Royal Scots Club – country house charm in the heart of the city
Situated in the centre of Edinburgh, among the historic terraced houses of one of the capital’s most graceful Georgian crescents, the Royal Scots Club is a living memorial to the memory of the fallen of the First World War.
Now a popular place for visitors seeking a comfortable and convenient place to stay in the middle of the city’s celebrated New Town the club has a proud and distinguished history.
As the dark days of the conflict that was supposed to be the war to end all wars drew to a close an officer with the Royal Scots had an idea.
Colonel Lord Henry Scott, the younger son of the sixth Duke of Buccleuch, had experienced enough of the camaraderie of the battlefield to realise a noble birth was not necessary for a man to be a gentleman.
In 1919, while other regiments considered building monuments to remember their dead, Lord Henry proposed the founding of a club in the centre of Edinburgh for all ranks which would serve as a tribute to the regiment’s fallen comrades, all 11,162 of them.
Lord Henry’s idea received a huge amount of support and the Royal Scots War Memorial Fund was formed, trustees appointed and a Public Appeal launched which quickly raised over £2,000 in the first week. Eventually the fund increased to over £17,000, equivalent to about £5million today.
Within two years the fund had enough money to purchase numbers 30 and 32 of Abercromby Place, and The Royal Scots Club was born. Initially used exclusively for regimental alumni the club has reinvented itself several times over the years until, in the early 1990s, it eventually became what it is today – a private members club open to the public.
The club still has a thriving cohort of some 1,750 members but the facilities are now available for use by visitors to Edinburgh seeking accommodation, as a conference and special events venue or as somewhere to enjoy lunch or afternoon tea in genteel surroundings.
It is superbly located to enjoy the city. Just a brief stroll from Abercromby Place lies George Street with its mix of chic boutiques offering a range of fashionable shopping. The nearby cosmopolitan Broughton Street has a variety of bars and restaurants and it’s a only a short walk to the city’s famous Princes Street.
The club’s 25 bedrooms are individually designed and traditionally furnished with modern facilities and many have magnificent views over the rooftops of Edinburgh towards Fife.
The main hub of life at the club is The Cocktail Bar & Lounge. A perfect spot to relax it is open six days a week to members, non-members and families of all ages for a light lunch, coffee or maybe something a little stronger.
For a more formal gastronomic experience The Abercromby Dining Room on the first floor, with the magnificent view overlooking Queen Street Gardens, provides a perfect setting to enjoy the some of Scotland’s finest cuisine surrounded by Georgian splendour.
With its carved staircases, marble fireplaces, fringed pelmets, rolltop baths and king size or four poster beds the hotel has all the opulence and comfort of an exclusive country club.
However, despite the mix of traditional and modern trappings the club remains a memorial to those who have served. Today, the names of those lost, but not forgotten, in WWI are immortalised in a hand-written book in the Memorial Cabinet in the Club’s Entrance Hall. A second volume, listing the names of those 1,231 members of the regiment who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War lies next to it.
This year, to mark the centenary of the end of The Great War, the club is selling 10 inch Perspex Tommies to raise money for the war veteran charity “There But Not There” campaign.
These symbols of remembrance, made by veterans, are part of a nationwide initiative to raise £15 million to help heal those suffering with concealed wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder and other lasting legacies of combat.
“To have our Tommies on sale at The Royal Scots Club is a huge honour for “There But Not There,” said Henry Cochrane, Fundraising director of the inspirational campaign.
“In buying the Tommies, people are not only commemorating the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers, they are also supporting the veterans of today, with all profits going to charities supporting the armed forces community’