Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh sold to Abu Dhabi investor

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh-The Caledonian, image courtesy of This Is Edinburgh / CC BY 2.0(Image: This Is Edinburgh / CC BY 2.0)

Edinburgh's Waldorf Astoria-The Caledonian changed hands to Abu Dhabi-based investor Twenty14 Holdings, a Lulu Group International subsidiary, in a £85-million sale. The sale of what locals call "The Caley" is not only the biggest hotel sale in Scotland since 2015, but also the U.K. market's largest over the past year.

The sale follows a recent update of the 254-room property, which originally opened to guests in 1903. The Caledonian Railway Company built the hotel as part of the Edinburgh Princes Street Railway station, which has stopped running since its close in 1965. The Caley is known for lodging famous guests, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, comedians Laurel and Hardy, actors Carey Grant and Liz Taylor and King Hussein of Jordan.

The opening of The Caley followed up the Balmoral's, another railway hotel originally called the North British. Both hotels became publicly owned in 1948 after the nationalization of the UK's railroads. The hotels later became privately owned. The Caledonian Hotel reopened in 2012 as a Waldorf Astoria following a refurbishment and rebranding program—the first of the brand in the UK. Rocco Forte Hotels acquired the Balmoral in 1997 and later renovated the hotel in mid-December 2017 in a multi-million-pound overhaul. 

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Real estate advisers JLL and HVS Hodges Ward Elliott advised the previous owners on the transaction, which topped the £150-million sale of the Gleneagles Hotel in 2015.

“Edinburgh continues to be one of the best performing and most sought after European hotel markets by both domestic and overseas buyers. The sale of The Caley follows the recent sales during 2017 of The Scotsman and The Bonham as well a number of other hotels in the Scottish Capital," Kerr Young, director of JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group, told HotelOwner.