Salutation Hotel Perth From 1699
A history of the oldest established Hotel in Scotland
There are two competing theories as to where the name Salutation derives from… The first is said to refer to the date of Greyfriars, that name was a celebration of the birth of the infant Jesus, in the village of Bethlehem by “Wise men of the East who came to worship”.
The second view is that the name comes from the meeting of John Burt (the proprietor) and the shaking hands between himself and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The Early Days
In the early 1600’s the Salutation Hotel was a private house, owned by the Murray family, (Also known as Lord Scone and Viscount Stormont). From 1699, when we know the building served as a coaching inn until 1745, the history of the Salutation is vague. It has been thought that it may have been managed by the Franciscan Order, otherwise known as the Greyfriars, It is least likely that it was within their grounds. The Salutation formerly known as Salutation Inn has become the oldest established hotel in Scotland as well as one of Perth’s unofficial landmarks.
Bonnie Prince Charlie
In 1745 , Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) landed on the coast of Western Western Scotland. He soon had a strong following in his quest. On his march to invade England, he stopped at many towns and cities, raising funds for the cause, it is alleged he demanded £500 from Perth. It is said he did not sleep during his visit, but held meetings with his commanders. It is also said that Room 20 on the first floor was used to make plans for his rebellion. This was also to be noted at the trial of Colonel Bower of Forfarshire. Room 20 is now known as “The Stuart Room “ and can be hired as a meeting room today.
The hotel remained an important stopping off point, for those using the main coach route for Glasgow and Edinburgh to Inverness and Aberdeen. At the front of the hotel, the large wooden door (now the modern day, goods/trades entrance) would have been the entrance for coach and horse. The façade of the main entrance was actually constructed in the 1800’s. The large Victorian style window and pillars were designed by Robert Reid, the then King’s architect for Scotland. Underneath “Reid’s Bar”are the remains of what used to be ovens or kilns. Up on the third floor by Room 327 there is an original wooden beam dating from circa 1840’s. In 1824 the Salutation Inn held the first dinner of the Royal Perth Golfing Society. The history of the “Sally” as it is affectionately known locally is scant between 1840 and the 1900’s, The ballroom, known nowadays as the “Moncrieffe Suite”, was formerly known as the Salutation Assembly rooms between the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Competing favourably with the Theatre Royal that used to stand on Atholl Street. It is recorded that one concert given by the English Chapel Choir (accompanied by the band of the Durham Light Infantry) left the Theatre Royal “deserted”. The ballroom was well known locally for its dancing.
The hotel continued to be a busy hotel both for accommodation and ballroom dance venue. In the 1960’s David Bowie appeared on his first UK solo tour in the Moncrieffe Suite.
The hotel also changed ownership many times during the second half of the 20th Century now defunct Allied Hotels owned the Salutation and actually based their head office in the hotel to run their chain. Another famous hotel chain Embassy Hotels purchased the Salutation and also Jarvis hotels were another owner. The Adam Restaurant on the first floor is the main dining room became a regular venue for local clubs, organisations for private dinners as well as a traditional “High Tea” venue.
During the disco era of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the hotel ballroom became the “Blue Web” and was the place to be in Perth on a Saturday night. The hotel has decades of history catering for local societies including the one of the largest Burns Clubs in Scotland, The Perth Burns Club and also the Black Watch and the Perth and District Accordion and Fiddle Club.
In 1991 Strathmore Hotels a young Scottish company, founded by Managing Director Ronnie Rickard and Operations Director Lawrence Cormack purchased the Salutation from the Jarvis group. With their combined years of experience in the hotel industry, they have invested in and restored the Sally into one of Perth’s leading hotels. In 1997 the number of guest rooms was increased to 84, by transforming old office space and this marked the start of two decades of ongoing refurbishments.
In 2001 the passenger lift was installed, in 2006 the Moncrieffe Suite underwent a total transformation, a six figure sum was spent in creating a state of the art conference room, dinner dance and wedding venue. By far the largest project to date saw the exterior of the hotel completely re-painted and refurbished and this was completed early 2016. A huge project but the result was stunning and brought the proud exterior of the hotel back to its former glory – including the magnificent guards (pictured above) that were removed and painstakingly but lovingly restored.
The many pictures on the walls of “Old Perth” are well worth viewing. The venue is ever popular with locals for dinners and the “Sally” is known and well attended for its Festive Party Nights, weddings and events.