AN INTERVIEW WITH FIONA STRAUSS BRAND DIRECTOR OF FINGAL

In January 2019, the hospitality scene in Edinburgh was transformed with the debut of Fingal, By the Royal Yacht Britannia – a five-star floating hotel permanently berthed at Alexandra Dock in Leith. One year on from launch, we spoke with brand director Fiona Strauss to discover the secret behind their success and find out what’s new for 2020.

What can guests expect to experience onboard Fingal?

We’ve found over the past year that guests are looking for a truly unique offering with a sense of escapism, and Fingal ticks the box for this. From arriving along the cobbled quayside where Fingal is nestled in a tranquil dock, to our stunning ballroom, Fingal really is a hotel like no other with sweeping deck spaces and attention to detail at every turn.

Guests marvel at the luxurious and unique craftmanship throughout the ship. All cabins are named after Stevenson Lighthouses with a chart of the sea contours of the lighthouse’s location stitched into a leather panel above each bed. Guests can even experience Fingal’s engine room which has been encased in a glass panelled walkway, allowing you to walk through this magnificent space and take in the heart of the ship.

The Lighthouse Bar, which is also open to non-residents, offers a relaxing space for guests to enjoy Afternoon Tea or an evening meal prepared in the galleys by our in-house team of talented chefs.

Why do you think floating luxury hotels are becoming ever more popular?

Guests want to experience something different – there is a real sense of escapism on Fingal. The moment you step onboard you are transported in mind and spirit and guests leave their busy schedule on the quayside. Fingal has a real sense of adventure and you can tour the engine room and feel the heart of the ship. There is also a lovely tie to romance being on the water and the history that a working ship brings, full of stories and adventure. There is an affinity to a luxury superyacht lifestyle but at an affordable price.

What new offerings can be found in the Port Leith area or Edinburgh in general for returning guests?

Fingal offers the opportunity to escape the stress of the city, whilst being just two miles from Edinburgh’s city centre. Guests can indulge in a stroll along the pathways of the Water of Leith or take in the sea air from our sprawling deck spaces. Our proximity to Edinburgh Airport is also a big factor as guests avoid delays battling the city centre traffic. Parking can also be a real concern for guests, so our on-site free parking is a huge benefit.

Fingal’s Lighthouse Bar is an option for guests who wish to dine on board, and there is no end of other great places to eat in Leith including Michelin starred dining at Tom Kitchin’s eponymous Edinburgh restaurant, The Kitchin, and Restaurant Martin Wishart. And of course, Fingal’s sister ship, The Royal Yacht Britannia, is berthed a short stroll away.

Are there any exciting developments planned for 2020?

We were so proud to see Fingal reach No 1 on TripAdvisor within the first six months of opening. Our aim is to carve out a new standard of luxury customer service in Scotland, while being aware of how our operational decisions impact on the environment. Our reviews are giving us the confidence that we are already consistently delivering this to our guests.

Wellness is a key strategic focus for us this year. The Scottish Government has stressed that collective wellbeing is as fundamental as GDP growth and we recognise that businesses are increasingly getting on board with this ethos. Fingal is well placed to tap into this growing market with our tranquil location by the sea, away from the busy city centre, and close proximity to the Water of Leith’s walkways. Our deck spaces offer calm areas for relaxing and entertaining, and we have recently planted our own coastal wildflower garden, in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which overlooks the dock where wildlife of many kinds can be spotted including a family of swans who have made their home beside Fingal.

Looking ahead, 2020 holds exciting plans to enhance our offering, with work commencing on the refurbishment of one of The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust’s vessels, Royal Nore, which was previously used by The Queen during her visits to the Thames for official events. This addition to our fleet will allow guests staying onboard Fingal to be transported to Britannia for evening events. Although in the early planning stages, we intend to run day trips to the three iconic Forth bridges, and down the East Coast.

Fingal, By the Royal Yacht Britannia offers 23 luxury cabins from £200 per night for a Classic Cabin, inclusive of full Scottish breakfast. For more information, please visit www.fingal.co.uk

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