Tourism boom sends hotel costs in the Highlands soaring

Duisdale on the Isle of Skye
Duisdale on the Isle of Skye
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Scotland’s tourism boom has sent the price of hotel rooms soaring above the cost of a weekend at the Edinburgh Festival.

Numerous hotels across the north are quoting between £600 and £800 for a two-night stay, well above the going rate for an equivalent break in the Scottish capital.

Demand for rooms is said to be outstripping supply in hotspots like Inverness and Skye, with overseas tourists said to be attracted by the favourable exchange rate.

Numerous hotels across the Highlands and in both the Inner and Outer Hebrides are charging in excess of £200 a night for a room only or bed and breakfast this summer.

Among the most expensive breaks on offer in the Highlands on the first weekend in August are two nights at the four-star Bunchrew House Hotel, on the shores of the Beauly Firth, near Inverness, which currently costs £990. Loch Ness Lodge, at Drumnadrochit, is asking £750 for a two-night weekend break.

In Inverness, a two-night stay at the three-star Best Western Palace Hotel costs £638, while a two-night stay at the four-star Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel nearby is £608.

Among the highest prices being quoted for a one-night stay on that weekend are by the five-star Glencoe House, which is asking £489 for a room, and the four-star Boath House Hotel, in Nairn, which is selling rooms for £365.

On the Isle of Skye, Duisdale House Hotel, Kinloch Lodge and Toravaig House Hotel are charging £318, £380 and £298 respectively for a one-night stay on either 4 or 5 August.

The four-star Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran is charging £438 for a two-night weekend stay later in August, while Islay House on Islay is asking £550 for a room for the same weekend.

On the opening weekend of the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, the Balmoral and the Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, both still have rooms available at £780 and £667 respectively. However Apex, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Mercure, Jurys Inn and Ibis are still selling rooms for under £300 on either the Friday or Saturday nights.

Pete Irvine, who has been travelling the country to research the latest edition of his travel bible, Scotland The Best, said: “Prices definitely seem to have hit a new high. It’s all being driven by super-high demand to go to the north and west of Scotland and the availability of rooms.

“Previously, the season would last for six months in the Highlands and Islands, and a lot of hotels would close for several months.

“That season is certainly extending. It’s become much more viable to open a hotel in somewhere like Skye now.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, the main industry body, said: “The laws of supply and demand mean that prices in some hotels in the Highlands and Islands will be on a par with destinations like London and Edinburgh, especially during peak season. However, the true picture of what hotels are charging for overnight accommodation can only be seen by looking at these rates throughout the year. Prices do vary – hotel prices in Highland cities and rural hotspots are not typical of rates in other areas.

“It’s important to recognise that all tourism businesses are facing the ‘perfect storm’ of rising costs – the cost of utilities, economic and political uncertainty, the growth in business rates, the rising costs of food and drink, the associated costs of recruiting and retaining staff, especially within rural areas.”

Linda Johnston, managing director of Auchrannie Resort, said: “There are many factors to consider with regard to the pricing of accommodation, including the quality of the accommodation, facilities and overall guest experience. Sampling spot prices does not necessary give a fair comparison.

“Many guests are prepared to pay a premium to enjoy luxury accommodation whether that includes magnificent scenery and wildlife, or the facilities offered by a city.

“Rural properties are impacted more by seasonality, with prices in winter having to be very low to attract guests. Our resort loses money for five months in the winter. Costs are much higher in rural areas and especially in the islands.

“There is also a far smaller pool of potential employees and the well-documented shortage of affordable accommodation means these properties incur considerable expense for their staff.”

In numbers: Cost of a one night stay

1. Glencoe House, Glencoe £489

2. Kinloch Lodge Hotel, Skye £380

3. Duisdale House Hotel, Skye £318

4. Toravaig House Hotel, Skye £298

5. Invergarry Hotel, Invergarry £288

6. The Lovat, Loch Ness £273

7. Raasay House, Isle of Raasay £255

8. Summer Isles Hotel, Achiltibuie £250

9. Mercure, Inverness £247

10. Inver Lodge, Lochinver £199

Two-night stay

1. Loch Ness Lodge, Drumnadrochit £750

3 Boath House Hotel, Nairn £730

3. Bunchrew House Hotel, Inverness £693

4. Best Western, Inverness £638

5. Boat Hotel, Boat of Garden £628

6. Glenmoriston Townhouse £608

7. Waterside Hotel, Inverness £600

8. Glen Mhor Motel, Inverness £558

9. Holly Tree Hotel, Kentallen £515

10. Macdonald Morlich, Aviemore £438

One night stay

1. Balmoral £780

2. Principal Edin Charlotte Sq £667

3. Macdonald Holyrood £322

4. Ibis Royal Mile £280

5. Holiday Inn Express City Ctr £260

6. Haymarket Hub Hotel £233

7. Parliament House Hotel £230

8. Mercure Princes Street £259

9. Rutland Hotel £213

10. Jurys Inn £199

Two night stay

1. Apex Waterloo Place £702

2. Apex Grassmarket £692

3. Novotel City Centre £622

4. The Bonham £620

5. Leonardo Royal Hotel £619

6. Mercure, Haymaket £569

7. Malmaison, Leith £528

8. Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor £518

9. Holiday Inn, Murrayfield £504

10. Hotel Indigo, New Town £493