Scotland’s capital continues to attract strong investment with new hotels and venues, increasing opportunities for conference and meeting bookers.
Edinburgh has a long-established reputation in the business events market as a leading destination for conferences, meetings and incentives. Second only to London in the UK for hosting international association meetings and a small city with half a million inhabitants, it’s a huge destination in terms of its MICE infrastructure.
In the Bedroom
With more than 14,000 hotel beds in the city, it is one of the UK’s hotel development hot spots with new hotels opening every year. In the last 12 months key additions have included the five-star Edinburgh Grand Hotel with 50 suites and a highly regarded restaurant Hawksmoor. Mode Aparthotel in the New Town opened in 2018 with 82 smart apartments while Ten Hill Place, part of the ever-growing Surgeons Quarter at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, completed an £8.5 million expansion to take its bedroom total from 77 to 129. Edinburgh Airport has also benefited from a significant increase in bed stock with the opening of the Hampton by Hilton and the Moxy Edinburgh Airport, containing 240 rooms and 230 rooms respectively.
In 2019 key developments to watch out for include the much-anticipated 98-bedroomed Market Street Hotel in an enviable location in the Old Town opposite Waverley Train Station. Meanwhile Malmaison will expand it’s offering in the Scottish capital with the launch of a city centre hotel with 72 beds in St Andrews Square. Yotel will also open its doors with a 280-cabin hotel in the New Town following a £185 million refurbishment of a building on Queen Street. Looking longer term, there is much excitement in the city on the future arrival of the W Hotel in the St James Quarter and the UK’s first Virgin Hotel both of which are tipped to open in 2021.
Amanda Ferguson, Head of Business Tourism at Convention Edinburgh, recently commented: “With an average year-round occupancy rate of 84%, it’s little wonder Edinburgh continues to attract significant hotel investment. Whether it’s apart-style hotels such as Mode, youthful brands like Yotel or five-star luxury, it’s great news for the conferencing and MICE market.”
On the venue front, there have already been several developments this year. Royal College of Physicians, a long-established conference venue completed a £3.5 million redevelopment of its facilities. It reopened in January this year under the new brand Physicians International Conference Centre, positioning itself as a world-class education hub.
Scotland’s first ‘boutique’ hotel, MV Fingal also opened in January as a luxury hotel and venue. This former lighthouse boat moored near its sister venue, the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith, boasts 23 luxury bedrooms and a ballroom. Another very welcome addition to the luxury end of the MICE market is Barnbougle Castle. Located seven miles west of the city centre, this 13th century castle has never been open to the public and is now available for exclusive events for 120. It sits in magnificent parkland of the Roseberry Estate with dramatic views of the Firth of Forth shoreline.
Amanda is delighted to see these new additions, saying: “The sustained development of the Edinburgh MICE infrastructure is an important factor in Edinburgh’s continued success in the business events market. It’s important for event planners to know the product is being maintained in such a busy city and for repeat groups, they want to see and experience new venues and hotels. Edinburgh is blessed with a rich history and breath-taking vistas. With the right infrastructure it’s a winning combination for memorable MICE events.”