Set to open in 2020, the group's first European outpost will be located in the city's landmark India Buildings in the Old Town and will feature 225 rooms and suites, meeting rooms, dining and drinking outlets and the brand's flagship lounge and dining space, the Commons Club ― or what Virgin describes in its characteristic cheeky way, “a Shag room.”
In a release, Branson offers a slew of personal reasons for choosing Edinburgh as the group's first European location, citing his own personal connection with the city ― his grandparents were from Edinburgh, and his wife is Scottish.
The Scottish city, famous for its Fringe Festival, JK Rowling and Edinburgh Castle, is also the UK's top destination after London, and attracts more than 4.1 million visits a year.
In recent weeks, locals and city officials have expressed growing concern about over-tourism and the negative impacts overcrowding has had on local lifestyles.
A report prepared by the city's Culture and Communities Committee details some of the negative impacts of rising tourism on local “normal life,” including the proliferation of souvenir shops at the expense of retail offers for local residents, excess noise and over-crowding.
The Edinburgh tourism action plan report aims to increase the number of visitors by one-third by 2030 and calls for managing growth sustainably.
“Edinburgh is such an iconic city and we're thrilled to be able to say it will be the home of the first Virgin Hotel in the UK and across Europe,” Branson said in a statement.
“...The people of Edinburgh have been so great in welcoming us to their great city; we can't wait to open our doors to people across the country and, indeed, the world.”
The Edinburgh development will be the first of more UK and European properties, says Virgin Hotels.