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The official residence of the First Minister in Edinburgh is to be rented out on Airbnb, the Evening News can reveal. Six plush apartments within Bute House are to be offered on the controversial international accommodation website starting from a pricey £300 a night for a “unique experience in the heart of the New Town”.
The move, which has been revealed in leaked briefing papers to ministers, is aimed at cashing in on the history of the Charlotte Square mansion while helping to settle the bill for the major refurbishment work and the costs arising from the property being wrongly taxed for years.
A security sweep has determined that the First Minister’s quarters can be adequately protected from those on offer to guests, with a separate entrance to be used to the rear for paying guests.
Following minor internal building work which requires listed building consent, the rooms are expected to be offered online from April 1 next year.
“The First Minister is right behind this plan as a way of generating extra revenue from a property which, after all, belongs to the country,” a source said.
“What better way to demonstrate that Scotland is a welcoming country post-Brexit, if indeed we are out of the EU by next year, than by allowing visitors to stay in the First Minister’s house?
“All the appropriate risk assessments have been carried out, but as an extra precaution all guests will be vetted online by our security team.
“But it’s not as if they are going to bump into Nicola in the queue for the bathroom in the morning. The First Minister’s apartment will be completely sealed off – although she may choose to pop down and say hello to special guests.
“In any case, she is hardly ever there at the moment.”
It is understood Bute House hospitality staff have been working on ways to present the apartments, including naming the six suites after all the first ministers of Scotland.
The “Dewar” suite would be the most expensive while at the other end of the scale the “Wallace” may be reserved for short stays only.
The Robert Adam designed landmark, which was completed in 1805, is actually a four-storey house which contains the Cabinet Room, offices and conference facilities, and reception rooms. The second and third floors currently contain the private residence of the First Minister.
It would become one of the most sought-after properties on Airbnb, the property rental website which has come under fire in the Capital for turning parts of the Old Town into a giant guesthouse.
A spokeswoman for the firm said they looked forward to discussing the details with government officials.
Flora Lopi, who is head of acquisitions for the firm, said: “Without doubt, Bute House would be a real coup and there will be no shortage of guests for a property like that.
“Its location is perfect for exploring the Old and New Towns which are already well represented with regards to Airbnb properties.”
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