Recently, The Independent published an article revealing that St Andrews is the most expensive place in the UK to stay a night in a hotel, based on data from hotels, B&Bs and self-catering premises collected by Hotels.com. Outstripping its closest rival, London, by £20, the average price for an overnight stay is calculated at £156.
The reasons behind these exorbitant prices are clear. Fife, especially along the renowned coastline on which St Andrews sits, is known for its affluence, as the region forms part of the “Jockbroker Belt” with professionals working in Edinburgh setting up homes north of the Forth. Wherever there are wealthy inhabitants, prices in all goods and services rise to match the higher level of disposable income in the area.
More specifically to St Andrews, the world-famous golf course attracts thousands of tourists ever year who partake in a highly expensive sport. Hotels, B&Bs and our very own student halls during the summer season are able to charge the rates they do with the knowledge that there is a large pool of prospective consumers both willing and able to meet whatever amount is demanded. This is particularly the case in as small a place as St Andrews: nearly all of the accommodation is close to the golf course, and so can all charge a premium.
However, one must question the methodology which The Independent used to establish its figures. Comparing St Andrews and London is strikingly disingenuous. The former is a small town of barely 26,000 inhabitants (including the student body), with the vast majority of its accommodational services are based in the wealthier half of the settlement, where rents, business rates and real estate values are high. London’s hotels, however, are more evenly spread out across the whole city of almost 10 million, in both richer and poorer boroughs alike. The distribution of tourist accommodation is so divergent that it verges on pointless to compare them. A more intelligent approach to the original survey would have been nuanced, comparing, for example, the most expensive and cheapest square mile of each location.
Meanwhile, tourists and golfers will be booking their rooms as the Open Championship comes to our town in St Andrews, surely seeing our hotels, B&Bs and self-catering premises more costly than ever before.