New name springs into Edinburgh as hotel changes hands

One of Edinburgh's largest city centre hotels has changed hands in a multi-million pound deal that will see a new name appear in the capital.
The Haymarket hotel was designed by Andrew Doolan. Picture: ContributedThe Haymarket hotel was designed by Andrew Doolan. Picture: Contributed
The Haymarket hotel was designed by Andrew Doolan. Picture: Contributed

The 282-room Morrison Street establishment, which has been run by Whitbread’s hotel arm Premier Inn, has been acquired by Leonardo Hotels, the European arm of Israeli Fattal Hotels Group.

The west end building, near Haymarket Station, was designed by the late Scottish architect Andrew Doolan, who, along with fellow majority shareholders Sandy Orr and Donald MacDonald, initiated the build of the hotel in partnership with Whitbread. Since then, it has hosted more than two million guests visiting the city.

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The name will be changing to The Leonardo Hotel Edinburgh and comes as Premier Inn launches several new sites across the Scottish capital. Leonardo’s other major European locations include London, Berlin, Budapest and Madrid.

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Orr said: “Donald and I with Pat Findlay on behalf of Andy’s family are pleased to see this large, beautifully designed hotel pass to Leonardo Hotels.

“Expertly operated by Whitbread for over 20 years, we look forward to seeing the hotel continue its significant contribution to Edinburgh’s hospitality sector.”

Kerr Young, director in the hotels and hospitality team at property consultancy JLL, who oversaw the sale of the site, said: “Edinburgh is a highly sought after location for investors keen to acquire hotel real estate in one of the best performing markets in Europe – this latest transaction demonstrates further evidence of that and we are delighted by the result.”

Financial details surrounding the deal were not disclosed. The hotel had been put up for sale in March of this year by Whitbread and the syndicate of private investors which jointly owned it. Recent sales of other hotels in the city, including the Radisson Blu and the Crowne Plaza on Royal Terrace, have highlighted the level of investment interest in the market.

Last year, hotels in Edinburgh saw occupancy rates reaching 81.5 per cent and average room rates of £88, significantly higher than the UK average.

Whitbread has exited the hotel as part of a strategy for developing, refurbishing and opening new sites including its “hub by Premier Inn” format and “re-focusing” its assets.

Earlier this year, the group outlined a £35 million investment prog­ramme in Edinburgh, creating three new hotels, upgrading two existing premises and bringing 150 jobs and ten apprenticeships to the city.

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The plans included the first hi-tech “hub by Premier Inn” both in Scotland and outside London, with 121 rooms and located off the Royal Mile, and an adjacent 127-room Premier Inn.

Further investment by the budget hotel operator in and around Edinburgh has included a £1.8m extension at Premier Inn Ne­wcraighall and a £1.2m refur­bishment at Edinburgh Central, and comes after the company opened in St Andrews in October last year.