Virgin Secure Their First Hotel Site Outside of USA, in Edinburgh

Date: January 2018

Location: India Buildings, Victoria Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

Name: Virgin Edinburgh? Due to open 2020 – Four star?

Virgin Chicago

No. of Keys: 225

Seller: Jansons, a JV owned by Andy Jansons and the William Pears Group, the owner of Telereal Trillium who combined, manage an income producing estate with an asset value of
approximately £7bn and own 4 acres of freehold properties in London’s Notting Hill.

Jansons were developers/owners of several hotels dating back to 2008, such as 307 room Travelodge Heathrow (sold on completion for £32m) and other Travelodge and Ibis hotels in Chichester, Edinburgh and Southwark London.

Buyer: Virgin opened its first hotel in Chicago in 2015, based in a historic downtown office building and eight more are under construction in the US. Sir Richard said: “Edinburgh is such an iconic city and we’re thrilled to be able to say it will be the home of the first Virgin Hotel in the UK and across Europe.

There was controversy when plans for a hotel at A-listed India Buildings, descending right down to the Cowgate, were first unveiled in 2014 after developers Jansons bought the property.

Objectors claimed a new-build element of the project on a gap site in the Cowgate will block light from the neighbouring Central Library. Community councillor Simon Byrom spent a week living in a tree on the site in protest at the plans. 
Virgin says it wants to involve the community in the project and showcase local music and entertainment.

The sale was handled by Savills.

Virgin Hotels chief executive Raul Leal said Edinburgh had been a natural choice for their first hotel in Europe.

“It’s very fitting that our first hotel in Europe is a historic landmark building like Chicago. “The location is fabulous and we love the fact we had to work round the building.” He said when they first looked at the building, they walked through it asking: “Can we fit our proposition in here without disrupting the building?” He said: “It has charming little spaces, especially the beverage areas.

There will be plenty of surprises and delights – little coves and places for privacy, where people can have meetings or dine. “From a physical perspective there won’t be too many changes inside the building except for restoring what is there and then overlaying a modern, but warm and sophisticated design.”

Rooms in the hotel –described as “chambers”– are divided into a dressing room and a sleeping lounge, separated by sliding doors, in a bid to allow guests maximum privacy.

Mr Leal said: “Instead of walking into a traditional room with a small corridor, a little bathroom to the right and a closet to the left, it will feel like you’re walking into a dressing room area where you’re able to unpack, plug in your technology, then you go into the second half of the room which includes the lounge bed.

THPT Comment: We understand that this will be the first of several across Europe and will have the Branson panache, which combined with the Virgin brand, will no doubt be a winner. Congratulations for getting through the planning hurdles!

First Seen: The Scotsman