The Balmoral, Edinburgh — Hotel Review: Classic Luxury in the Heart of the City


umping on a carbon-pumping flight for a cheeky weekend seems outdated.

Better to stick with more sustainable options accessible by train. Enter Edinburgh. Just over four hours from Kings Cross, this is one of the most impressive towns in the UK and The Balmoral is at the center of the action.

Where is it?

It couldn’t be more central. Exit Edinburgh Waverly station, turn right, walk 20 seconds and you have arrived at the Balmoral. Right in the middle of Princes Street with Carlton Hill and Arthur’s Seat to the right and overlooking the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle to the left, you have the city in front of you.

The Balmoral


This hotel by Rocco Forte is synonymous with classic and comfortable luxury. Pass the friendly kilted doormen and enter the large lobby where you will be greeted by many other smiling and attentive employees. Interiors are a stylish mix of neutrals and bold prints. Zingy floral curtains hang next to plush sofas and plump throw pillows in the suites. Modern touches creep into the bustling Prince’s Brasserie with its House of Hackney wallpaper and shabby-chic pink leather banquettes, but it’s a grande dame of a place; somewhere you would come for a special occasion or with the most discerning family members.

food drink

It is a hub for locals. On a Friday night at Princes Bar the G&T’s were flowing and the excellent live music was entertaining. Head to Brasserie Prince (run by Executive Chef Gary Robinson) for French cuisine with a Scottish twist. We feasted on fresh oysters and a tender Scottish prime rib with butter. Breakfast is served here too and was excellent with everything from a full Scottish (features haggis, naturally) to eggs of all kinds and homemade granola.

Restaurant number one

/ The Balmoral

For special occasions, the hotel’s Number One restaurant, awarded 4 AA rosettes, is a winner. Offering a seven-course menu, it’s a tasty tour of modern Scottish cuisine with fresh seasonal produce. Afternoon tea is served in the Palm Court Lounge and all your nightcap cravings can be satisfied with one of the 500 varieties of whiskey in the SCOTCH bar.


The spa is a sanctuary with a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym. Using Irene Forte Skincare products, there is a long list of treatments offering everything from facials to body rituals to special massages for clients going through or recovering from cancer, performed by therapists trained in Cancer Touch Therapy (CTT). And, if your heart still dreams of sunnier climes, Time in The Med treatments are performed using volcanic stones from Mount Etna and oils created from Sicilian flora.

The spa

/ The Balmoral


The hotel offers too many activities and excursions to mention. Among the most popular are golf experiences, gin tastings and Instagram walking tours. The Balmoral also offers a perfume butler and a poet-in-residence, but you feel like you could ask for anything and it would all be arranged quickly and with a smile.

What piece?

The Balmoral is an Edinburgh landmark and its 200ft clock tower can be seen from all over the city (which greatly reduces the chance of getting lost after one drink too many). As such, it’s a behemoth of a place with 168 rooms and 20 suites. Spring for a suite with a view of the castle if possible.

JK Rowling Suite

/ The Balmoral

Best for…

Anyone with something to celebrate and wants the charms of Edinburgh within walking distance.


Rooms from £180 in low season and from £710 in high season, excluding breakfast;

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