Black Ivy Edinburgh


Black Ivy is a boutique hotel in Edinburgh. Their mission statement is “Local luxury for all”, the result is a winning combination of welcoming atmosphere and attention to detail.

The hotel is in Bruntsfield, with great views looking out west across the links. It’s owned by Caledonia Inns, a local company led by Billy Lowe and family. Interior design is by long term collaborator Chris Hines, who also designed Koko and loads of equally fabulous venues around the world. Branding is by Saved By Robots, a Glasgow based agency who make awesome work for the hospitality sector. If you’re in Edinburgh come round for a cocktail – it’s just off the Links, next door the bike shop.

Founding and promoting a venture of this calibre takes a lot of love and hard work, so when I was offered the chance to do their photos I immediately agreed. It’s always fun to do photography for a new business, and this hotel is an especially photogenic opportunity.

When I first saw the new bar areas I was amazed – the amount of thought, effort and attention that has gone into this interior is incredible. It’s spacious but intimate, elegant proportions and atmospheric lighting. There are quirky and eccentric details everywhere. Black marble bar tops. Fake trees, looking great in this context. Figurative murals painted directly onto the walls. A floor made from coins, which literally looks like a thousand bucks. Carefully curated photos in every room. Antique chandeliers from a Russian shipwreck. Table tennis tables that double as desks for a co-working space and meeting room. It all sounds somewhat unconventional, but everything combines cohesively and perfectly.

The hotel rooms upstairs continue this theme, every suite is unique. Colour scheme, textiles and decor are different in each one. Individually they vary from room to room, but the overall effect is entirely consistent.

Shooting an entire hotel was complicated.

Every aspect of this place looks great, but as a brand new business it was critical to avoid disrupting staff or annoying customers.  When a company takes pride in their great service it’s critical to respect that commitment. Luckily there was one morning between the interior being almost finished and the venue officially opening, when I managed to get some quick promotion photos. After opening day we worked early mornings to shoot before customers arrived; sometimes extremely early to shoot before staff arrived.

Taking photos of the rooms was more straightforward. We managed to capture a representative selection of rooms by coordinating between the reception and housekeeping teams. Catching the golden hour light across the links took a lot of persistence. Matching that light for the interiors wasn’t easy but worked out well.

Front of house staff were shot on a bleak sleety afternoon in December. Hopefully we managed to make this look like a warm summer evening. Thank you, patient bar staff of Black Ivy, for putting up with me for long enough to make this happen.

These images aim to portray continuity between spaces and emphasise the western light. As a very design-led hotel it was important to show the interiors naturally without much supplementary lighting. Photographs of staff, beverages and other details could then be shot with similar techniques to keep everything on brand. Overall I wanted the photos to look real rather than perfect. It was a complex process, and still a work in progress, but definitely one of the most interesting projects I’ve worked with for years.

Every business needs an individual solution to show them in their best light, and I’m always keen to work with new people. If you’re interested in working together please feel free to get in touch at or give me a call on +44 7927 936636.



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