Fears that Edinburgh’s first floating hotel could become ‘party boat’

MV Fingal - which is to be converted into a floating hotel.'Artists impression of the Ballroom
MV Fingal - which is to be converted into a floating hotel.'Artists impression of the Ballroom
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A luxury floating hotel’s bid for a late alcohol licence has been put on hold after residents spoke out about fears over it becoming a “party boat”.

The Royal Yacht Britannia is getting set to open the MV Fingal as a boutique hotel in November. The five-star hotel will be docked at the Port of Leith.

Members of the Edinburgh Licensing Board considered an application for a premises licence including the venue being open until 3am. But councillors decided to put the case on hold while they carry out a visit to the docks and the ship.

READ MORE: Floating hotel bid in Leith gets £5m boost

At least 60 Leith residents have objected to the licensing proposals after planning permission was granted to transform the former Northern Lighthouse Board ship into a hotel when councillors voted narrowly in favour of approval last year.

Residents spoke out about their fears for the operation.

Tony Walker said: “We should not actually be here today. Planning permission should not have been granted for that site. The boat is in the wrong place. It should never have been suggested that it goes into that location.

“This is on our back-doorstep. We have 22 metres between our building and the ship – it’s right next door.”

He added: “There will be aggravation and complaints to the Fingal management. It will involve the 
environmental protection department and the police. There will be noise from people out on the deck drinking. We will hear it – it’s so close.

“At the moment, it’s an extremely quiet place to live so it will be a horrendous change. Alcohol and water do not go well together.”

Residents also hit out at a “loss of trust” with the Britannia management after locals were given assurances during the planning process that the Fingal would not cater for weddings. The venue can be hired for weddings, so long as all of the luxury cabins are booked.

Frances Ennis, representing the applicant, said the 
Fingal was being “tarred with the same brush” as other venues in Leith that have experienced antisocial behaviour.

She added: “I understand there are some issues with trust. It was a planning application, this is a licensing application – there was a shift.

“This is a small boutique hotel. There are 23 bedrooms. It’s going to be operated by Royal Britannia – it’s going to be a higher standard than the Royal Yacht Britannia.

“Some of the public objections mentioned a party boat. I can say with absolute certainty there will be none of this. All areas that are public are easily visible to staff. The noise will be background noise on deck.”

People can expect to pay around £300 a night for a room and up to £1,500 for a suite in the hotel which is hoping to welcome people aboard in November.

Ms Ennis added: “My client trades on its name and reputation. It’s not the sort of venue for drinking and public nuisance. This will be a very carefully managed experience for guests. The level of detail in this place is incredible. It’s going to be a pre-booking service only. We will not have people drinking a lot then staggering off.

“It’s not a booze cruise – it’s a discrete and exclusive operation.”