Robert Adam, 1793-1805. Symmetrical 3-storey basement and attic 27-bay neo-classical palace block consisting of 11 houses, 9 entered from front and 2 from ends. Polished cream sandstone ashlar. Rock-faced basement; V-jointed rustication at ground floor with impost course where appropriate; cill course to 1st and 2nd floors (excepting pavilions); cornice and blocking course.
S (CHARLOTTE SQUARE) ELEVATION: slightly projecting 7-bay centrepiece with engaged tetrastyle portico flanked by paired columns, breaking forward again; balustrades between column bases; windows at 1st floor in round-arched recesses alternate with circular plaques; carved and fluted frieze with blank panel at centre; balustraded parapet framed by festoons. End pavilions broader spaced with pilasters to upper floors; Venetian windows at ground in round-arched recesses; at 1st floor, balustraded windows, tripartite window in round-arched recess at centre and flanking windows with consoled cornices; solid parapet with festoon at centre supporting sphinx; pyramidal roof. Inner bays arcaded at ground. Tripartite doors with variety of radiating fanlights at centre of centrepiece and pavilions, thence every 3 bays moving outwards; original metal fanlights to Nos 1, 2 and 3.
W (GLENFINLAS STREET) ELEVATION: 5-bay; basement built out to provide full-width platt to ground floor. Doorway at centre as above (later 2-storey porch removed); all windows blind except to far left at ground and 3 alternating at 1st floor.
E (NORTH CHARLOTTE STREET) ELEVATION: 3-bay; basement and door as above, with impost course at ground. Upper floors with corner pilasters and slightly projecting centrepiece; arcaded 1st floor with blind balustrading and fluted impost course; rosettes flank centre window at 2nd floor (1 glazed); balustrade and wallhead stack at centre. Large box dormer.
REAR ELEVATION: dressed rubble. Mostly regular with many cast-iron balconies at 1st floor; canted dormers to W, full attics to centre and E (with 1 exception). Various extensions at basement level.
Timber sash and case 12-pane windows; some plate glass to rear. Grey slates, ashlar coped skews; corniced ashlar stacks.
INTERIORS: Nos 1 and 2 interlock; the former with one of finest interiors in Edinburgh: small entrance leads straight into rectangular stairwell with fine wrought-iron balustrade; ceiling with fan in concave husk garlands; former Dining Room to front with arched pilastered sideboard recess; later opening to rear room filled by gothic astragalled glass screen installed in 1968 by Robert Hurd & Partners (made by Whytock & Reid); enriched ceiling with garlanded oval; former Drawing Room with fine ceiling of 8-point star set in oval; enriched timber chimneypieces installed in 1968, at which time links made at all floors with No 2. This remodelled circa 1840 with heavy Greek detailing. Nos 1-4 are now single office.
No 5 remodelled from 1903 in finest quality by A F Balfour Paul (manufactured by Scott Morton') for Lord Bute with oak panelling to ground and stair, cedar detailing at 1st floor and naturalistically painted ceiling, copied from a Adam design for Luton Hoo, to Drawing Room, and similar one to interconnecting Rear Drawing Room; fine contemporary marble chimneypieces.
No 6, Bute House, with T-plan entrance hall with rosetted ceiling and consoled white marble chimneypiece; Dining Room to rear with enriched ceiling; large stairwell to right; fine Front Drawing Room with swagged oval ceiling and beautiful white marble chimneypiece, contemporary but not original to house, with centre panel of Galatea; similar but original chimneypiece to Rear Drawing Room. David Rhind, Thomas Leadbetter and Balfour Paul all made alterations, respectively, 1867, 1889 and 1924.
No 7 heavily restored, 1975; flagged hall and rectangular stairwell with swagged oval skylight; Dining Room with early 19th century black slate chimneypiece; room to rear at ground with timber and gesso chimneypiece from Tarvit House, Fife. 1st floor cornices of 1975, Drawing Room chimneypiece from No 5, that to rear from Tarvit House. Wine cellar is original. Alterations by John Watherston and Son, 1871 and 1889, Balfour Paul, 1926.
No 8 refitted in best late 18th century French manner in 1897-8; original 18th century enriched ceilings at ground, later versions at 1st floor.
No 9 with enriched ceiling to former Dining Room.
RAILINGS AND LAMP STANDARDS: cast-iron spearhead railings and original lamp standards.
BOUNDARY WALLS: coped rubble boundary walls enclose former gardens (now car parks) to rear.