Gladstone’s Land




INTERIORS: Interior Design


Drinkall Dean
National Trust for Scotland


National Trust for Scotland


Gladstone’s Land is a historic tenement building and merchant’s house situated on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, with over 500 years of commercial and residential occupancy. Drinkall Dean were commissioned to transform an under-performing National Trust for Scotland venue into a multi-use visitor attraction, including a luxury ice cream and coffee parlour at street level, and redevelop the upper floor apartments into luxury accommodation.

The overall objective of the project was to maximise the potential of a significant and historical site that has four million visitors pass its doors each year. Drinkall Dean worked collaboratively with the National Trust for Scotland, including historical researchers, food historians, and curators, to ensure that all visitors, whether to the ice cream parlour, self-catering accommodation or the visitor experience, experience the rich history of one of the oldest buildings on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, A UNESCO World Heritage site. We also had to implement measures to future proof the property for future generations, and to continue to tell the stories of Gladstone’s Land and add future layers of history.

Interpretation is everywhere; this is what makes Gladstone's Land special. The wall linings downstairs have been treated with traditional signwriting promoting rooms for rent, recipes, and advertisements. The concrete tables carry inscribed 17th century shopping lists, the stone floor has carved dates and there are incidental historic coins, initials and dates peppered throughout the surfaces each with a story to tell. Upstairs, bespoke wallpapers and hand-carved furniture reveal the secrets and stories of Gladstone's land, in 4 luxury apartments each inspired by former occupants.  

The café servery has a Caithness stone floor and bespoke counters of concrete and reclaimed oak. The rear wall displays a large image of a painted ceiling detail from the upper rooms, layered with projected headline stories from the past 500 years. This is visible from the Royal Mile and tempts people to take a second glance at the headlines, drawing them into the space. The rear rooms offer a relaxed environment with more seating, and interpretation centres on previous occupants of the building, including a model of Lady Elizabeth, the inspiration for the ice cream parlour, who sits amongst the visitors.

The architectural space is lined with 2-metre-high natural plaster walls, above which the existing stonework is exposed and illuminated, expressing the new wall linings as layers over the historic stone. 



Rob McDougall