We want our own space
We want to play up
We want the room to breathe
I want to get away from the office
I want to give the team a proper away day
I want something less corporate
I want my own apartment
I want space to think
I want parking to be taken care of
I want to be able to go off course
I want somewhere to put my feet up
I want to cook up a storm, day and night
I want wi-fi
I want stir fry
I want space to think
I want big names on my doorstep
I want it wrapped and delivered
I want my feet up and my hair down
Skene House, our story
Skene House is the total opposite of the mass-produced, one-size-fits-all approach of many of the national and international hotel chains. While we are big in terms of scale, as we now have 192 hotel suites, serviced apartments and flats in the city centre of Aberdeen that can accommodate over 550 people per night, we think like the small, local, family business that we are.
And, we don’t rest on our laurels. We enjoy a high level of repeat business. 60% of our guests have stayed with us before, 98% of them (Tripadvisor) would recommend Skene House, and our staff’s average length of service is enviably long for the hospitality industry. We remain true to our entrepreneurial heritage and always want to be better and do better for our guests, our corporate clients and our local and wider community. We are constantly anticipating, evolving and adapting to the needs of our guests and the corporate accommodation bookers and agents who choose to accommodate their personnel in our establishments.
As an Aberdeen-owned and operated business who have to compete with national and international chains we are very grateful to those who choose to book and stay at Skene House. We do not take this for granted, and would welcome your feedback through any means, so that we can continue to meet and exceed expectations of what a small, local hospitality business can do.
If you're interested in the Skene House story, which is essentially the story of Charles Skene, photographer, entrepreneur and business man, read on.
1955 - 1974
Charles Skene joined the family photographic firm of Studio Morgan, a family business that specialised in wedding and portraiture, following his National Service and a brief stint working in Glasgow apprenticed to a photographer, when he was just 20, in 1955. He quickly built the business into one of the most profitable photographic businesses in the UK combining an innate skill in the art of photography with business acumen – an example of his portraiture was selected to hang in the Photography Hall of Fame in Santa Barbara, USA. He grew the business from a staff of 2, when he joined, to 25, and in the process earned himself a Fit for Work award in the early 1980s in recognition of his diversity in employment practice.
In the early 1970s, after 15 years behind a camera, Charles began to look for a new business challenge. He saw an opportunity for a better alternative to hotel accommodation for the hundreds of families and individuals relocating to Aberdeen because of the “black gold” found off the North East Coast of Scotland. Believing that an entrepreneur is a “dreamer who does” he negotiated a deal and sealed it with a handshake, over dinner one night, to purchase a property portfolio of 400 traditional Victorian and Edwardian flats and shops in Aberdeen and Glasgow.
1975 - 1984
What could he do with 400 properties, the majority of which were in Aberdeen's city centre and west end? In the 1970s the oil boom was generating opportunities for many local business people and Charles Skene was no exception.
He saw the hundreds of individuals and families moving into the area to take advantage of jobs involved directly and indirectly in oil exploration, support and service. Charles' was aware of the fact that for people to “feel at home” they need to have a “home from home” environment. He was not alone in recognising this fact, and the oil executives responsible for relocating vast numbers of people to Aberdeen embraced the “serviced apartment” concept. While this concept was new to the UK, it was a recognised sector in America from where many of the oil personnel were relocating – and for many years Skene House was full!
Skene House started off in the fishing “village” of Torry which was conveniently located for the new industrial estates and business parks of Tullos and Altens. Charles then began a programme of refurbishment of more and more of the flats he had originally purchased to keep up with the demand. Over time, as the needs of guests and corporate bookers developed, Charles converted the non-residential areas of the properties to include front- and back-of-house service areas for reception, concierge, housekeeping, property services.
What was serendipitous about Charles’s original property portfolio purchase was the fact that the majority included complete tenement buildings and most of them in blocks. He had bought whole blocks of tenements from one corner of the block to the other, and in some areas into the side streets also. This meant that it was possible for Charles, who also owned the gardens belonging to each tenement to convert them into free car parks for his Skene House guests – a rare luxury for city centre dwellers and visitors alike!
1985 - 1994
By the mid-eighties, Skene House Rosemount was clearly the flagship location for Skene House. Its city centre location and proximity to all of Aberdeen's key leisure attractions, and within easy access of the train station and roads from the south and to the north made it ideal for business guests.
