Castle Categories: 5 Star Castle Hotels, B&B Castle Hotels, Castle Spa Hotels, Family Friendly Castle Stays, Michelin Star Restaurants, and Dog/Pet Friendly Castle StaysCastle Tags: Best Castle Hotels in Scotland - 2023 and Best Castle Hotels near Edinburgh in 2023
Most Famous Guests: Laurel & Hardy, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, The Queen Mother, Elizabeth Taylor.
For over a hundred years the imposing 5 star Balmoral Hotel has sat at Edinburgh, Scotland’s most prestigious address; No. 1 Princes Street. The historic building and its grand clock tower are city landmarks and the hotel’s reputation here, as the ultimate in old fashioned sophistication and style, is second to none.
Enjoy fine dining at its Michelin starred restaurant, sooth any strains at the award winning spa facilities, sample some Scotch at the famous Balmoral Whisky Bar which has over 500 varieties in total, and/or just relax, wander around and enjoy the delightfully civil atmosphere of this very special historic hotel.
The Balmoral describes itself as the ‘perfect marriage of tradition and modernity’ and though the modern is present it is the tradition that makes the building so unique and aesthetically pleasing. It is a classic 19th century homage to Renaissance architecture with bold, broad staircases, towering columns and large windows.
There is a total of 168 rooms and 20 suites to choose from, all of which were individually styled by the designer Olga Polizzi in more, but not overtly so, contemporary styles. Check out all your options on the booking page here.
The walls are pastel shades, whether painted or with gently twee floral wallpaper. The soft furnishings are all nicely colour matched too and the general feel of all the accommodation choices is warmth and comfort.
The Classic Rooms can be quite small and overlook the courtyard of the hotel so paying the extra for a city view would be worth it. If you can afford the extra better value is had with a Deluxe Castle View room which has views of Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street and almost enough space for it to be in the suite category.
The gorgeous suites are divided between Junior and Classic, with the Classics being the larger. The junior suites should not disappoint in any way though if you are booking one you might request a city view on the booking page as one or two of them have a courtyard view, which might not be to everyone’s liking. The classics meanwhile all have city views and it has to be said are really quite lovely, the photos on the booking page don’t do them justice.
Check out all the details – prices, reviews and more photos – on the booking page here.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
As mentioned above there is some Michelin starred (and four AA Rosette) fine dining to be enjoyed at the Balmoral, some of the best in the city, at the appropriately named Number One Restaurant.
If that wasn’t enough there is the more recent addition of the Brasserie Prince, where you can sample some of that famous Franco-Scots Roux family’s latest creations. Here Alain Roux, and his father Michel Roux, O.B.E. promise to pair the very best in Scottish ingredients with classic French cuisine.
Bar Prince is the place for great cocktails while the infamous Balmoral Whisky Bar is where you can discover some of the world’s finest Scotch whiskies, over 500 varieties in total, and a civilized afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the gorgeous surrounds of Palm Court.
The spa facilities are highly rated at the Balmoral with Turkish bath, steam room, sauna, massages and various health and beauty treatments including Rocco Forte treatment ‘rituals’ and ESPA skincare. All alongside a 15-metre lap swimming pool and a fitness room/gym.
Children will be well looked after here with 24 hour babysitting/child minding services, play activities and organized events such as cooking lessons and treasure hunts to help keep them off your feet.
The hotel is at the eastern edge of Princes Street, next to Edinburgh’s main Waverley station and about a five minute walk to the National Gallery and the heart of the old town.
The hotel opened on the 15 October 1902 after plans were drawn up seven years earlier by the architect William Hamilton Beattie for a grand palace in the Scottish baronial style. It actually started out as a ‘railway hotel’ to service the needs of passengers and crew of the North British Railway Company at their newly built Waverley Rail Station.
The clock tower immediately became an Edinburgh icon and in a bit of city trivia you should known that from its very beginning over 100 years ago the clock has been deliberately set three minutes’ fast to encourage people not to dawdle and go get their trains. (the only exception to this is on the 31st of December, Hogmanay, when the clock is set correctly to ring in the new year)
Perhaps the most famous guests of the early era were American comedy duo Laurel and Hardy whose cheerful meeting with fans was recorded and which remains the earliest example of the hotel captured on film.
It was owned by the rail company and was known simply as the North British Station Hotel, remaining as a privately owned hotel up to 1948 and the nationalization of the railways. It then became the property of the government through British Transport until it was sold off to the Gleneagles Hotel Company in 1983.
In 1990, Balmoral International Hotels bought it and after a huge renovation in 12 June 1991 Sir Sean Connery officially re-opened the hotel as The Balmoral, Gaelic for ‘majestic dwelling’. In 1997 the hotel then became part of the Rocco Forte Group of international luxury hotels.
In February 2007 J. K. Rowling finished the Harry Potter series at the Balmoral, with the completion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
“One of the best hotels I have ever stayed in!!! The staff really went above and beyond all expectations. Nothing was too much trouble. The room was stunning as was the hotel itself, the food and restaurant superb and the spa was gorgeous. It was 100% perfect. Thanks so much!…”
“We have stayed here a few times and it is always a treat. This hotel knows how to do first class and it really shows. They go out of their way to be helpful and friendly. The service for the room is the best I’ve ever experienced – it is perfect. They leave no detail untouched and you never get the feeling they cut corners. The rooms I’ve stayed in are beautifully decorated and fastidiously clean. It is expensive to stay there for sure but you definitely are getting what you paid for in every way and I’ve never felt short changed….”
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- 1 Princes St