The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel

Heritage in the heart of Edinburgh

One of Edinburgh’s most instantly recognizable landmarks, The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel was first conceived as a railway hotel — it sits adjacent to Edinburgh Waverley train station. Today, the Victorian-era baronial-style property remains one of the Scottish capital’s most luxurious stays.

The agelessly elegant, castle-like exterior of turrets, bows and balconies draws the eye from all directions, yet this grand façade gives way to an even more impressive interior. Classic yet contemporary, it’s an environment where soaring ceilings, sweeping staircases and shimmering chandeliers meet floral-print furnishings, soft pastel shades and stunning landscape photographs. All are arranged around the central dome-topped Palm Court — Scotland’s afternoon tea mecca. Kilted doormen and tartan-trousered reception staff provides a hearty Scottish welcome.

With an array of extraordinary fine-dining options, sumptuous spa facilities and an unbeatable location in the heart of Edinburgh — which also means remarkable panoramic views of the iconic castle — this luxe Rocco Forte hotel is the ideal base from which to explore the city.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • The Balmoral Spa is refreshing in more ways than one. Not only is it rare to find such a large spa in a European city hotel, but its sheer range of amenities, including an indoor pool, Finnish sauna and five treatment rooms, are sure to relax and revive you.
  • What’s a trip to Scotland without whisky? The Edinburgh hotel’s bar SCOTCH carries one of the most extensive spirit selections in the city — choose from more than 500 drams.
  • With Princes Street Gardens, the Scottish National Gallery and the Royal Mile around the corner, the luxury hotel’s location is hard to beat. And particularly during Edinburgh Festival Fringe (the world’s largest arts festival), when it offers some blissful respite from the crowds while remaining in the thick of the action.
  • If you need a quiet place to reflect, head for The Gallery, a lesser-visited corner of the property where you can enjoy a cup of tea surrounded by ever-changing art exhibits.
  • The Balmoral’s aptly named Number One restaurant is an Edinburgh institution.

Things to Know

  • Many rooms afford a courtyard view. While these are nice, you are in one of the world’s prettiest capitals, so consider upgrading to a city-view room; Superior Deluxe rooms are basically suites and have panoramas across Princes Street Gardens to Edinburgh Castle.
  • Look up at the hotel’s 623-foot-tall tower, and you might see something awry. Since 1902, the clock has been set three minutes fast to help locals avoid missing their trains.
  • If you are planning an afternoon tea in Palm Court or dinner at Number One, try to reserve in advance. These are popular with locals and tourists alike, so both book up fast.
  • Take a closer look at the hotel’s stained-glass windows and you’ll find a Latin inscription: “Nemo me impune lacessit.” This phrase was the motto of the Stuart dynasty and translates as “no one assails me with impunity,” or “no one can harm me unpunished.”

The Rooms

  • Each of the 167 rooms and 20 suites is individually styled by British interior designer (and company founder Rocco Forte’s sister) Olga Polizzi to evoke Scotland through textured fabrics, botanical prints, landscape photos and hues of green, brown and gray.
  • Marble bathrooms in every room create a sense of opulence. And the random prints of Sean Connery as James Bond in each one adds a little twist of Scottish humor.
  • The Balmoral hotel’s signature suite is the Scone & Crombie, which provides more than 2,100 square feet of sheer luxury. Expect a walk-in wardrobe, a sitting room with fireplace and a separate dining room, a bedroom-sized bathroom and floor-to-ceiling Edinburgh vistas.
  • The most in-demand accommodation at this luxury hotel is the J.K. Rowling Suite. Named for the Harry Potter author — who finished the series’ final book while staying in the room — it features a brass owl door knocker and a statue of Hermes signed by the writer herself.

The Restaurants

  • Number One turns out innovative dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Don’t miss the seafood specialties, like hand-dived scallops with Iberico pork and black garlic ketchup.
  • The luxury hotel also has a new culinary kid on the block: Brasserie Prince. Opened in 2018, this is where exceptional Scottish produce meets fine French cooking.
  • Sample Scotland’s most coveted afternoon tea in Palm Court, complete with a live harpist. Choose your brew from a long tea menu, then tuck into the classic selection of finger sandwiches, housemade pastries and fluffy scones with jam and clotted cream.

24-hour room service
Babysitting services
Fitness classes
Indoor pool
Meeting rooms
Pet friendly
Getting There
1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EQ
EDI (20-26 min)  
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