But now bargain-basement overnight stays are widely available in August for under £50 a head as the industry looks to reboot after the Covid-19 lockdown in the city.
Chains have been forced to dramatically lower their prices to attract visitors back to the city after the four-month shutdown of its tourism industry and the official cancellation of its cultural extravaganza in the face of the pandemic.
The average price for a hotel room in August soared to more than £200 five years ago.
The month-long festivals period has helped Edinburgh achieve average year-round occupancy rates of upwards of 83 per cent in recent years, while 41 per cent of all overseas visits have been between July and September.
Various Travelodge hotels are available for under £30 a night on what would should have been the opening weekend of the International Festival, Tattoo and Fringe. Premier Inn has rooms available around the city on 8 August from as little as £37.50.
Three-star hotel deals include the Point in Tollcross, which has rooms from £85 and the Ibis, in the Old Town, which has availability from £87. Four-star stays include the new Yotel on Queen Street for £80 on 8 August, the Mercure at Haymarket from £94, and the Eden Locke, in the New Town, at £99.
Five-star stays include the Caledonian, in the west end, for £268, the Sheraton Grand on Lothian Road for £258, and the Radisson Blu on the Royal Mile for £215.
New figures predict the absence of the festivals could cost 7,000 jobs and have a £360 million hit on the economy. Councillors have been told the wider downturn may see 18,500 jobs lost over the course of 12 months.
However, even before the Covid-19 crisis struck there were fears that too many hotels had been built in the city. More than 2,000 new rooms have been created in the past five years, while a further 2,400 are under construction or are awaiting planning permission.
Russell Imrie, spokesman for the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said: “The hotel industry in Edinburgh is in crisis.
“The re-opening of hotels on 15 July will not be the immediate start of trading returning to normal levels.
“Demand for hotels in Edinburgh will remain heavily reduced as a result of customer confidence to travel being subdued, corporate meetings and events not being able to take place, international in-bound travel not possible and corporate organisations having learned to operate without extensive travels.
“The substantial increase in hotel provision over the past few years is only economically sustainable when demand increases to keep pace with the supply increase.
“Many hotels are in a very weak position and need to acquire revenue as soon as they reopen.
“The oversupply and reduced demand will result in hotels trying to attract a smaller number of customers and it is inevitable that a promotional price will be used to attract custom.”
Cliff Hague, chair of the Cockburn Association heritage watchdog, said: “I appreciate the great strain that the period of lockdown has imposed on hotels and those whose livelihoods depend on the industry.
“I also know that the major hotel chains will do all they can within their premises to ensure that guests can stay safely.
“However, social distancing, whether at one or at two metres, is accepted to be crucial to containing infections, and I am not aware of effective measures for crowd control and enforcement at scale being in place in the public realm if we get anything like the normal August crowds.
“I also think there is a problem with short-term holiday lets on common stairs. Long term residents would be at risk from a succession of transient visitors, without the kind of measures that the more responsible hotel sector will have in place.
“Weighing these risks I think it would be wrong to make a big push for tourists in August. Money earmarked by a cash-strapped council for tourism advertising could be better used in many other ways.”
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