The Principal Edinburgh

The Principal Edinburgh is situated at 19–21 George Street in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.

The buildings were constructed around 1780 as part of Edinburgh's New Town. In the 1840s they were remodelled by the architect David Bryce, and again by MacGibbon and Ross in 1880. 

An amazing ancient greek style construction.It is now a category A listed building.

For the past 200 years The Principal Edinburgh has been a prestigious address.[citation needed] In Georgian times the poet Robert Burns paid many visits,[citation needed] as did the author Sir Walter Scott. In more modern times celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Kylie Minogue have visited.

The modern Principal Edinburgh includes 15-25 George Street, which were all originally built in the 1780s as individual town houses. Over time the buildings changed in use, becoming insurance offices, lodgings, and an artists studio as well as a hotel.

Owned by the Principal Hotel Company, The Principal Edinburgh was voted Best Hotel in Edinburgh at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2009. The hotel has eight individual conference and event suites, with the Kings Hall seating up to 270. Previosly when known as the The George Hotel, their in-house restaurant, the Tempus Bar & Restaurant, was voted Best Bar and Lounge at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2009.

John Young, circa 1780; now classical hotel with many later alterations. David Bryce, 1840-1; alterations and additions McGibbon and Ross, 1879-80; alterations R H Watherston, 1903; rear block Henry Wylie, 1968. 4-storey, 7-bay former office to E; 3 4-storey 3-bay former terraced houses to W; all with considerable alterations at ground.

NO 19 (INCORPORATING 15 & 17): cream sandstone ashlar. Channelled glazed arcaded rustication at ground, with pedestals to each pier; originally pilastraded (altered by Watherston); doorpiece to projecting centre bay framed by fluted and panelled pilasters and open segmental pediment; garlands in tympanum and arched doorway with mask keystone. Giant colonnade to 1st and 2nd floors of fluted Corinthian columns, engaged at centre bay, which has pedimented window at 1st floor; remaining 1st floor windows corniced. Massive entablature and dentilled cornice. 3rd/attic storey with pilastered arched windows and engaged fluted Corinthian colonnade; entablature and balustraded parapet with urn finials. Similarly detailed single bay return to E, adjoining irregular 5-story 5-bay stuccoed elevation framed by channelled pilasters; further tall 2-storey block beyond, containing former telling room (McGibbon & Ross). Single storey link to Wylie?s elegant 7-storey accommodation block to NE, with alternate horizontal bands of windows in bronzed frames and polished ashlar.

NO 21: ground floor treatment as above with simple pilastered arched doorway to right. Upper floors with moulded architraves; consoled cornices and single cast-iron balustrade at 1st floor; cill course (former cornice) at 3rd floor; heavy eaves cornice; later set back attic.

NO 23: projecting full-width painted Adam revival tripartite bay at ground; taller canted tripartite central section flanked by pilastered single bays with swan-necked pediments. 1st and 2nd floors with moulded architraves, cill courses; cornice above 2nd floor; later 3rd floor/attic with punched windows, cornice and blocking course.

NO 25: rendered to upper floors; projecting tripartite ashlar front to function rooms at ground, with broad central entrance bay, panelled pilasters, entablature and balustraded parapet. 1st floor windows with raised architraves and consoled cornices with blocking courses. Upper floors rendered with punched windows; cornice and blocking course continuing that of No 23.

Rear elevations of 2 and 3 stories with attics, on raised basements; ashlar.

Variety of timber sash and case windows, and several casements.

INTERIOR: lavish decorative scheme. Entrance hall with single row of columns; former banking hall with windows to rear with Corinthian columned aisles and glazed saucer dome; fitted restaurant seating.

Statement of Special Interest
No 19 was given a tetrastyle portico by Bryce, which was repeated across Nos 17 & 15 (house and tenement stair) by MacGibbon & Ross, who at the same time added the attic storey; Watherston later altered the ground floor, perhaps also altering No 21 to suit. MacGibbon & Ross were working for the Caledonian Insurance Company, while providing hotel accommodation on the upper floors for the adjacent George Hotel. The George took over the whole building in 1950. The W houses contain a significant surviving part of the original fabric of Edinburgh?s New Town, one of the most important and best preserved examples of urban planning in Britain.

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see www.historicenvironment.scot. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.


THE BUILDER 11 July 1879, 20 March 1880. 
Gifford, McWilliam and Walker EDINBURGH (1988) p299. 
C McKean EDINBURGH RIAS Guide (1992) p95. Valerie Fiddes and Alistair Rowan 
DAVID BRYCE 1803-1876 (1976) p92. Kirkwood?s Map of 1819. 
Dean of Guild plans 30th July 1840.

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