Big screen thrills as hotel opens its own in-house cinema

After successful screenings in church halls, community centres, an old swimming pool and even a travelling converted articulated lorry, Capital hotels are hoping to reel in audiences with their own cinemas.
Scotsman Hotel cinemaScotsman Hotel cinema
Scotsman Hotel cinema

A leading independent cinema consultant says that the next big opportunity is for hotels to combine their hospitality skills with highly-simplified digital film technology and install mini- cinemas for guests and the public alike.

Ron Inglis was speaking as The Scotsman Picturehouse, located in the five-star Scotsman Hotel in North Bridge, throws open its doors offering a bespoke, opulent cinema, becoming the first hotel in Scotland to showcase the latest movie releases.

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The 48-seater cinema, in the building that once housed Evening News and our sister titles, was the brainchild of Glasgow entrepreneur Stefan King, the hotel’s owner and a renowned movie buff whose properties include the Perth Playhouse and the Grosvenor cinema in Glasgow.

The Scotsman Picturehouse will host a Blade Runner night in November in honour and is also due to host a Ghostbusters Night to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary.

Inglis said: “The coming together of cinema and various forms of hospitality has been growing. What The Scotsman Picturehouse is doing is a bold experiment and I’m very glad they’re doing it. They are the first hotel in

Scotland to show new releases and investing in the standard of equipment required.

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“The cost of equipment has come down and it is now much easier to control. A manager lying on a beach in the south of France could control the digital aspect of the cinema from an iPad.

“It is a great fit to combine hospitality with movies. Hotels cannot rely on residents to pack their cinemas, so this is a new market for them.

“It’s very obvious to me that this is a great business opportunity for hotels outwith the Central Belt and major cities with their numerous multiplexes.

“Can you imagine the demand the Scotsman’s cinema and any other hotel would have for the new Downton Abbey movie?”

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The Scotsman Picturehouse, for the over-18s, offers a range of cinema packages that start off in the hotel’s Grand Café. These range from a “midweek treat” on Mondays to Thursdays, including a drink, popcorn and a movie, to afternoon tea and a matinee on Saturdays and Sundays, “brunch and a blockbuster”, also at weekends, and dinner and a movie on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Entrance is through the hotel, but signage and a listings board at the city’s busy Fleshmarket Close, which sees a constant stream of visitors and commuters to Waverley station, is creating demand for tickets.

Barry Makin, the hotel’s general manager, explained the ethos behind the new venture.

Hoteliers are always trying to have a little point of difference,” he said. “The ‘holy grail’ is exceeding expectations for guests. This does not necessarily mean spending a fortune, but it does mean how you deliver something different to the customer.

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“Cinema is pure escapism. When I was young it was a special thing to go to the cinema. I remember paying through an old hatch and they’d slip the ticket under it to you. Then it was off to the concession stall and the fold down seats.

“That anticipation from the old days but in a ‘grown-up’ cinema is the feeling we are creating.”