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January 28, 2024

The ‘glorious playground’ meets the city in this Edinburgh restaurant

Gleneagles marks its centenary this year but its sister property, Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh, has plenty to celebrate with its restaurant, The Spence

By Stephanie Bridger-Linning

The world-renowned Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, a former host of the Ryder Cup and G8 Summit, celebrates its centenary this year. That makes it 98 years older than its Edinburgh sister property, the Gleneagles Townhouse, which first opened its doors in June 2022. Yet in just 18 months, the city outpost – part private members’ club, part hotel, part all-day drink and dining destination – has established itself in the Scottish capital. Spear’s books a table for dinner at its restaurant, The Spence.

Everything you need to know about The Spence

Location 

A former bank on St Andrew Square, one of Edinburgh’s smartest addresses. Ennismore Design Studio spent five years meticulously restoring the building to its former glory, incorporating 33 guest rooms (available to members and non-members), exclusive members-only space, a rooftop bar and The Spence. 

Interiors 

Double-height windows flood the large dining space with natural light / Image: Gleneagles

The restaurant is imbued with details that reflect its former life as the banking hall. The centre of the room is dominated by a cocktail bar inspired by an old-fashioned bank teller’s counter, while the busts and columns that frame the space have been restored. There are also double-height windows and a jaw-dropping central dome in the ceiling. 

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Despite the scale, interior designer Charlie North was able to create a sense of intimacy with cleverly placed banquettes, plush upholstery and corners for quiet conversation. Spear’s would wager there is no ‘bad seat’ in the house – a rarity in a restaurant of this size.

Food & Drink

The dome and busts that frame the space are among the incredible features that were meticulously restored / Image: Gleneagles

Under head chef Jonny Wright, The Spence serves dishes that showcase some of the incredible fresh produce Scotland has to offer. Starters include Glen & Co Smoked Salmon, Isle of Mull Scallop and Slow Cooked Leek – an unexpected highlight of the meal. For mains, diners are spoilt for choice between the Loch Etive Seatrout, Truffle Gnocchi and Spiced Pumpkin Feta & Filo Tart. The Spence is one of those places where even the bread is irresistibly moreish. 

The dessert trolley looked so enticing that it was impossible not to reach for the Banoffee Choux Bun (a must!) and a sampling of the ice cream, although everything looked divine. 

Service 

The great fear of dining in such a large restaurant is that one is left forgotten in a corner. Not so at The Spence, where the staff are swift, pleasant and attentive. The entire service seemed well-ordered with empty plates gathered in moments and glasses refreshed with barely a pause. 

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Worth Knowing 

Members receive a discount at The Spence. After your meal, head up to Lamplighters for a nightcap. 

The verdict on The Spence

There’s a reason well-heeled Edinburgh is talking about The Spence. It more than lives up to the hype.

gleneagles.com

The entrance of Gleneagles Townhouse retains stunning original features / Image: Gleneagles

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