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Edinburgh hotel partners with social enterprise to give guided tours with a difference

Edinburgh hotel partners with social enterprise to give guided tours with a difference

An Edinburgh hotel has teamed up with a social enterprise to offer guests guided tours around the city, led by people who have experienced homelessness there.

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel has partnered with Invisible Cities, which has created the tours for hotel guests, starting at Charlotte Square and making their way through the sights of Edinburgh. During the tours guides will share some lesser known stories about how the city was built and why the names were chosen for some of the citys most historical streets. Tours are conducted with physical distancing in mind and in line with local guidelines.

Invisible Cities trains and supports people affected by homelessness to become walking tour guides in the city where they live, enabling them to create their own family-friendly tours highlighting famous landmarks whilst also sharing their own stories and experiences. It also offers the tours in Manchester, Glasgow, York and Cardiff. 

As well as receiving training, the guides are also referred to other organisations and supported towards the career paths they have chosen. They use part of their profit to support them through personal projects.

Invisible Cities aims to raise awareness and change perceptions about homelessness through the tours. The social enterprise also runs other events for a wider audience, and in its local communities to support people experiencing homelessness.

Kieran Quinn, General Manager at Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, said: 

“In the last few months the tourism industry has gone through an incredibly difficult time but it has been heart-warming to see our community in Edinburgh come together in support of one another. The partnership with Invisible Cities feels like the perfect way to support an extremely important enterprise and also welcome guests back to Edinburgh in a meaningful way.”

 “Our communities and neighbourhoods are the fabric of who we are. Now more than ever, people are looking for deeper connections when travelling Invisible Cities has created tours specifically for our guests that are not only a true insiders guide to Auld Reekie but are also a chance to support an innovative business who are striving to change peoples lives for the better.”

Zakia Moulaoui, Founder of Invisible Cities, said: 

“We are lucky enough to be able to offer visitors a truly special walking tour of the city from unique voices who have experienced the best and worst of the streets where they live.

“At the moment it feels important to regain a sense of community after everything that the tourism industry has gone through during the pandemic. Working with Kimpton Charlotte Square is an incredible opportunity for two businesses to come together and champion each other as well as the inspirational tour guides we have the pleasure to work alongside.”

Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel is one of four Kimpton Hotels in the UK, including Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, Kimpton Fitzroy London and Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester.

Last year, Airbnb invited charities to offer ‘social impact experiences’ through its platform to encourage travellers to engage in social causes, with people visiting a particular location seeing these experiences listed for them as a relevant local attraction. While it charged a 20% service fee for commercial experiences, it said would charities receive 100% of the proceeds from these experiences.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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