Sometimes a hotel is so perfect that it’s almost a problem — as in you never want to leave. That’s what it’s like to stay at The Balmoral Edinburgh. Located in the very heart of Edinburgh, the hotel was opened in 1902 under the name The North British, as one of the world’s finest railway properties. Later re-named The Balmoral, which means "majestic dwelling" in Gaelic, the hotel is right at the steps of the city’s Edinburgh Waverley railway station. With 168 rooms and 20 suites, plus all the bells and whistles (read on for those) it’s one of the finest places to stay in Edinburgh. Here’s our review.
Budget Level: Upscale to Luxe ($200+/night)
Lodging Type: Large Hotel
What You Need to Know
Originally built as a grand railway hotel (the grand clock is still set three minutes fast so that travelers don't miss their train), The Balmoral serves as the perfect location for exploring both old and new Edinburgh. It’s just steps outside the train station where bespoke bellmen whisk away your luggage while you check in (and warm up near a cozy fireplace in the grand lobby). A maze of rooms are easily navigated with the help of ever-present staff, and a mix of modern, stately, and historic aesthetics blends seamlessly here.
With historic architecture and a grand lobby, the hotel is an attraction in and of itself. Even if you're not a guest, it’s worth a spin around the property. But, if staying, it’s easy to stay put. The guest rooms, designed by hotelier and interior designer Olga Polizzi, are spacious and luxe, complete with seating areas and pretty wallpaper. There’s the historic Palm Court that’s iconic for afternoon tea (served with flourish), the Brasserie Prince from famed French chef Alain Roux (a Michelin-starred restaurant), and Scotch, which serves over 400 whiskies.
Who Will Love It
The Balmoral aesthetic and location appeals to well-heeled travelers with an appreciation for history. Due to the size and space, there’s something for every traveler here. Also note: Harry Potter fans often geek out here. The J.K. Rowling suite, with its signature bright purple door, is where the author escaped to complete the final book of the series. You'll find pops of whimsy and, best of all: The small circular alcove of the room, which contains a bust under which Rowling made her own decorative contribution — a declaration of The Deathly Hallows' completion.
Who Might Not
Travelers who want a bed & breakfast might find the hotel overwhelming in size.
The hotel’s spa area, which is available free-of-charge to guests (treatments are additional, but surprisingly affordable). The lower-level oasis boasts a large heated indoor pool, loungers, refreshments, a gym, sauna, steam room, and daily fitness classes such as stretching or yoga.
When booking directly with the hotel, guests receive a full Scottish breakfast, access to the spa/fitness center, and free wifi. All rooms include a newspaper, robes and slippers, and concierge service.
Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About
Taxes and parking is additional.
How to Get a Deal
Book directly through the hotel’s website for the best rates and extra amenities. Also, book in the off-season. We found rates in January for just $178 per night.
In the Neighborhood
The Balmoral is right at the top of the Waverley train station, which is a luxury when you're traveling from other cities with luggage in tow. The hotel is also within walking distance to the city’s major attractions including Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, the Scotch Whisky Experience, and plenty of eating, drinking, and shopping.
The Edinburgh Airport is about a half-hour ride by car.
The Bottom Line
For history, luxury, and a hotel with everything under the sun, book a room at The Balmoral Edinburgh.