Leonardo Hotels planning to make room for further sites in Scotland

Leonardo Hotels is looking to expand its portfolio in Scotland as it rebrands sites formerly under Jurys Inns signage – and presses ahead with adding more than 200 rooms in Edinburgh and renovating a major site in Glasgow.

Jason Carruthers, MD at Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland, explains that the group currently has 11 properties north of the Border – comprising one each in Inverness and Perth, two in Glasgow, three in Aberdeen (which remained open throughout the pandemic to serve key workers) and four in Edinburgh including premises on Morrison Street.

It is extending the now fully renovated Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh, previously known as a Jurys Inn, on Jeffrey Street, by 100 rooms, taking it to 286, and is planning to open a 125-room property next door under its Nyx Hotel brand. Such work is all expected to complete in the summer of 2024, and marks “a statement of how confident we are in Edinburgh as a market” according to Mr Carruthers, who added that it has one of the highest occupancies of any city where the firm has hotels.

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Scotland, where the Leonardo workforce amounts to 652 (up from 500 in June 2020), has recovered extremely quickly for the group post-pandemic. “We saw very, very high levels of reservations in our Scottish hotels as soon as we were able to open again. I suppose that's a combination of the fact that Scotland's a very, very important market for us and very, very attractive to tourists for leisure, but also as a business market... From April this year, we've been significantly ahead of where we would have been in 2019 each month, particularly strong in the summer and in Edinburgh.”

The Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh, located in the shadow of Waverley Station and undergoing major expansion. Picture: Andrew Godfrey Photography.
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The business – whose parent company is global hotel giant Fattal Group – has also been expanding south of the Border, last month announcing the acquisition of the historic Dilly Hotel in London, which is now set for a £90 million revamp. To date, Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland has seen more than 1,450 rooms added through new developments and acquisitions, and 2,530 refurbished.

Mr Carruthers also explains how the company decided at the beginning of 2022 that it would convert the rest of its Jurys Inn properties to Leonardo, which has a less “standardised” offering and boasts more than 150 hotels in 83 cities across 13 countries. One such property is the Jurys Inn in Glasgow that is being renovated “from top to bottom”, with work set to carry on through most of next year because of its size – it’s one of the firm’s largest hotels, and will become a Leonardo Royal property, the MD also explained.

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As for potential expansion plans, Mr Carruthers said the business would “100 per cent” be interested in more hotels in Scotland, and he noted that it doesn’t have a presence in Dundee at the moment. “We're actively looking at opportunities. One of the other areas that we're considering is serviced apartments, and we see certain cities in Scotland that will be able to accommodate those kinds of developments as well.” He also pointed out the “aspiration” for the firm since late 2018 to grow its number of bedrooms by 10 per cent a year. “We’ve achieved that, and that would be that would still be the strategy moving forward.”

Also on the firm's books is the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket, formerly a Premier Inn. Picture: contributed.

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