After operating Skene House Rosemount as a HotelSuites’ development since the early 1980s, which included properties that now comprise Skene House Whitehall, Charles decided to consolidate and develop more of his property portfolio.
The mid-eighties to late nineties was a period of great change. He sold the original Torry properties and developed front- and back-of-house facilities at Skene House Whitehall so that it could become another standalone Skene House development.
1995 - 2004
By the mid-nineties, Charles was looking for a new project. In 1996, following an investment of £7m, he developed the B-listed tenement buildings on Union Grove and Holburn Street, into Skene House Holburn, a luxury boutique HotelSuites development which included an Honour Bar, a Breakfast Restaurant and a Guest Lounge.
Skene House Holburn was the first from-start-to-finish refurbishment project which, to complicate matters, was a conversion of B-listed, granite, Edwardian buildings. Charles has always had a love of interior design, having chosen to work with David Hicks in the 1970s and Jimmy Thomson of A F Drysdale in Edinburgh in the 1980s. He loved watching a designer's creative process of choosing fabrics, furnishings, paint and paper, to create tasteful, comfortable and flexible interiors.
So much so that he interviewed many and selected six internationally renowned interior designers to create the interior design for each of Holburn's 6 buildings: Jimmy Thomson, House 36, Monica Apponyi, House 30, Lyn Hunt, House 8, Stephen Ryan, House 10, Mary Fox Linton, House 12, Sylvia Lawson Johnston, House 14.
With the addition of Holburn, Skene House then had three city centre HotelSuite locations. Each operate as an individual hotel property under the Skene House umbrella; each one offers a different aesthetic and character, borne of their location and design, and all deliver exceptional value for money and wonderful customer service.
2005 - 2014
By 2005, Charles began to think that perhaps there were too many eggs in one basket.
So what did Charles do? He developed a building that he’d owned for over 20 years into 3, flexible, purpose-designed ConferenceSuites, now simply Event space owing to the fact that the rooms are completely flexible and suited to more than just corporate meetings. This adds, as he put it, another “string to our bow”. Oh, and while he was at it, he added another 37 HotelSuites in a more contemporary, minimal, open-plan design into the mix, which offer even more choice to our guests.
2015 - present day
The last few years have been challenging for Skene House. A combination of external pressures, low oil price, increase in and a reclassification of our business rates and increasing competition from national and international chains, has made for difficult trading conditions. Not to mention the uncertainty that surrounded the Scottish Independence referendum, and now Brexit.
However, this hasn't stopped Skene House evolving through anticipating and adapting to the ever-changing needs of our guests and corporate clients.
We noticed that many of our guests were fully embracing the home-from-home comforts of Skene House and staying for extended periods. Individuals and families continued to relocate to Aberdeen, but we were welcoming an increasing number of people who were moving to Aberdeen for fixed-term contracts, secondments or projects. These guests wanted more independence, fewer services and even better value-for-money and the opportunity for more personalisation of their accommodation. This the HotelApartment was conceived.
Skene House Whitehall, with its more residential location and benefiting from its private gardens, was the perfect location. We are delighted that it is now home to many who have created a lovely community. The herb garden is now proving itself with many longer-term guests taking full advantage of their fully equipped kitchens to create home-cooked meals. The local shops, delis and supermarkets on Rosemount Place are a handy stroll away for replenishing provisions and picking up a last-minute essential.
The local parks, Westburn and Victoria, are dog-walking heaven, and the back "yard" a handy amenity for late night "visits". There's even a Skene House Canine in the garden.
Our staff are still available 24/7, as usual, to provide support and assistance, when needed, and are happy to take deliveries of post or larger parcels, and even grocery deliveries which can be stored in fridges and freezers or delivered and unpacked in guests' HotelApartments. The Guest Lounge and Honour Bar provide a change of scene and Skene House Whitehall's residents often stop by for a drink or a dram.
The HotelApartment concept has proved so popular that these are now available at Skene House Rosemount.
So, if a longer stay of 30 nights or more is what you're looking for, consider a HotelApartment. You'll enjoy the same spacious accommodation, the same great 24/7 staff presence, hotel facilities and amenities and weekly housekeeping at exceptional value for money. And if you decide you want breakfast then you can enjoy our continental and full Scottish cooked breakfast buffets on a pay-as-you go basis.
Skene House was designed for families, nearly 40 years ago. Charles Skene’s original aim for Skene House was to provide a better alternative to traditional hotel accommodation for the many families relocating to Aberdeen in the 1970s.