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New hotel means boost for Edinburgh economy

The Waterloo in the capital's East End is part of a new wave of hotels in the city.

A landmark building in the centre of Edinburgh is returning to hotel trading after 120 years.

The Waterloo in the East End of the capital first opened its doors to residents in 1819.

It is one of a number of new hotels springing up across the city and experts believe they have reason for optimism despite the current economic climate.

The Waterloo Hotel was the first large-scale purpose-built hotel in Edinburgh. When it opened in 1819, it boasted an elegant coffee room and a moderate fixed-charge for servants.

Eventually it ceased trading as a hotel and was turned into office space. But now, 120 years on, this historic site will once again welcome tourists to Scotland's capital.

Alan Harbisher from Apex Waterloo Hotel said: "We had lots of listed features in the older part of the building that the architects have had to retain and renovate in many areas. There's lots of nice and interesting features throughout the building: fireplaces, mirrors, cornice work around the ceilings. Some challenging areas as well for the architects but they overcame everything and the building's looking fantastic."

The opening of the Waterloo makes Apex the largest accomodation provider in the city.

However, the firm is not alone in expanding its operation in Edinburgh. The Intercontinental Group has also announced plans to build a hotel at Haymarket and Travelodge are planning new premises near Edinburgh Airport.

Hoteliers will have been encouraged by the belief that the hotel sector is one which can weather the financial storm.

Graham Birse from the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said: "Obviously these are challenging times and likely to be for some time yet. However, the Pound is reducing in value against the Euro and the Dollar so attracting inward tourism from overseas is going to be on the basis of price anyway, a realistic proposition. And secondly from the point of view of domestic tourism, a lot of people we speak to are talking about staying at home and therefore domestic holidays are going to be in demand."

Although the Waterloo's official opening is on Monday, it will have its first real test this weekend when they play host to Irish rugby supporters - staff will be hoping they enjoy their stay, trying to ensure they have a good time, win or lose.

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