The Bonham shares history with Edinburgh University!
What is now instantly recognisable as The Bonham Hotel, was originally designed by John Lessels in the late 19th Century, as city centre town houses.
The Drumsheugh Gardens triangle was built between 1874 and 1882. The three storey residences were quickly recognised as "des-res" with one house being sold for what would seem by today's standards, as a mere £6000.
Title Deeds for the property show that numbers 33-36 were sold to Messer's Wade and Wilkie who were responsible for their development in the 1920's. By 1939, the three houses were collectively known as 'The Private Clinic' combined and operating as a medical practice under one roof, until 1951.
Currently, one of The Bonham's most unique bedrooms, distinctive with its oak panelled walls and copper bath, is firmly believed to have once been the main consultancy room in the surgery.
In 1951 'The Private Clinic' was sold to the University of Edinburgh for £30,000 as part of a plan to develop its Halls of Residences. Originally starting life as Muir Hall in George Square, the halls accommodated 62 students which was later reduced to more intimate homely surroundings for around 46 students.
It originally only took female medical students, but in the late 1970s it became a mixed hall. At the same time it changed from full board to self catering.
Originally it accommodated over 90 students, with up to four students in some of the very large rooms. There was also an annexe at 1 Rothesay Place. Latterly it took closer to 60 students, as rooms had to be converted to bathrooms and rooms for 4 students were no longer acceptable.
Former residents recount tales of the evening hot water trolley that was left out in the lower hall ensuring students would never be short of a cup of tea or coffee whilst studying long into the night. The girls fondly remember the bathroom units housing rows of baths in individual cubicles-perfect for catching up on the day's gossip, or for water fights on a Friday evening - perfect for letting off steam after a hard week poring over the books….
The Hall has had it share of famous visitors, even before becoming Edinburgh's coolest hotel…and was a resting place for those attending the International TV Festival, with celebrities such as Anna Ford and Michael Heseltine's daughter, making use of the University's facilities.
In 1997, the premises were bought by The Town House Company who took infinite care in a complete and historically sympathetic renovation of the buildings. Part of the renovation process involved the installation of luxury private bathrooms in each of the 49 contemporary designed bedrooms.
In 1998 The Bonham opened to great critical acclaim, winning national awards of excellence. One magazine has dubbed it "One of the Coolest Hotels of the Twenty First Century". A remarkable achievement indeed, given those very walls continue to stand proudly into their second century.