Private couple new owners of historic Peebles hotel

Castle Venlaw
Castle Venlaw

A WELL-KNOWN Peebles hotel has been sold more than a year after its parent company went into administration in the summer of 2010, writes Mark Entwistle.

Acting on behalf of the joint administrators of PAG Hotels Limited, the Edinburgh office of hotel and licensed property specialist, Colliers International, has sold the Castle Venlaw Hotel to an un-named private couple for what it says was close to the asking price of offers over £695,000.

The Scots baronial-style establishment has 12 letting bedrooms, along with bar, restaurant and an Adam-crafted meeting room, and is set in more than two acres of private grounds.

PAG Hotels Limited, which owned the Castle Venlaw along with the Auchen Castle Hotel, near Moffat, was placed in administration in June last year. The Auchen Castle Hotel was sold earlier in the year.

Alistair Letham, director with Colliers International, commented: “The Castle Venlaw Hotel has, in the past, been a well-established leisure destination proving popular with a cross-section of customers, including exclusive use for weddings.

“With the hotel’s proximity to Edinburgh it also attracted a good mix of commercial custom. Under new ownership the business will be redeveloped and reinstated into the leisure market place as a popular and quality venue and destination.”

The original house was built by Alexander Stevenson, Sheriff Deputy of Peeblesshire, on the site of the old Smithfield Castle in 1782 and enlarged in 1854. Possession of the house eventually passed to Mr Stevenson’s sisters who, in their turn, sold the house to Ludovic Grant in 1790 and it was bought by William Grant in 1793.

The house was purchased by Major Archibald Erskine in 1798 and, on his death, passed to James Elphinstone Erskine in 1862. Mr Erskine and his wife Margaret Constable extended the house to its present size, adding another storey and the large south wing and turret in 1892.

The house was then sold to retired tea planter Richard Davidson, whose widow sold the house to a Miss Walton in 1946.

Two years later it was bought by Alexander Cumming and his wife, Jean Brownlee, who intended to run it as an hotel immediately, but were unable to pay a tax known as the “development tax” which used to be levied on people turning private houses into a businesses.

However, Mr Cumming successfully fought to have this tax abolished and Venlaw Castle Hotel opened in 1949. In 1972, on the death of Mr Cumming, his son Alastair took over his father’s share of the business and operated the hotel with his mother and wife Janet Hamilton.

The next set of owners were John and Shirley Sloggie, who bought the hotel in November 1997, and it was they who renamed it as the Castle Venlaw Hotel.

The hotel officially reopened after a major refurbishment at the beginning of March 1999, and it was eight years later, in the September 2007, that it was acquired by PAG Hotels Ltd.