Edinburgh and Glasgow are separated by a mere 43 miles of motorway, yet the two cities are light years apart in terms of style and culture. A resurgent Glasgow (or Glas-Vegas as it sometimes known) is happy to flaunt its new-found wealth, but a conservative Edinburgh (Glaswegians call it ‘Deadin-burgh’) still likes to keep its money hidden in the mattress. The same attitudes prevail when it comes to buying and selling high priced houses.

In Edinburgh, £1 million is top dollar for a house, with only a handful selling on the open market at this level each year: 31 in 2003, 25 in 2004, 61 in 2005, and 29 so far this year, according to Savills Research. At £2m or more, most sales take place behind closed doors, although Knight Frank admit to selling two houses in Edinburgh this year for more than £3m, amid conditions of the utmost secrecy.

Eyebrows were raised among Edinburgh’s property establishment when, earlier this month, Savills (0131?247 3700) launched one of the city’s best known properties, The Whitehouse at Barnton, on the open market with a guide price of ‘offers in the region of £3m’. Built on land originally owned by the Knights Templar, the early-17th-century castellated mansion has been renovated from turret to basement by its fast-moving owner, the flamboyant Andrew Murray, who now spends half the year in the United States.

No expense has been spared, either inside or out. The oak beams and spiral staircase leading to the first floor were built from timber taken from the Queen’s Mint in Linlithgow. Each of the grand reception rooms is more luxurious than the other, and upstairs the various wings and turrets, linked by a maze of staircases, provide an idiosynchratic mix of rooms from a sumptuous master suite to a charming second-floor study with its original curved turret window. For Edinburgh, this is heady stuff, even at £3m.

This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on August 17, 2006