No.1 Princes Street: One of Edinburgh most prestigious addresses – The Balmoral Hotel

ByAndrea Thompson

October 15, 2023
This Victorian hotel built in 1895 in a traditional Scottish baronial style was the result of a design competition won by W. Hamilton Beattie and A.R. Scott was opened on 15th October 1903.This Victorian hotel built in 1895 in a traditional Scottish baronial style was the result of a design competition won by W. Hamilton Beattie and A.R. Scott was opened on 15th October 1903.

This Victorian hotel built in 1895 in a traditional Scottish baronial style was the result of a design competition won by W. Hamilton Beattie and A.R. Scott was opened on 15th October 1903.

The hotel was formerly known as The North British Station Hotel and the only residential building to be erected on the South side of Princes Street right next to Waverley Train Station, and was pronounced as one of the great railways hotels in the UK.

The iconic clock on the outside of the building was set to run three minutes fast so no one would miss their train. Still to this day the clock runs fast and the only time it is correct is Hogmanay, the 31st December for the City’s New Year celebrations.

Extensively refurbished over the years, The Balmoral was brought in 1997 by Sir Rocco Forte and was a landmark hotel in his collection set in the heart of Scotland’s capital city with stunning views of the Castle and warm hospitality many celebrities have visited and stayed at the hotel.

One of the earliest videos of the hotel captured on film was in 1932 which documented the visit by Laurel and Hardy when it was the North British Station Hotel. Over the years many have been pictured by the two pillars outside including Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Harold Wilson to name a few. In the 1970s the Queen Mother would visit the hotel for her roast lamb dinner whilst in Scotland.

There are 187 rooms and suites which were extensively refurbished by Olga Polizzi, the sister of Sir Rocco Forte. It also has its own spa with treatment rooms, indoor 15 metre pool and gym, 3 restaurants and 2 bars/lounges. It also boasts 10 meeting rooms and event spaces for up to 350 persons.

The rooms are all air-conditioned and feature a minibar, smart tv and WiFi. The beds are all handmade and fit for royalty as made by the same supplier, Glencraft who make the beds for Balmoral Castle. They offer a turndown service. The towels are very plush and the bathtubs are very deep so beware when getting out as they are very slippery when wet.

The rooms are decorated with traditional tartan, soft forest shades in a Scottish style. All castle view rooms have a stunning outlook onto the 700-million-year-old Castle Rock.

No review could go without mentioning room 552, the one with the purple door and owl knocker!

This room has been renamed the “J K Rowling Suite” as on 11th January 2007 she finished writing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at this hotel and a marble bust which she signed and is now displayed in a glass case inside this room. With the suite starting at around £1,000 per night Harry Potter fans still make the pilgrimage wanting to visit and stay in this unique suite.

“Scotch” is the name of The Balmoral’s Whisky bar, paying homage to Scotland’s national drink and home to Edinburgh’s largest collection of whisky. Boasting over 500 varieties, you can relax on the tartan sofas and let the traditionally kilted Whisky Ambassadors help you find your wee dram!

The hotel is accredited as an Eco-certified property and has a dedicated concierge who can help plan your visit. A special hotel in an equally special location.