Hotel History & Architectural Heritage
of The Atholl Palace Museum
For over 135 years the Atholl Palace Hotel has welcomed guests. The hotel’s unique and fascinating history began in the middle of the 19th Century when popularity of both Scotland as a holiday and health destination grew amongst Victorians.
Atholl Palace Hotel History
The talented Perthshire architect, Andrew Heiton Junior was commissioned in 1874 to design a spectacular Scotch Baronial Hydropathic establishment complete with luxurious accommodation, Turkish baths and treatment rooms for Victorian patients, their companions and relatives. Work began in August of that year and took 150 men, four years to build. Opening its doors in 1878, the Athole Hydropathic, as it was then known, offered the ‘water cure’. Temperance values meant the ‘whisky cure’ was yet available to guests.
In 1886, the building and the lands were sold to Perth entrepreneur, Mr. William MacDonald. From then until 1909, here-positioned the business as a ‘fashionable resort’, following the hotel model. Spa treatments were still available but so too were motor rallies, fancy dress balls and tennis. Scotland’s second oldest tennis tournament, the Tennis Championships of the Highlands was first held at the Atholl Palace Hotel in 1896.
In 1913, The Lunn brothers, and their company, The Public Schools Alpine Sports Club Ltd, purchased and modernised the hotel. Electric lighting, powered by generators arrives and the new interior design reflected the styles and glamour of a new century. The Lunns gave the hotel its new name, The Atholl Palace Hotel.
During World War I, Scarborough in Yorkshire was blitzed by a German cruiser leaving Queen Margaret’s School severely damaged. The school girls were evacuated to the hotel in 1915 for the duration of the war. The Atholl Palace Hotel continued to trade during the summer months offering war rates. Between 1940 and 1945 the Leys School, Cambridge evacuated to the Atholl Palace Hotel. Their school was requisitioned as a hospital for the war effort. Around 168 boys made Pitlochry their new home during the school term, with the school retaining the hotel caretaker.
After 98 years of trading, the Atholl Palace Hotel opened for business all year round and opened the Atholl Suite, a large wedding, conference and events venue. In 2001, the hotel was purchased by the Castle Collection and the most extensive refurbishment of the hotel began. Over the course of a decade, locked away rooms and buildings were uncovered and restored including the historic Victorian spa and Turkish baths in the lower ground floor and the art deco building ‘Highways’. New and old gardens were carefully cultivated to award winning standards. In 2005 the Atholl Palace Museum opened within the hotel. It was the largest of its kind in the UK, celebrating the rich history and architectural heritage of the hotel.