24 March 2023

Richard Branson tells of Scottish roots as he opens Virgin Hotel in Edinburgh

24 March 2023

Sir Richard Branson spoke of his Scottish roots as he welcomed guests to his new Virgin Hotel in Edinburgh.

The billionaire entrepreneur officially opened the 222-room hotel on Friday, with it not only being the first hotel carrying his Virgin brand in the UK, but also in Europe.

Sir Richard, 72, spoke of his Scottish connections at the India Buildings in the Scottish capital’s Victoria Street, and said he felt the hotel could provide something “original and different”.

“I don’t sound like it but my roots are Scottish.

“First of all my grandmother was from Edinburgh, my wife is from Glasgow, and I think technically I’m about three quarters Scottish, so I have been coming up for many, many years,” he said.

He said that “Virgin normally goes where we feel there’s a need for us” and he felt that the company “could create something original and different” in the city.

“If you can come into a city and do something original and different, you’re likely to be able to make a business out of it,” he said.

To mark the official opening, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo piper Louise Marshall played a selection of Scottish songs.

James Bermingham, chief executive of Virgin Hotels, said Edinburgh was one of the most important destinations for international travel.

Mr Bermingham said: “For me, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce the brand to the UK and to Europe.”

“And what I would add to that as Richard is busy building the global brand that is Virgin, at Virgin Hotels we really want to be hyperlocal.

“We want every hotel that we do to reflect the history, the culture, and the people of the destination.”

Virgin Hotels opened its first property in Chicago in the United States, and across the Atlantic has also opened sites in Las Vegas and New Orleans.

In Scotland, as well as Edinburgh, the company is currently developing a site in Glasgow’s Clyde Street.

The Scottish Government, in its 2022/23 Programme for Government, said it was committed to introduce a law which gives local authorities the power to charge a tourist tax.

In Edinburgh, the city council had campaigned for Holyrood to push through a Bill which would allow it to charge a small fee, and the local authority has previously estimated it could bring in about £15 million a year.

Mr Bermingham said it was “not unusual” for there to be a tax of its kind, and that it was “typical of most major markets”.

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