Goddard Littlefair have designed the interiors for the brand new Printing Press Bar & Kitchen at The George Hotel, Edinburgh as well as a new coffee shop, Burr & Co. The scope of works at The George - which additionally includes the ongoing refurbishment of hotel public areas, a complete refurbishment of all guest bedrooms and the creation of new bedroom suites, due for completion in January 2016 - follows the acquisition of The George Hotel by private investment group Starwood Capital.
The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen is a 92-cover, 186 sq m restaurant and a 116-cover, 207 sq m bar, which flow into and adjoin one other in order to maximise footfall throughout a three-meal service day, with the bar area open throughout.
The restaurant concept has been masterminded by chef-restaurateur Des McDonald and includes the appointment of new head chef Colin Fleming, previously of the Old Court Hotel in St Andrews and Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh. The restaurant has a grill-brasserie feel with an authentic Scottish direction and includes dishes such as Perthshire wood pigeon with heritage beetroot and hazelnut crowdie; mince and tatties, and marmalade steamed pudding with Drambuie custard.
"This is very much a fully-flexible, thoroughly thought-out F&B retail offer," commented Martin Goddard, Director of Goddard Littlefair, "which is aimed at residents of and visitors to the city of Edinburgh as well as at hotel guests, with maximum flow and adaptability throughout the day, so that bar guests can eat from the bar or restaurant menu for example, whilst Burr & Co offers soups and salads to attract lunchtime custom from passing trade and local office and shop workers."
The overall footplate for the new restaurant and bar was as per the existing hospitality space in the hotel, whilst Burr & Co inhabits space formerly used for meetings, with a new timber shopfront fascia, re-creating one of the original Victorian-era shopfronts and designed by architects 3D Reid, with branding by Plus Agency.
The hotel itself is formed of a series of five townhouses and is listed, which meant treading very carefully around existing surfaces and treatments.
"Our overall approach was to be highly respectful to the building's original fabric," explained Martin Goddard, "as well as to the late Victorian insertions, ensuring a feeling of restored grandeur and creating an environment that instantly feels long-established, with a real sense of the building's naturally imposing proportions adhered to, but also added to via simple detailing and the highest-quality, authentic materials, including oak, brass, ceramics, leather, velvet, glass and marble. As in all our projects, every single item of furniture and lighting is completely bespoke and designed entirely for this particular environment, positioning and clientele by Goddard Littlefair."
Part of the return to the building's optimum functionality is that the kitchen once again serves the dining room directly, rather than being separated from it as it had been in recent times. Guests enter either directly from the hotel or from the street's listed revolving door entrance, with the entirety of the front-to-back space of the Georgian terrace given over to the bar and restaurant, added to by picturesque views of Edinburgh's old alleyways to the rear. To improve flow, the bar counter has been moved from its former location at the front of the space, where it tended to block and impede restaurant access at peak times, to a raised level to one side, with the restaurant served by a dedicated dispense bar.
Listed or high-quality original features that have been retained include the ceiling and walls, where a special antique finish was used to restore the decorative plasterwork friezes. Flooring throughout is new and includes herringbone dark-stained oak sections and chequerboard tiling in black nero marquina and white carrrara marble. All joinery is bespoke and in oak, including the bar, which also has black metal and brass gantries with inset light to set off the displays of glass and spirits. The new bar top is in carrara marble.
Seating in the restaurant and bar is a mix of bespoke-designed aged dark tan leather chairs with brass stud detailing and banquettes with smoky blue velvet backs and blue leather seats. Tables are in dark-stained oak. Tall, ribbed glass screens with inset LED lighting break up the space and create a feeling of semi-privacy. Chalk boards for specialities of the day are inset into the screens, whilst angled mirrors above the banquettes allow for discreet people-watching.
Accessories in the space refer to Edinburgh's literary heritage and include excerpts from correspondence, set into clustered oval frames; a display of vintage type-writers and Scottish novels, as well as vintage printing press lettering, referring to the building's very first usage - and the source of the new name - as a printing press.
The design treatment for Burr & Co, where every single element is new as this was a converted and un-listed space, follows a similar colourway, but includes more obviously contemporary elements, including deep blue-green ceramic tiling and a special lighting display of ceramic pendants in varying sizes in the same blue-green colourway. Flooring and wall-panelling is in light oak and the banquette seating is in blue leather. A central feature, directly below the centrepiece lighting, is a wonderful long and bespoke oak refectory bench with seats, which pivot under the bench when not in use.
Photos: Gareth Gardner