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Tartan-clad Branson opens Virgin’s new hotel

Sir Richard Branson: thrilled

Sir Richard Branson, suitably dressed in a tartan jacket, was the principal visitor at the new Virgin Hotels Edinburgh to perform the official opening honours for the Old Town venue which began welcoming guests last June.

The final phase of the launch will see the opening of all dining outlets, including the hotel’s flagship restaurant.

The 222-room hotel is a conversion of the historic India Buildings in Victoria Street and cascades down to the Cowgate near Grassmarket. It is the first Virgin Hotels in Europe and will be followed by another venue in Glasgow this year.

Sir Richard said: “I am thrilled to mark the grand opening of Virgin Hotels Edinburgh – the first Virgin Hotels property to launch in Europe – in this most wonderful city. 

“This is an incredible hotel that truly embodies the spirit of both the Virgin brand and the quirks and traits of Edinburgh’s beautiful Old Town – a place where people can come together to have fun, relax and enjoy all that this wonderful city has to offer.

“From the beginning, we set out to create a hotel that would be unlike anything else in the city.”

Sir Richard, 72, spoke of his Scottish connections . “I don’t sound like it but my roots are Scottish,” he said. “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 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.

Virgin Hotels opened its first property in Chicago and has others in Las Vegas and New Orleans.

CEO, James Bermingham, said: “We are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with Virgin Hotels Edinburgh.

Commenting on proposals for a tourist tax, he said it was “not unusual” for such a tax, and that it was “typical of most major markets”.

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