Richard Branson opens Europe’s first Virgin Hotel in Edinburgh

“The city holds a very special place in my heart,” Branson said

The entrepreneur, billionaire and a space travel developer Richard Branson has made the first step to expanding his accommodation giant to Europe.

On Tuesday, Branson’s Virgin Hotels announced it will be opening a hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, that will be the first on the continent.

The company will build a huge accommodation complex inside the Old Town’s historic India Building, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

 

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The choice of Edinburgh was not accidental, as Branson’s family and wife are Scottish by origin. During the celebration, the business magnate expressed his feeling towards the city.

“My grandparents are from Edinburgh and Joan is also a Scot, so the city has always had a special place in my heart,” Branson wrote in his blog.

“Virgin Hotels takes its role as neighbours’ in this beautiful city very seriously, and we want this hotel to fit in with the fabric of the city and are working with the local community to make sure of this.”

The planned hotel has met with opposition. Many of Scotland’s most famous writers slammed the development in a letter to the Times, describing it as “asset-stripping”.

Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, Jackie Kay and John Byrne were among 19 signatories who criticised the plans for reportedly blocking 82 per cent of the natural light to the central library.

This was founded in 1890 by Andrew Carnegie. It is the heart of Edinburgh’s intellectual life and has the words “Let there be light” inscribed above the door.

The Scotsman reported that the depute council leader, Cammy Day, said the plans have been “developed very much with the local area in mind”.

Virgin Hotel plans to open the complex in 2020 and will offer customers 225 rooms and suites that will be aligned with the historic structure.

“India Buildings is absolutely stunning and has so much for us to work with,” Branson wrote in a blog post. “It is full of stories and legends, and I’m sure we can create many new ones.”

The history is not the only thing that attracts the businessman. As a founder of Virgin Records, Branson underlines the musical background of the location s well

“We love the musical heritage of Edinburgh (I even remember the Sex Pistols appearing at Virgin Records in the city in the late 70s) and we’ll be sure to bring more live music back to the capital in surprising ways,” Branson said.  

Europe is not the only location where Virgin Hotels has been expanding rapidly. While the first hotel opened in 2015 in Chicago, a second location will soon open in San Francisco. The company plans to open other hotels in  Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Silicon Valley, and Palm Springs.