Landmark hotels are empty – but hope of swift return remains

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Riverside darkness falls over two of the grand hotels of Inverness.

Coronavirus crisis grips city

                                                                                                                                                   Friday, March 27

TWO landmark hotels on the Inverness riverside now stand empty and silent on a walkway which has always shown our tourist city in high season at its finest. The Palace shut down on Monday and the Columba closed its doors on Tuesday. 

But the external lights still shine brightly over both, in the hope that it won’t be too long before they’re back in business.

 Together they dominate Ness walk, the scenic tourist hub of the Highland capital. 

 In normal times both would already be busy and gearing up for a flood of visitors which would have seen them packed throughout the summer and beyond. But although no-one is totally giving up hope that the virus threat could begin to fade sooner rather than later, that as of now seems a remote possibility. 

 And the chances of this year’s tourist season resembling the mass influx of recent years seem virtually non-existent. 

 Visitors sitting out at tables in the sunshine or strolling along the riverside at Ness walk has been a picture postcard scenario for years. In normal times residents at the Columba and the Palace can enjoy a glorious view over the riverside, and of Inverness Castle.

 The Columba has a long history as a favoured resting place for visitors to Inverness stretching back more than 130 years. It was built in 1888. The Palace was built in 1890.

 Outside wartime, this is one of the very few times that either have had to close for any length of time. It will be a welcome sign for the Highland capital when these symbolic landmark buildings reopen to welcome travellers again.

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