VISITORS to Glasgow face soaring accommodation costs during the Commonwealth Games, with a budget hotel room for the full event costing up to £6,000, The Scotsman can reveal.
With tens of thousands of overseas tourists expected to descend on the city next summer, some rooms are being advertised online for as much as £500 a night via booking agents. Rates at one hotel which ordinarily charges as little as £32 a night have gone up by 1,282 per cent for the Games.
The costs, condemned as “excessive”, have prompted Scotland’s national tourism body to call for a “common-sense” approach to pricing.
The high prices feature on travel booking websites such as Expedia, Travel Supermarket, and hotels.com, likely to be used by sports enthusiasts flying into Scotland from abroad.
Although organisers have been keen to promote the event as affordable and accessible, with two-thirds of all tickets costing £25 or less, the hotel rates advertised online may be seen as sending out a conflicting message to prospective visitors.
Those planning to stay at the Victorian House, a budget hotel in Renfrew Street which usually charges as little as £32 a night via its own site, are asked to pay £6,000 for a double room via Expedia for a stay spanning 23 July, the first day of the Games, to 4 August, the day after the closing ceremony. A 12-night stay at the Glasgow Central Budget Apartments in Sauchiehall Street costs £5,300 through hotels.com.
Even those considering a short stay face high bills using booking agents. On 28 July, the date of the eagerly anticipated 100-metres final, the Victorian House, via Expedia, is asking for £500 for a double room.
Graeme Hendry, leader of the SNP group at Glasgow City Council, said: “Hotels in Glasgow have previously indicated they were not looking to do what hotels did in London by putting up prices. It’s disappointing that travel sites may be trying to make excessive profits from the Games.”
A spokesman for VisitScotland stressed the tourism industry was determined to offer value for money for the Games.
He said: “We would call on hoteliers and accommodation booking providers to take a common-sense approach on pricing during Glasgow 2014.
“The tourism industry must unite to create a welcome like no other with … most importantly, value for money.”
A search for a standard double room at Jurys Inn in Jamaica Street booked through Expedia came back with a cost of £599 on the 100m final day, while 12 nights in a superior double room at the same hotel costs £6,686.
However, a spokeswoman for Jurys Inn said last night the hotel was in fact fully booked, and those rates were an “anomaly” which were advertised briefly while the rooms were removed from the booking system.
While some may baulk at the prices on offer, accommodation bargains are available online. A 12-night stay at the Bothwell Bridge Hotel on the outskirts of the city costs £660 through Expedia.
Philip Mellor, co-chair of the Greater Glasgow Hotels Association (GGHA), which represents the majority of hotels in the city, said that “hotel allocations and rates will settle down over the coming months”.
He pointed out that the rates on some third-party sites are default prices set whilst hotels agree availability with online booking providers so as to prevent a run on hotel rooms where there is limited availability.
Marc Crothall, CEO of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, urged tourists to book directly with hotels to get “fair” prices, adding he was unsure “how or why” third-party sites had set such rates.
Scott Taylor, chief executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said the city’s hotels offer “highly competitive rates, day in, day out,” and that visitors to Glasgow would “genuinely benefit from this strong standpoint”.
He said some 12,000 hotel rooms have been reserved for those directly involved in the Games, leaving 6,000 available, as well as rooms in other types of accommodation such as B&Bs, guesthouses and apartments, which will become available.
He added: “From discussions with GGHA, they expect their members’ room rates to come down. In addition, hotel room allocations held on behalf of tour and group operators have still to wash down and there will be greater availability of hotel rooms in the city from early 2014.”
A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said: “We are working with tourism and travel partners to ensure a range of affordable accommodation options are available for people coming to the Games.”
The Victorian House
Situated on Renfrew Street, it describes its individually furnished rooms as “quiet, cosy and friendly.” Facilities include flat-screen LCD TVs with Freeview in most rooms, a direct dial telephone, free WiFi internet access, and tea and coffee facilities.
Lowest price for a 12-night stay next month £623 (Expedia)
Lowest price for a 12-night stay during Games £6,000 (Expedia)
Part of the Jurys Inn chain, the hotel in Jamaica Street features The Grill, a recently refurbished bar and restaurant. Facilities include flatscreen TVs, a hair dryer, WiFi internet access and air conditioning.
Lowest price for a 12-night stay next month £900 (Travelsupermarket)
Lowest price for a 12 night stay during Games£6,686 (Travelsupermarket)
*Jurys Inn said last night the rates were an “anomaly,” and the hotel is now sold out for the Games.
Glasgow Central Budget Apartments
Based in Sauchiehall Street with accommodation on nearby Bath Street. Its website claims it offers “a far better solution than a hotel, offering so much more space at a fraction of the cost.” Facilities include a 24-hour reception.
Lowest price for a 12-night stay next month £980 (Hotels.com)
Lowest price for a 12-night stay during Games £5,300 (Hotels.com)