Tigerlily Edinburgh's designer tells us about the glamorous venue's new look

They opened in 2006 and were last updated in 2015

Published 25th Oct 2022
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Edinburgh has upped its game in recent months, with the arrival of new hotels and restaurants, as well as a few more, like The Hoxton, in the pipeline.

That’s prompted some of the city’s stalwarts, including 16-year-old Tigerlily, to think about competing with the newcomers.

This 33 bedroom boutique hotel, bar and restaurant has just reopened after a major refit of its public areas, as well as the addition of a new ‘theatrical’ food menu and cocktail list, and some new tech additions to its suites.

“There’s been a lot of resurgent energy in Edinburgh with the opening of the St James Quarter and the likes of the Gleneagles Townhouse and Virgin Hotels,” says Innes Bolt, managing director of The Montpeliers Group, who also Lulu, Indigo Yard and Rabble Taphouse & Grill, among others. “Hospitality is an exciting sector with lots of growth potential. I think it’s important to reinvest sensibly in your offering, to stay fresh and to keep competing”.

They recruited Glasgow-based designer Jim Hamilton of Jim Hamilton Design Ltd, who has also been responsible for the venue’s original look and a 2015 revamp, to take control of the update. We asked him about the makeover.

How does the new look compare to the original?

In 2006 Tigerlily was an empty office space, split between a former Georgian townhouse and a large rear modern office extension. It was a fairly daunting plan to tackle, but the initial brief was fairly succinct: to create a wee bit of magic on George Street, a series of socially inclusive spaces that stand out from the crowd, whilst appealing to a wide audience.

Will it still be as glam as the old Tigerlily?

I think deep down everyone loves a bit of glamour in their life. As per the initial philosophy of being socially inclusive across the board, this approach will continue within the new scheme. They have a very loyal customer base, and as ever any new customers will always be warmly welcome.

Was the new look overdue?

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Part of Tigerlily’s continued success has been an active policy of upcycling, recycling, and buying quality iconic design pieces year on year. Investing wisely has meant that many items have become iconic modern antiques. Every time we have tweaked the venue, we have managed to retain and re-upholster the pieces that are now an intrinsic part of the interior.

Where did you source the furniture/soft furnishings?

As noted above, the furniture has been sourced far and wide over the period of Tigerlily’s lifetime. Also, in the past 30 years I have been fortunate to have travelled fairly extensively, and have been a dedicated slave to furniture and lighting exhibitions where I have sourced many interesting items. In among the existing collection we have pieces from the likes of Stellar Works, Tom Dixon, Moooi, Northern Lights, Foscarini, Designers Guild, Vescom, and many others. As ever, we have added some new bespoke joinery and metalwork pieces, manufactured by the highly skilled team at Francey Ltd who are the main contractors. Glass & Metal Ltd have provided all the feature glazing, and Central Upholstery have worked their magic once again.

What was your inspiration and colour palette?

Aside from bringing some shades of pink back into the Tigerlily fold, we have played with some soft and bold shades of green, mixed with a couple of stronger blues. Those contrast with a wide variety of textiles that weave a loose but complementary thread throughout the interior. We have certainly not been shy in terms of colour and textiles. We have also added original art pieces from ArtPistol.

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Is the new Tigerlily seperated into zones, and what’s your favourite spot in the newly refurbished venue?

In 2006, the creation of a slightly separate dining area was seen as a prerequisite of any large scale food and beverage offering. Fast forward to 2022 and, globally, there is a much more relaxed and casual approach to dining. In many instances there is no need for a dedicated dining area that predominantly only operates during traditional eating hours.

The original layout has remained pretty much intact to date with the exception of a few minor interventions. In the latest scheme though, we have completely reshaped the rear area, and removed the iconic silver hanging bead screens. It’s bold move, but we believe that the new raised area to the rear of Tigerlily will be massively popular with everyone, all day and on into the night.

Is Edinburgh very competitive at the moment, as far as hospitality is concerned?

Viewed through the eyes of a born and bred west coaster, I have always loved the diversity that Edinburgh offers, on so many different levels. With the post lockdown re-emergence of international travellers, and the ever growing student population in the city, there will always be a need for the capital’s hospitality sector to incrementally reinvent itself. What I do love though, is that Edinburgh has a healthy number of bars and restaurants that have stood the test of time and all the changes in trends. Tigerlily is thankfully one of those, along with some of Montpeliers’ other venues.

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Are you a regular?

I am a fairly regular visitor to Edinburgh, both for business and for pleasure. Tigerlily has always been close to my heart, and I always drop in when the time allows.

Tigerlily, 125 George Street, Edinburgh, www.tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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