A Scottish entrepreneur behind a concept combining high-end student accommodation with hotel rooms and meeting facilities has his home country in his sights as he looks to bring the model to the likes of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Charlie MacGregor, who is originally from the Scottish capital, set up The Student Hotel, which has five properties in the Netherlands including flagship premises in Amsterdam that opened just last month, and operations in Paris and Barcelona.
MacGregor told Scotland on Sunday that overall the group aims to have 30 to 40 hotels operational by 2021, and is “super happy” with its progress.
It combines luxury, long-stay student accommodation with short-stay facilities for travellers, with timing of demand from the two markets tending not to overlap, explained MacGregor, whose family started building student accommodation for the University of Edinburgh in 1982.
He flagged the Scottish capital as a particular hotspot for high-spec living-space for overseas students, who are often looking to rent on a shorter-term basis than a full-year lease, and he also said Glasgow “would be a great city” to target as it is a fashionable place to stay.
Speaking from Amsterdam, MacGregor said that he visits Scotland frequently, saying “my heart is there”. He said the firm only considers sites offering at least 350 rooms, so any such move would be considerable, and each would offer direct and indirect employment altogether of about 40 to 50 staff.
The student population in Scotland has been proving attractive to investors, with Empiric Student Property increasing its presence through deals including one for £9.6 million last year to buy a development in Glasgow.
Surveys of the Scottish hotel sector have shown Edinburgh in particular to be in robust health. One study found that last August the city’s performance was “extraordinary” with the highest room-revenue figure of anywhere in the UK, excluding only luxury international hotels in London.