Graven designs Hostelling Scotland’s flagship hostel in Edinburgh

Over the course of the winter months, Hostelling Scotland has been re-thinking and re-designing their café bar, restaurant and meeting spaces at Edinburgh Central, their flagship hostel on Leith Walk. They worked closely with Graven to bring their ambitions to life.

The design helped to open up the ground floor & created a new bar and lounge area, aiming to make a much more colourful and comfortable space that takes a creative view of eating, drinking, relaxing and socialising in Edinburgh.

Many Scots, over a certain age, have warm memories of “youth hostelling”. What was then known as the SYHA had its triangular red logo patch sewn into many a rucksack. It seems quaint that before checking out in the mornings guests were allocated chores by the warden, as part of the cost of your stay. It was cheap. I distinctly remember parting with 15p for a night in Inverey, near Braemar. That was around 1975, and we collected the distinctly different stamps for each hostel in our membership cards like exotic passports. But that was before teenagers had gap years in Cambodia, and cars, and technical outerwear, de rigeur for a stroll up the West Highland Way!

Hostelling in Scotland is now not just for the impoverished young, just as a night in a hotel is not just for the middle aged and wealthy. It’s a choice, and Hostelling Scotland has hostels in incredible locations, selling more bed-nights than any other single hotel or hostel organisation. The thing about hostels is that they are congenial places to meet like-minded travellers, so the social life of Hostelling Scotland is a vital part of the experience. Graven’s design for the “public areas” in Edinburgh pushes together and overlaps the typical functions of bar, lounge, restaurant, café , lobby, shop and meeting or entertainment venue. The spaces are knitted together with a simple palette and a backdrop wall that serves the reception at one end and the restaurant at the other. Partly for reasons of sustainability, we retained as much as possible of the original walls and ceilings, but replaced the fittings like bar counters that had to work harder, and deliver more. There is new furniture and finishes of course, including some stylish moves that should help the young, and the young at heart feel quite at home.

Alongside this, the new design helps guests explore the city & get some local knowledge with the help of more mobile staff who happily share their local knowledge and tips as well as areas for groups of guests to gather and plan their day in front of a new large map feature.

Insight from Graven Director, Ross Hunter.