W Hamilton Beattie, 1896-1902; stone-cleaned and substantially refurbished 1988-91. 5 storeys, mezzanine and attic quadrangular-plan hotel (4 basement levels to W and S) with extravagant French and Scottish detailing, 58 metre high entrance tower and dramatic sky-line. Sandstone ashlar, channelled to exposed basements; channelled pilasters to ground floor; Stuarts Granolithic, fireproof construction. Cill courses to ground, 1st and 2nd floors, continuous with advanced and crenellated apron course at 5th floor. Moulded cornices dividing mezzanine and 1st floors and 1st and 2nd floors; heavy stone-bracketed and dentilled cornice dividing 3rd and 4th floors (styling 4th floor as classical attic); restrained entablature at wallhead. Blind balustraded balcony-aprons to 1st floor, strapwork balcony-aprons to 2nd floor (removed from S and W elevations). Architraved windows at ground, 1st and 2nd floors, with keystoned round arches at intervals on N, S and W elevations of ground, and 1st floors; pilaster-flanked 3rd floor windows and predominantly round-arched and keystoned windows to 4th floor. Stone mullions to all floors, with transoms and alternating segmental and regular pediments to 2nd. Windows predominantly bipartite. 2-storey pilasters to 2nd and 3rd floors dividing bays and to angles, narrow strips terminating in console bracket to heavy cornice above, with broader pilasters to every 3rd bay and angle with panelled bases and diamond-panelled shafts. Further embellishments to tympanum and double attic gableheads. Ball-finialled stone domes to corner towers.
N (PRINCES STREET) ELEVATION: 9 bays (outer bays tripartite). Principal entrance in slightly advanced lower bay at centre; bay stepped forward in angular ripples; paired Ionic columns flanking entrance bay bearing entablature with triglyphs across recessed entrance; broad, keystoned, round-arched doorway with tripartite timber door and semicircular fanlight flanked by columns in re-entrant angle and with reclining classical figure sculptures carved in spandrels; 1st floor with paired, fluted Ionic columns flanking canted windows with single Ionic columns flanking centre light; canted window continuing up to 3rd floor. Flanking bays: 3 regular bays to left and right with secondary door to outer left breaking symmetry: Ionic columned and pedimented doorpiece with triglyph frieze and semicircular fanlight over corniced lintel; Dutch gabled ashlar dormerheads to 4th floor, bipartite windows at centre, detailed as towerhead gables, with NBR cipher carved in tympanum, and flanked by oculi. Outer bays with bowed windows at ground and 1st floors with oval oculi to each face of mezzanine (between floors); single windows flanking bipartite windows (detailed as towerhead gables but with segmental broken pediments and crowned by regular pediments). Outer bays crowned by large facetted domes with semicircular pedimented ashlar dormers to attic and decorative ball finials. Stone balustrade to basement area.
ENTRANCE TOWER: square-plan tower rising above principal entrance at wallhead from 4th floor; corbelled base with 4th floor parapet canted around, angled fillets to angles at 4th floor; bipartite window flanked by columns with cornice and segmental pediment cradling keystoned oculus and clasping rectangular pilaster-flanked panel with carved emblem above; pilastered angles with nookshaft in filetted angle, and pilaster strips flanking narrow stair windows to outer wallplane of each face; arcaded corbel table on moulded brackets with boxed recesses to frieze and dentilled cornice, corbelled angles with brackets to polygonal cornices, waterspouts to each face and each angle. Towerhead with Dutch gabled bays carrying large clock faces with Roman numerals; carving in gablehead pediment and finials; polygonal turrets with heavy stone, ogee crown spires and finials to angles. Lead spire truncated with circular ring and light; decorative ironwork crown.
E (N BRIDGE) ELEVATION: detailed as flanking bays of N elevation except: channelled pilasters dividing shopfronts at ground floor; glazed mezzanine (oculi to 2 bays to outer right); tall pedimented, key-blocked entrance bays to centre, left and right with oculi to mezzanine; 1st floor detailed as 2nd minus pediments.
W ELEVATION: detailed as above except: 2 basement floors adjoining Waverley Steps (listed with Waverley Station) with shops at lower level. 4-bay gabled centre section flanked by 2-stage turrets (detailed as above) at 4th and attic floors; 3-storey bowed oriel on consoled brackets with inward-canted windows to centre flanked by Ionic columns; bowed oriel to attic with oculus above, flanked by polygonal tourelles and topped by scrolled aedicule with empty niche. Bowed oriels to outer right and left (1st and 2nd floor to right, 1st floor to left).
S ELEVATION: detailed as W elevation except: 2-storey oriels to outer right and left to 1st and 2nd floors, that to right with oculi to mezzanine at 1st. Exposed basement with single windows alternating with bipartites in groups running 3:3:6:3:3.
INTERIOR: Edwardian classical decorative scheme retained in principal areas. Fluted Corinthian columns and pilasters to entrance lobby; balustraded gallery to mezzanine. Panelled dadoes and architraved doors. Classical marble chimneypieces. Ornate plasterwork and coffered ceilings (partly disguising beams). Palm Court of curvilinear plan with bowed recesses and elaborate pedimented picture frames.
Plate glass to timber sash and case windows; some plate glass casements to balcony areas and larger round-arched windows. Grey slates to steep roof. Tall corniced ashlar stacks.
Statement of Special Interest
Part of an 'A' Group with Nos 6-20 Waterloo Place, Nos 1-29 Waterloo Place, Waverleygate, Regent Bridge, Register House and 5-43 Leith Street.
Beattie won the commission to design the North British Railway Hotel as the result of a competition , in which Dunn and Findlay, William Leiper (see ACADEMY ARCHITECTURE), James Burnet, Peddie and Mackay and Robert Rowand Anderson were also competitors. Beattie was an expert in the field of hotel design; in 1893-5 he had designed Jenners Department Store (also in Princes Street), whose proprietor was involved in the selection. The souvenir brochure gives full description and illustrations of the lavish interior of the hotel in 1902. The rooms then totalled 700, of which 300 were bedrooms; 13,000 tons of stone had been used in the construction, 1,600 girders, 8 million bricks, 26 acres of plasterwork and 24 miles of cornice; there were 6 acres of floor. Access to the hotel from the station at basement level was closed in the early 1980's, and a swimming pool was built in the former entrance. The Cockburn Association were initially horrified by the scale of the hotel, but came to recognise it as a 'friendly monster.' External restoration work was carried out by A Campbell Mars Architects in 1990.