Scottish streets are lined with iconic, historic buildings which have held their presence for many decades, even as their surroundings became have shapeshifted and modernised to an almost unrecognisable state. Yep, heritage stalks every corner of the country in one form or another., and while it’s the majestic countryside which often gets the most attention, Scotland’s cities also contain a wealth of antiquity and intrigue. So, with the help of Cairn Collection, owners of hotels in Edinburgh, here are 5 IDEAL buildings to visit on a history’s buff’s trip to Scotland.


Originally used as a place of worship, the category-A listed building is a famous Glasgow landmark. Built in the 18th century as a church, St. Andrews in the Square has been inhabited since as early 1754, and remained a church until 1990. It was then sold to the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust in 1993 due to hefty maintenance costs, for the princely price of £1. Bargain!

In order to preserve the building for years to come, a refresh was essential, but maintaining its classic features was a priority. The building reopened as a centre for Scottish culture in 2000 to mark St. Andrew’s Day, and as a leading performance venue, it currently boasts a range of facilities including a café, toilets and dressing rooms. As such, it can now cater to upwards of 250 guests, who can enjoy the antique architectural features of the building at weddings, award dinners and parties.


Designed in 1822 by William H. Playfair, this building now hosts a plush hotel walking distance from Edinburgh Waverley station. Playfair was a prolific designer, with other immense sites in the capital including the National Monument and National Gallery. 

The original intention for the building was to be one of many in a string of stunning private townhouses which line Windsor Street. The street was designed in accordance with Playfair’s 19th century Eastern New Town Scheme, and the Cairn Hotel Edinburgh is among a few of the stunning domestic commissions done by Scottish architects during this project.

An array of exquisite period features decorates the hotel building, with a wrought iron balcony embellished in a trellis pattern and Greek key border, and distinctive railings being just some of the features in Playfair’s portfolio of townhouses. Playfair brought exquisite Grecian elements to buildings in the streets of Edinburgh, and his efforts earned the capital the status of ‘Athens in the North’. 


Long-standing Edinburgh residents may recall a time before the Timberyard was used as a restaurant; indeed, once upon a time it was a Lawson’s Timber site. Even further back, the first known purpose of the building was as a props and costume store in the 19th century.

Known as ‘The Shed’, a rustic interior of chopped logs seems to pay homage to the site’s timber history. The cosy wood burner is the main attraction for many, and up to 10 guests can enjoy the warmth. As for the food, this one is certainly as intricate and unique as the building’s history, with fresh, foraged ingredients on offer. The Timberyard also grows its own herbs and ingredients, as well as filtering and bottling its own water. 


Its name translates into Gaelic as ‘big song’, which suits the building at the top of Byres Road in Glasgow, as it is extremely difficult to ignore. Vibrant windows and a church spire adorned in a neon hoop make the bar and events venue a unique setting to enjoy a whisky (or two) in. 

Its historic purpose was as a local place of worship, built in 1862, it soon become a place for residents to congregate. The church features 11 carved heads which pinpoint the arches of the main hall, now the auditorium of the Òran Mór. The heads all symbolise individuals who were celebrated in the history of the church. 

Nowadays, the heads overlook revellers enjoying an evening on the town, with the building hosting club nights and weddings, as well as food and drink connoisseurs’ in the whisky bar and restaurant. In fact, there are over 280 variations of malts to sample here, making it a hugely popular haunt for a tipple. 

Top image: © Colin / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link


Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.