From Number 8 to Number Twelve.
I meet with Simon Taylor, former Scotland Rugby International Number 8 to talk about putting the pitch life behind and how he’s adapting to his most recent challenge of become a hotelier.
Simon and I first met about ten years ago when rugby was our common interest. He and my (now) husband both played rugby for Edinburgh and Scotland.
A few clubs on and with retirement from rugby under his belt we now meet with a totally different common interest; luxury hotels.
Setting the Scene
I arrive at the hotel a little early so make myself comfortable in the informal lounge area. The open fire is roaring and the traditional tweed style décor (with a modern twist) makes you feel instantly comfortable and part of high society. The windows at the front of the building are huge which means I am perfectly positioned to do a spot of people watching while I wait for Simon.
This lounge area also hosts an arrangement of vintage yet quirky artifacts such as a Brahms Solti Four Symphonies record under the watchful eye of a wall mounted stags head. It’s these touches that give the hotel real character.
Simon arrives and after catching up on the family and friends gossip we talk business.
CW: You retired from professional rugby at the end of the 2013 season. Did you have a game plan? (pardon the pun!)
ST: I studied law and did try this out, albeit briefly as I quickly learned that a desk based profession wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something that was a bit more tangible.
CW: So how did you become involved with Twelve Picardy Place?
ST: Twelve Picardy Place used to be a bar (in which I was a silent partner) but we felt it lent itself more to a hotel so when the transition happened it coincided with my retirement from rugby so it all fell into place quite nicely.
CW: How has the transition from rugby player to hotelier been so far?
ST: I’ve only been working full time at Twelve Picardy Place for three months so it’s still really early days. Although rugby was a fun environment to work in I’m not missing it too much. I’m learning lots and the type of work that is involved with running a hotel means that I’m still really active.
CW: What exactly do you do here (at Twelve Picardy Place)?
ST: I look after everything behind the scenes to make sure that the hotel and restaurant run efficiently (from both a guest and business point of view). There is no typical day; each day is so varied which keeps it interesting.
I still have lots to learn but I’ve made a point of working in every role at the hotel. I think this is really important as it helps me gain a real understanding and appreciation of how the different teams and functions work. I even spent some time manning reception and it gave me a new found respect for what’s involved!
The Hotel: Twelve Picardy Place
CW: Tell us more about the hotel – the building is very old, is there much history behind it?
ST: The statue (just opposite the window in the lounge) is dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (famous for his Sherlock Holmes stories). He was born in one of the houses along this road so we’d like to think we have a bit of a claim to fame there! The night porter thinks he’s seen a few ghostly figures too – we just tell him to stay off the whisky! (Obviously I’m joking there!)
CW: What do you think gives Twelve Picardy Place the WOW factor?
ST: I think the building itself is most impressive. The size and space combined with the unique design of each room also adds a touch of class. Anyway, I think it’s up to you to form your own opinion so let me show you around.
We leave the lounge area and Simon gives me a guided tour.
The Guided Tour
The swirling staircase leading to the first floor on which the bar area is located is majestic. I feel like I should be wearing a ball gown – you’d get great skirt swoosh on this staircase!
We pop our heads into the bar area which is truly opulent. The huge vase of carefully arranged flowers is in itself a piece of contemporary art. And the glassware and arrangement of alcohol is suitably stylish. I’ll definitely be back soon to sample some cocktails on the extensive menu!
There are ten individually designed rooms within the hotel which are spread out across three floors of the impressive Georgian townhouse. Each of the rooms have been named after Scottish Lochs or Castles with a full wall size picture of the rooms namesake proudly adorning the room.
The hotel is obviously a popular choice as there is only one room unoccupied (The Loch Rannoch Room) that I can have a nosey around. The room inspection is a brief one as the cleaning team are busy preparing the room for the next check in later that morning and I don’t want to interrupt whilst they’re in full flow.
The rooms are beautifully designed. Understated modern colours mixed with traditional Scottish heritage gives the hotel real personality. Simon admits this isn’t his forte and gives full credit to the professional designer they worked with for creating such a relaxing and elegant ambience.
Each of the rooms are equipped with state of the art entertainment systems and luxurious linen. Whilst the bathrooms have more of a futuristic style than the rooms themselves they still summon that simplistic elegance and the freestanding baths further compliment the luxurious feel that runs throughout this boutique hotel.
Although the restaurant is not open when I visit (opens at 5pm) we pop downstairs (main access is off the street next door) to have a look around. The red, black and stripped back wood décor really creates a dramatic effect and encompasses what the restaurant is all about. Serious about Steak. Although a great additional service to Twelve’s hotel guests this restaurant stands strong in its own right with a non-hotel residents also coming to sample the culinary delights and vast selection of world class wines.
We head back up to the lounge area, passing a couple of guests checking out and I overhear them complimenting the receptionist on the enjoyable stay they’ve had. Thumbs up to Simon.
After my mini-tour of Twelve Picardy Place I have had the chance to form my own opinion; I think this hotel is a handsome establishment that promotes a strong feeling of personalised luxury.
Perfectly located just a ten minute walk from Waverly station, almost opposite the Playhouse Theatre and with an expansive array of shopping, bars and restaurants on your doorstep there’s not much more you could want from this Edinburgh City stay-over.
Couples wanting a taste of modern luxury Scotland.
Address: 12 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3JT
Telephone: +44 (0)131 556 1289