The Balmoral Hotel
What We Love
- Kilted doorman and grand entrance make a stellar first impression
- Attentive yet unfussy staff deals adroitly with everyone: celebrities, tourists and the passing public
- Unfussy guestrooms give you a feel for Edinburgh’s history, plus restful ambience
What To Know
- Functions and Palm Court rendezvous bring a constant flow of people
- No tea or coffeemaking facilities in guestrooms — room service only
- J.K. Rowling finished writing the Harry Potter series here and now has a suite named after her
- Room Service
A baronial Edwardian pile opened in 1902, with gorgeous architectural details — clock tower and mini-turrets — presiding over Princes Street. Pale marble, white pillars and orchids in the lobby welcome guests with understated class and relaxed elan. Throughout the hotel old and new are combined tastefully.
Bed and Bath
Decor is unflashy and contemporary, with light walls complementing high-quality textured fabrics, including damasks and plaids. Historic prints, landscape photographs and botanical paintings further elaborate the Scots theme. There are 188 guestrooms and suites, many of which have been refurbished in stages in recent years. Expect spacious rooms with high ceilings and marble bathrooms, especially the suites. The 180-square-foot J.K. Rowling Suite, where the writer finished the Harry Potter series in 2007, has turret alcove views, her writing desk and a marble bust of Greek god Hermes.
The cavernous Palm Court retains the opulence of the Edwardian Age with refined harp music — it’s a popular spot for afternoon tea, champagne and cocktails. Choose from the chic Art Deco brasserie Hadrian’s — designed by Olga Polizzi — or the refined Michelin-starred Number One. Book ahead for a corner banquette and a tasting menu experience amid reimagined Edwardian sophistication. Next to the gym is the Balmoral Spa, which has a Finnish sauna, Turkish steam room, 15-meter pool and treatments.
In the Area
The location is a shopper’s dream. Historic department store Jenners is nearby, as are the New Town’s upscale and speciality boutiques on and around George Street and St. Andrew Square, including Harvey Nichols and quirky Hannah Zakari. For a slice of Victorian splendor and Edinburgh atmosphere, pop in for a pint at the Café Royal circle bar, and perhaps a seafood platter at the adjoining Oyster Bar restaurant. On the way to the Old Town and Royal Mile, visit the Princes Street Gardens, the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Museum of Scotland. Be adventurous and explore leafy Stockbridge along the Water of Leith for its independent shops and galleries — and herons.
How to Get There
The Balmoral is a landmark in Edinburgh, identified by the iconic clock tower atop the hotel. The rooms are excellent and the service is exceptional. We loved our room next to the J. K. Rowling Suite (purple door, owl knocker!) and we even caught some views of the Fast & Furious filming going on in the street next door.
The rooms here are large and very comfortable. The hotel is conveniently located but arrival and departure can be chaotic. There are a few steps up and not enough help at the door so getting bags in and out can be a bit difficult. The Brasserie Prince is ok but not excellent. Elevators are quite small and you may need to wait if the hotel is busy. Overall, the hotel is fine. If we’re ever back in Edinburgh again, we’d likely stay here again purely based on how comfortable the rooms are.
Just one night as we headed north to the Highlands. It was a very comfortable night! We were looked after from arriving in front of the hotel in our car to checking out the following day. Valet parking kicked in as we arrived, yes - at a cost but worth it in the traffic ridden, roadwork chaos of Edinburgh. Check in was smooth and the room beckoned. This hotel is a fairly old building and in many respects all the better for it. The rooms are generally spacious and have high ceilings which keeps them cooler in warm weather. Furniture is comfortable, our room had a small sofa and an armchair. Fresh milk in the mini bar together with the usual coffee and teas complete with kettle and Nespresso coffee machine. Breakfast in the Prince Bistro was very good, they were clearly trying hard to emulate an FS (Four Seasons) or MO (Mandarin Oriental) breakfast and they got fairly close. My diet has to be gluten free and they coped with that well. The bar is attractive as is the Whisky Room and both were well used by residents and passers by. All in all a good stay, We would stay again but perhaps next time we will arrive by train, after all the hotel is just above the station and the traffic / roadworks are really bad (September 19).