Floating hotel at Royal Yacht Britannia site gets go-ahead

A floating boutique hotel has been given the green light to operate by councillors but a 3am licence plea has been rejected after residents raised fears over noise.

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 9:16 am
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 9:23 am
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

The Royal Yacht Britannia will open former lighthouse vessel, the MV Fingal, as a 23-bedroom boutique hotel and ballroom at the Port of Leith.

The vessel will also include a restaurant and bars.

Members of the Edinburgh Licensing Board considered an application for a premises licence including the venue being open until 3am – but instead agreed to a midnight closure from Monday to Thursday and 1am from Friday to Sunday. The application had initially been put on hold for councillors to carry out a visit to the premises.

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An artist's impression of The Fingal's Presidential Suite.

Drinking on outside decking will be halted at 10pm every day.

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Convener of the licensing board, Cllr Norman Work, said: “I have also got concerns about these outside areas.

“It’s very close to houses. Had it been further away, I don’t think we would be having these discussions. I still have concerns about the proximity of these premises to the residents.”

But Cllr Cathy Fullerton spoke out in favour of the proposals and measures put in place to prevent noise from disturbing neighbours.

She said: “I was very impressed with the refurbishment, the ship and the management that will be put in place to alleviate any concerns with residents.”

Frances Ennis, representing the Royal Yacht Britannia, said the “high calibre” of those staying on board would result in no anti social behaviour.

She said: “From a purely selfish point of view, we don’t want to bother those who are staying on the Fingal with noise – as well as the local neighbours.

“Some of the neighbours have generic concerns about licensed premises in the area. There have been incidents at the past with another boat but this just simply isn’t going to be the case with The Fingal. It’s a high calibre of guests that we are expecting at The Fingal.

“The Fingal is not going to be the sort of operation that encourages guests to stagger out and cause noise. It’s not a venue where people can turn up and expect a table and expect a drink.”

But local residents hit out at the claims with Tony Walker labelling the suggestion there would be no disruption to neighbours as “ridiculous”.

He added: “It’s a quiet residential area and that’s the way we want to keep it.

“People create noise and we want to reduce the amount of noise that we are going to have.”

Cllr Chas Booth, ward member for Leith added that “even high end clients make a noise”.

Deliveries and collections of glass bottles will be restricted to 9am until 5pm. Campaigners called for a clause to be imposed that the boat can only be used by those staying on board over fears the premises could be sold on to another operator – but the applicant rejected the suggestion.

Ms Ennis added: “I can completely understand why residents are anxious. I’m not willing to sit here and tie my client’s hands to a business model that doesn’t suit them.

“If there’s an issue in five years, it’s for that operator to come forward with a licensing plan.”