Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: Capital’s leading hotels charge more than £1,000 for a two-night stay

Leading hotels in Edinburgh city centre are charging more than £1,000 a room for a two-night stay during the city’s revived Hogmanay celebrations.

The Sheraton Grand, the Caledonian, the Balmoral, the Kimpton, the Edinburgh Grand and Sir Richard Branson’s new Virgin hotel are among those selling four-figure packages.

More than a dozen operators are charging the prices on the Booking.com website for a two-day stay over December 30 and 31, based on two people sharing a room.

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They have emerged weeks after it was revealed Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party, fireworks and open-air concert would all be returning for the first time in three years.

The famous 214-room hotel at the west end of Princes Street is operated under the Waldorf Astoria Brand and has been owned by Abu Dhabi-based Twenty14 Holdings since 2018.

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    The Pet Shop Boys, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Altered Images, Tide Lines, Elephant Sessions and Hamish Hawk have since been confirmed for three nights of events in Princes Street Gardens. The expanded line-up in the gardens has been announced despite the main street party on Hogmanay returning with a reduced capacity of 30,000 this year – around half its previous size.

    The Caledonian, part of the Waldorf Astoria chain, is charging £1,730 for a two-night stay for two people in a premier king room arriving on December 30, while a classic king room at the nearby Sheraton Grand costs £1,144.

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    The Balmoral is selling packages including a Hogmanay party on its website, with prices starting at £3,616 based on two people sharing for two nights. The Edinburgh Grand is asking for £1,386 to stay in one of its apartments. A two-night stay in a deluxe suite at Hanover 71 Suites costs £1,545.

    Other city centre hotels charging four-figure sums to stay over the same two days include the Glasshouse, next to the Edinburgh Playhouse, the Kimpton on Charlotte Square, the Holiday Inn Express on the Cowgate, the Radisson Blu on the Royal Mile and Hotel du Vin on Bristo Place.

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    The Balmoral strikes midnight as fireworks light up the sky in Edinburgh during the Hogmanay celebrations in 2019/20. Picture: Andrew Milligan

    Other apartment operators looking for more than £1,000 include Eden Locke on George Street, Native and Sonder on Queen Street.

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    Neil Ellis, chair of the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said prices being charged for the Hogmanay period reflect “supply and demand”, but insisted the average cost of a two-night stay was between £600 and £700.

    He added: “There are prices and products available to suit all budgets. Many visitors have already secured accommodation at lower rates whilst other visitors from overseas have more money to spend on more luxury experiences.

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    “Hoteliers, like many other tourism-related businesses, are still recovering from the last two-and-a-half years, with the costs of doing business, staffing, energy, food and finance having all increased considerably.”

    One of the top picks for Booking.com users is this 9.3 rated hotel. The Edinburgh Grand features apartment accommodation with an on-site restaurant, bar and coffee house and has some breathtaking scenic views.
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    Edinburgh’s tourism industry was dealt a huge blow in December last year when the Scottish Government imposed new Covid restrictions on large-scale events in the face of the new Omicron variant. The 2020 event had been wiped out nearly six months in advance due to the impact of the pandemic.

    The city council signalled the return of the Hogmanay festival in June when it awarded a new contract for up to five years to a consortium formed by producers Unique Events and Assembly. They have been brought in to organise the city’s Christmas festival, which begins at the end of this month.

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    Mr Ellis said: “We are delighted the winter festivals have been salvaged this year. Bookings picked up after the announcement that they were happening, although they are still behind 2019 levels. Hogmanay may not reach prior occupancy levels due to the reduced capacity of some of the events, but we know the city will put on a great show and hopefully encourage many more visitors from around the world to come to Edinburgh.

    “Demand is coming in slowly compared with 2019. The market was sitting at around 76 per cent occupancy on the books at this time of year, compared with 63 per cent occupancy at the moment, which is much further back from the last benchmark.”

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    Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “A lot of this comes down to supply and demand. If hotels are going to charge that sort of money, they are going to have to deliver on the expectation of the quality of the experience. People will pay going to these places knowing they have a very good reputation – they’re looking for something really special.

    "But hotels and other businesses are having to lift their prices to combat not just increased energy bills, but also because many of them are having to cap capacity and occupancy levels because they don’t have enough staff.”

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    Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “Within the city centre, we have a superb offering of hotels covering the needs of all visitors. As well as the long established hotels such as the Balmoral, the Waldorf Astoria, the Intercontinental George and the Kimpton, we have new world-class offerings in the Edinburgh Grand and the Gleneagles Townhouse.

    “They complement the many other hotels supporting different price points, as well as budget and backpackers hostels. Visitors want options and choice to suit their budget and needs, and we cater for that.

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    "It is to be expected that price reflects demand. However, the city has the capacity to deliver fantastic value for money whatever the unique needs of each visitor is.

    "Hogmanay is a crucial time for the city centre economy. We look forward to welcoming domestic and international visitors to our wonderful city to enjoy this amazing time of year.”

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    The full programme for the three-day Hogmanay festival, which was first staged in 1993-94, will be announced later this month.