Cafe Royal

Edinburgh & The Lothians - Edinburgh

A historic pub interior of national importance

Listed Status: A

19 West Register St.
Edinburgh
EH2 2AA

Tel: (0131) 556 1884

Email: caferoyal@belhavenpubs.net

Website http://www.caferoyaledinburgh.co.uk

Real Ale: Yes

Lunchtime Meals: Yes

Evening Meals: Yes

Nearby Station: Edinburgh Waverley

Station Distance: 209m

Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Edinburgh Waverley) and Bus Stop

Bus: Yes

View on: Whatpub

This famous Edinburgh pub has a truly stunning interior. The building, by architect Robert Paterson, dates from 1861 and opened as a showroom for gas and sanitary fittings, but by 1863 had became the Café Royal Hotel. From the 1890s major alterations took place and much of what we see dates from 1900–1. The main space has six wonderful tiled paintings made by Doultons, designed by John Eyre and painted by Katherine Sturgeon and W. J. W. Nunn: they show six famous inventors; Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, Robert Peel (calico printing), William Caxton, George Stephenson and James Watt (with Matthew Boulton). The counter was replaced in 1979 and a new tall gantry was installed in 2002. The fixed seating takes the form of a series of semi-circular areas against the outside walls. Beyond an ornate screen lies the up-market restaurant with more tiled murals plus eight stained-glass windows of British sportsmen, made by Ballantine & Gardiner of Edinburgh. It has a counter with small tiled panels and a mottled red marble counter: note also a revolving door from the 1920s.

This is one of Edinburgh's most famous pubs. Its stunning interior includes nine Doulton's tiled murals, seven are of famous inventors each at their moment of their discovery. Built in 1862 and a pub since 1901, the main Circle Bar has a white marble floor, panelled dado, foliate Rococo-style frieze and delightful compartmented ceiling. The original majestic octagonal island serving counter, which dated from 1901, was replaced in 1979 by an equally ornate one, and a new high gantry was installed in 2002. The original fine marble fireplace with a very elaborate overmantel is still there, as are leather seating areas. The six tiled murals by Doultons of Lambeth, London, and designed by John Eyre feature 'William Caxton, citizen of London who brought printing into England 1476' 'Benjamin Franklin, printer distinguished in science and politics', 'Robert Peel makes his first experiment in calico printing', 'Michael Faraday, discoverer of electro-magnetism', 'George Stephenson', and 'James Watt inventor of the condensing engine & his partner Matthew Bolton'. They were first displayed at the 1886 International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art held on The Meadows in the style of the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.

Other magnificent displays of tiled paintings can be found at Mountain Daisy, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear; General Havelock, Hastings, East Sussex; Central Bar, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland; Rose Villa Tavern, Hockley, Birmingham; St James Tavern, Soho, London W1; Dolphin, Hackney, London E8; and Golden Cross, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales.

Beyond a 1901 ornately carved walnut screen with a number of bevelled and engraved mirror panels by John Taylor & Son of Princes Street lies the Oyster Bar. Three of the tiled murals are in this upmarket restaurant along with eight superb large stained glass windows of British sportsmen by Ballantine & Gardiner. It still retains the original counter of red marble, and there are small tiled panels on the bar front and behind the bar. Other features of note are the grey and white diamond-shaped marble tiled floor, a rich scrolled frieze, an elaborate ceiling with gilt embellishments, a revolving door installed in the 1920s and fine original fittings in the gents' downstairs, approached by a marble staircase. The three tiled murals in the restaurant are of 'Louis J. M. Daguerre, scene-painter & Joseph Nicephore Niepce joint discoverers of photography', also two designed by Esther Lewis of a Liverpool paddle steamer and the Cunard liner Umbria, which was built in the Govan shipyard on the Clyde.

The Voodoo Rooms 0131 556 7060

The first floor part of the Café Royal has reopened after a year closure and now calls itself a Bar, Restaurant, Live Music Venue and Cabaret Club. The bar looks very different from the photo on the front of Scotland’s True Heritage Pubs as the ceiling is now painted black and picked out in gold; the floor is of standard wood panels; new tiles near the bar counter; the original bar has a new front and new top; and there are seating areas down the window side of the room. In the second bar all the partitions and the 1920s bar fittings have been retained; floor in American Bar has had the same treatment as the main bar; seating areas have been added to the restaurant section. The Ballroom can have an admission charge – it retains its wood block floor; the ceiling is now painted black and picked out in gold; and a sound booth has been added. Open from 12 noon to 12 midnight. No real ale.

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