The first purpose-built hotel in Edinburgh is set to reopen to guests after more than 120 years. Apex Hotels plans to revamp former council offices on Waterloo Place, used as a hotel, tavern and coffee house from 1819.
The £13 million Apex project, which is expected to be approved by councillors this week , will see the building at 23 Waterloo Place - and further offices at 25-27 - made into a 182-bedroom, four-star hotel complete with a swimming pool and leisure centre.
The firm, which has two hotels in the Grassmarket, brokered a deal for the building earlier this year. It had been leased to the city council prior to the opening of its Market Street headquarters.
The A-listed building was designed and built by legendary New Town architect Archibald Elliot as part of a major expansion of Princes Street.
Librarians at the Edinburgh Room in the Central Library say the Waterloo Hotel was the first "purpose-built" hotel in Edinburgh. Prior to 1819, the Capital had inns but none could accommodate more than 50 guests.
The Waterloo Hotel Company used 23 Waterloo Place for almost 70 years until it was turned into offices by the North British Railway in the 1880s.
City centre councillor Charles Dundas hoped the scheme would revitalise the east end of Princes Street and Calton Hill.
"Any development of the properties on Waterloo Place is surely going to bring more people there and a hotel will help to attract tourists to this part of the city," he said.
"Waterloo Place is not currently used as much as other main streets in the city centre, so hopefully this could help make it a focal point."
And city council planning head Alan Henderson said: "This proposed hotel is in the heart of the commercial centre of the city, where mixed activities, traffic and noise are expected.
"The use of these buildings as a hotel will secure the long-term survival of these buildings, previously used as offices, and will not have any adverse impact on the area. One of the buildings was built as a hotel and this proposal will return it to its original use."
Heritage and tourism chiefs welcomed the move. Ben Carter of VisitScotland said: "Any additional Apex hotel for the city would certainly be a welcome boost for tourism in the region."
A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland added: "Historic buildings play a vital role in supporting the economic development of our cities and we are always keen to see their appropriate reuse."
The proposals will be discussed at a council planning meeting on Wednesday.
An Apex Hotels spokesman said the company could not comment on the plans before the meeting.
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