A SCOTTISH hotel is erecting a second marquee today to increase its outdoor dining capacity, after taking nearly 1,000 bookings in the first hour after it opened reservations for al fresco eating and drinking.

The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen took 996 reservations within an hour of bookings opening on Monday for “The Gallery Al Fresco Experience”. This dining experience will open on July 8, and will operate from Wednesday to Sunday between noon and 10pm.

Within two hours of bookings being opened, the total had risen to nearly 1,400 and it had by yesterday morning reached 1,999.

A spokeswoman for the hotel said: "Interest has been huge."

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The hotel invested in a 25-metre-long marquee with open sides to allow guests to eat and drink outdoors when it reopens, having closed to customers temporarily because of the coronavirus crisis lockdown. It noted this marquee should allow up to 70 guests to visit at any one time while remaining at two-metre physical distancing. A second marquee, 20 metres by 17 metres, has been ordered this week to extend the hotel’s covered area further and give greater capacity for bookings. It is due to be erected today.

Hotel general manager Stephen Gow said: “We’ve been working hard throughout lockdown to prepare for the day when we can reopen. But I don’t think anything has prepared us for the reaction that we’ve had. There will be a partnership between our team and our guests to make the new way of working a success.”

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The Chester Hotel earlier this month flagged its plans to offer al fresco dining as soon as reopening of open-air spaces to serve food and drink was permitted by the Scottish Government.

The hotel, owned by Graham Wood, furloughed staff in March as it closed temporarily amid lockdown measures implemented by the UK Government to slow the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.

The 71-room hotel also plans two transparent "igloo" domes for dining, described as “Eden Project-style”. A spokeswoman said it was awaiting approvals for these, which was likely to be in phase three of the easing of lockdown restrictions.