How the trend was bucked by a Scottish hotel and remained open



Glasgow’s only five-star hotel’s new general manager has praised the patronage of “local” visitors with helping it hit a 50 percent occupancy rate throughout the pandemic, while other hotels in Scotland were forced to close their doors.

Kimpton Blythswood was led by new manager Gillian Mylles during the chaos of the global health crisis. After operating the Edinburgh hotel for two years, she took the top job weeks before the first national closure in March.

The Blythswood continued to host weddings, albeit on a significantly reduced scale, while officially closed under Level 4 restrictions, with the sixth scheduled to take place today, Hogmanay, in December.

The service will bear no resemblance to what a typical wedding would deem many. There will be no champagne reception or first dance, and the smiles on the faces of the ten guests will be hidden by masks.

The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews is the newest to close its doors due to a pandemic.

Nevertheless, 35-year-old Mylles, who is originally from Aberdeen but now lives in Edinburgh, says those who agreed to get married thought they wanted to take something good away from a tough year – after many cancellations, for one couple it was their third attempt at marriage.

She says there were also some unintended advantages to the more casual events, allowing couples more room to appreciate the importance of the day, and she says workers did whatever they could to ensure that couples had a memorable day.

A number of high-profile hotels, including Turnberry, Gleneagles and the four-star Auchrannie resort on the Isle of Arran, chose to remain closed, although they were permitted to stay open on Stage 3.

Until this current closure, we remained open, mainly because we are so popular in the local community,”We stayed open until this current closure, mainly because we are so popular in the local community,”

On the weekends, we were still busy and still reaching a 50 percent occupancy rate in Level 3, so it was really just locals coming here to escape from the four walls of their homes or their children!”We were still busy on the weekends and still achieving a 50 percent occupancy rate in Level 3, so it was really just locals coming here to escape the four walls of their homes or their kids!”

The spa itself is one of the hotel’s key attractions and we have been lucky to be able to keep parts of it open.

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It still feels like an enjoyable experience, even with all the constraints we have received from visitors, and I think that is very significant. For both of us, it’s been a really bad year and I think they really want a sense of normalcy.

She said bookings were “incredibly good” for the hotel’s penthouse, which hosted celebrities such as singer Ariane Grande and cost more than £ 2,500 a night, boosted by a new Bollywood film, part of which was shot during the summer months in Glasgow.

When we reopened for the first time, we had a production with us that brought it to one of their biggest stars, so it got us right through August. We also had a couple who got engaged (and stayed) and a couple on Dec. 18 who got married.

Although after the initial national closure, several couples decided to cancel their weddings, the hotel manager said bookings actually picked up towards the end of the year.

“What we noticed in November and December is that some couples just wanted to get married this year, not in the sense that they wanted to get it over with, but to make sure they ended this year on a high,” he said.

“We’re having our sixth wedding tomorrow, so they can have their ceremony here despite the closure,” he said.

On Dec. 23, we had a couple who were dating, and it was their third time getting married. It was good to be able to turn it around like that.

We can only do the wedding at level 4, so they can come and get married, but they have to leave the hotel afterwards, unfortunately,”In Level 4, we can only do the ceremony, so they can come and get married, but unfortunately they have to leave the hotel afterward,”

It was up to 20 people in level 3. It’s a full-seating affair, everybody has to wear face veils except the bride and groom, but we’re permitted to serve alcohol.

A lot of wedding couples, I guess, forget that it’s their big day and maybe they don’t really take everything in.

“Maybe it has brought the focus back to what a wedding is all about.”

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The manager of the hotel said that it was “unfortunate” that there was an announcement.


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