Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh (previously the Point Hotel) has an historic location on Edinburgh’s Bread Street on the edge of the Old Town.
Nowadays, it’s a modern hotel with every amenity you need for a relaxing stay including two popular restaurants, Bread Street Brasserie and Monboddo, but it has a fascinating history centred around retail and design.
St. Cuthbert’s Co-operative
The building started life as St Cuthbert’s Co-operative in 1892, was further extended in 1898 and then again in 1914 to what is locally known as ‘the point’. It looks remarkably similar to the Flat Iron building in New York with a massive green dome and a gold statue on top.
As the St Cuthbert’s Co-operative, the building housed at its peak 3,000 employees and was the largest in the British co-operative movement.
We spoke to Nikki McDougall from the Hotel about its rich past where in fact, her own Grandfather previously worked in the Co-operative for the length of his career.
“It was a general department store and one of the things it sold was school uniforms and lots of children from Edinburgh would get their school shoes from the store, as it had an ‘X-ray’ machine to measure feet. We still get a lot of people coming into the hotel saying, ‘I remember coming here for my school uniform’.”
“It fell into disrepair and closed as a store in the early ‘90s. The architect Andrew Doolan, who at the time was quite famous and ground breaking, got a grant from the council to convert it into a hotel in 1996.”
Doolan gave the new Point hotel a minimalist aesthetic leading it to be one of the top 50 hotels in world. What’s now the Sky Bar and the penthouse suite was originally going to be his personal residence then converted.
He originally only converted part of the building into the hotel but as this proved to be so successful, he consequently incorporated other sections of the building into the hotel including renovating the conference centre and its key feature, the glass curtain wall, originally constructed in 1937 and the first of its kind in Scotland.
Inspired by history
“When Hilton took over the hotel, we took a lot of inspiration from its fabulous history, taking our time to make sure we acknowledged it in our interior design.”
“In Bread Street Brasserie, we use similar fabrics and colours for the upholstery that were used in the school uniforms and blazers sold in the Co-op. St Cuthbert’s Co-operative has also been very supportive and given us images to place around the hotel.
“There are a few original diamond tiles, which are now listed, left in the staff quarters and this diamond shape has been carried throughout the hotel, from the carpets to the custom made wallpaper and the mirrors behind the hotel’s reception. My own grandfather actually used to maintain these tiles when he worked here!
“The chandeliers in the hotel are actually the original lightfittings created by Andrew Doolan and Hilton were very keen to keep them in the décor.”
The Monboddo restaurant was actually named by Andrew Doolan after the infamous Edinburgh resident Lord Monboddo. He was a judge in the 1700s as well as a scholar of linguistic evolution, philosopher and deist. He is most famous today as a founder of modern comparative historical linguistics.
The Andrew Doolan Trust was set up by his family to reward up and coming Scottish architects and the UK’s largest architecture prize was renamed the Andrew Doolan award for architecture, showing just how influencial Doolan was.
Some of the architects that worked on the project still socialise in Monboddo and the Hotel run coffee morning for people who used to work in the Co-operative.
Bread Street Brasserie & Monboddo
If you’re not staying at the hotel, you can still appreciate the design and architecture of the venue; the standalone restaurants Bread Street Brasserie and Monboddo both have fantastic menus that let you relax and value the surroundings whilst enjoying a delicious meal.
Bread Street Brasserie has a pre-theatre offer on 5pm Dining with a menu that changes every week but you can expect dishes like lightly grilled fillet of sea bass Nicoise salad or chargrilled pork loin steak with apple mash, green beans and a peppercorn sauce.
Monboddo offers casual all day dining featuring sharing platters, burgers and smaller plates and has a la carte and afternoon tea discounts on 5pm Dining.