The Caledonian - fondly called The Caley, is Edinburgh’s grande dame, it’s legacy endowing it with unique character.
It’s interesting to see how spaces and structures continuously evolve over time to adapt to the needs of a modern society. A lot of heritage structures that fall into disrepair, and then are revived by corporates, get a new lease of life and a new generation engages with these historical beauties.
The Caledonian, in its original avatar, was actually a railway hotel, built in 1903 by the Caledonian Railway Company to compete with their rival, the North British Hotel (today’s Balmoral) of the eponymous railway company.
It was built exactly on top of the triangular shaped Princes Street Station, to provide travellers convenient accommodation.
Travellers and guests accessed the station and hotel through three large entrance arches, that remain till date.
The facade’s luminous red sandstone, the buildings hallmark, was carted from quarries, on the Caledonian’s own lines.
In the 80s, the stone was cleansed of oily soot (from the city’s chimneys over decades), to reveal once more its beautiful shade.
The hotel had 205 luxurious rooms decorated in Louis XV style, many with a view of the Edinburgh castle and its fine dining restaurant Pompadour is still legendary. Not surprising then, it’s clientele included many of the rich and famous.
The original cast iron entrance gates now serve as the entrance to the car park.(pic-8,9)
The original station ticket office and concourse have been remodelled into a lounge bar (Peacock Alley) and the original station clock (pic-10 )still chimes here, a glorious testament to the building’s history. It’s been set 5 minutes fast to enable passengers to make it to their trains in time !
The Caledonian reopened in 2012 as the UK’s first Waldorf Astoria Hotel- another momentous occasion in its history.
Old images credit - Wiki, Scotsman