use since 1968. Built on Calton Hill in 1829 it is one of Edinburgh’s most imposing landmarks. A number of proposals for the school have fallen by the wayside including plans to move the Scottish Assembly into the building in the 1970s and a more recent scheme for a £20 million National Photography Centre, which was abandoned last year.

Readers' comments (18)

  • The choice of use, developer and architect seem to be attracting some critical cooment in the Scottish press.

    Scotsman today

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • .. and also of course Duddingston House is mired in controversy over its plans to part demolish a listed cinema in Edinburgh and turn it into an 'arts hotel', having left the building to get into disrepair.

    The plans were called in.

    Hoskins (OBE) isn't proving popular either with regard to his involvement with the Trump development, which will require Compulsory Purchase Orders on local residents homes and land. They don't want to move, Hoskins claims he can't design the development (spoiling an SSSI) without turfing them off.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • And the building isn't abandoned. it's still in use.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Just heard Alan Dunlop talking about this on the radio, he was very good and sounded like he knew a lot about it and was very positive about the developer. Did he make a bid?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • No idea, but as it's by another Glasgow architect and not one of those he's at usually at loggerheads with in Edinburgh no doubt he would be positive.

    It's not a good move politically for the council to have Duddingston House and Hoskins involved, but the CEC is really useless.

    The problem is the building requires repair and the council has not the cash.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • No

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Uncharacteristically short and sweet. Thank you for the clarification.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Duddingston House is the developer behind the Glasgow cinema scheme, is it not? The one which demolishes most of a Grade B listed building?

    Architects Dunlop and Murray?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Yes

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Is that still on hold?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Back to Calton Hill - Some people seem to think there aren't enough ruins in this location. You'd never know it from reading these comments and the links to the hootsmon, but a lot of architects, and other unemployed people, will be very pleased to hear that this building is being saved after 42 years in mothballs. A hotel is an appropriate change of use, and Hoskins and his team are already doing fine work at the Royal Museum and in St Andrew Square. Good luck to them.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • What is it about Scotland, the most boring architects seem to make the greatest impression, probably beacuse clients think they'll not scare the horses. Hoskins is the new David Page.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Welcome to ScoPhoCAC - the scotia-phobic character assassination club!
    Sniping at the success of Scottish Architects is our speciality!
    Membership is free, and not restricted to people with only a rudimentary grasp of spelling, punctuation or reasoned arguement!
    Deep down you just know the glass is half empty, so put those opposable thumbs to better use and get typing now!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Absoblinkinlootely, thanks mum

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • The building isn't in 'mothballs', it's in use. Those who work and study there are surprised and dismayed to find they don't exist. There are no 'ruins' now on Calton Hill, the monuments have recently been repaired in conjunction with Edinburgh World Heritage. The National Monument isn't a ruin, it was simply never completed. The RHS needs a little TLC but it isn't a ruin either.

    "Membership is free, and not restricted to people with only a rudimentary grasp of spelling, punctuation or reasoned arguement"

    Did you mean 'argument'?

    The problem isn't the architect, although he has blotted his reputation re the Trump issue, it's more to do with the developer, who hasn't a recent track record of dealing sensitively with listed buildings.

    It will be interesting to see how this one pans out. The 'art hotel' issue is a gimmick, one which Duddingston House has already proposed for the Odeon Cinema in Clerk Street. If that is given the green light following the public inquiry, will DHP go ahead with that too? Or is this now instead of?

    Another art gallery possibly isn't what Edinburgh is crying out for now. This is a hotel with a gallery as a sop to public access.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • ...and as for 'art hotels'

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Duddingston House Properties, £35m...Dream on.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Joe Rock

    As someone who has had an academic interest in the architect Thomas Hamilton [1784-1858] and the Royal High School in particular, for more than thirty years, I find the proposal to turn the building into a hotel quite laughable.
    The idea that any business, especially a hotel, could sustain the expence involved in the upkeep of a grade A listed building, where it can only make sensible use of three quarters of the space, is also a joke.
    This is not the solution to the High School problem and the developers know it.
    The most sensible idea to emerge in recent times was the proposal to turn the space into a National Photography Centre. That idea should be pursued by the Scottish government with a great deal more enthusiasm and intelligence than they have shown to date.
    The Royal High School is a monument of international architectural significance [read that again and digest] and it will require a great deal more imagination than the Edinburgh Town Council or the developers have shown by their actions so far.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters