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The Balmoral Hotel 5.0

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Review Summary

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  • Fee for parking
  • Fee for breakfast, unless purchasing a package 
  • Breakfast service slow at peak times
  • Shaky Wi-Fi signal and slow speed at times (better connectivity comes with a fee)
  • Some rooms are on the small side

Bottom Line

The 188-room grand railway Balmoral Hotel has been a part of Edinburgh's skyline since 1902 (courtesy of its famous clock tower, which runs three minutes fast to ensure guests never miss their trains). The large, majestic luxury hotel has a range of rooms, from compact, comfortable Classic Rooms to large multi-room suites. The five restaurants, including one with a Michelin star, and bars offer a wealth of choices, and include a brassiere, a tea court, a lounge, and a Scotch bar. Packages can be purchased, but generally expect to pay for the extras here.

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Combines modern and classic design in a majestic environment

From the outside, the large, ornate, pre-war Balmoral Hotel looks as majestic as when it first opened at the turn of the last century. The hotel has been renovated in a sleek, colorful design that highlights its classic architecture but incorporates modern style. The large, echoing lobby has beautiful, dark-wood reception and concierge desks with marble countertops. Behind reception is a cabinet with small mail cubbies, a holdover feature from when the Balmoral first opened in 1902. More modern touches include the teal-blue boxy sofas and mutli-colored carpet. The grand staircase that leads to the mezzanine overlooking the lobby has kept its classic structure, with a wood-and-iron banister and candle-like wall sconces, but is imbued with vibrant colors -- blue in the wall paper and an array of blues, purples, and reds in the carpet. 

A sense of regal luxury pervades this large hotel. The design is thoughtful, not necessarily ornate but embellished. It highlights history while adding modern comforts. The five restaurants and bars stick to this principle too -- their modern design still looks classic, and they distinguish themselves through color. There are the greens and blues of Palm Court, the scene of a popular tea service (though some guests have complained that the service and food could stand some improvement), and the gold and browns of the aptly named Scotch bar. The Balmoral Bar channels the purple and black of the lounge, while Hadrian's Brasserie goes for more natural wood tones. The Michelin-starred Number One, unsurprisingly, dons bold red and gold.   


Centrally located above the Edinburgh train station, among some of the city's main attractions

The Balmoral is located in the heart of Edinburgh, essentially at the dividing line between Old Town and the New Town. It sits atop the Edinburgh train station on Princes Street, a popular destination for shopping and entertainment. The hotel is within easy walking distance of popular tourist attractions such as Royal Mile, the Gallery of Scotland, and the North Bridge. 


Smaller rooms may feel cramped, but all are bright and well-furnished 

Like the common areas, the rooms at the Balmoral are sleekly designed to combine modern and classic elements. Furniture is typically wood, in good condition, and reminiscent of a 1920s -- and 1960s -- design. Again, bold color is used to carry the rooms into this century. Rustic orange and browns predominate in the smaller rooms, and blues and reds in the suites. With high-ceilings (often with beautiful, ornate moldings) and big windows looking out onto the city, rooms are bright and welcoming. They have fully stocked minibars, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi, though the connection can be shaky at times. Bathrooms are beautiful and bright, with marbled tile, deep tubs, and rain showers. Some rooms, in particular the Classic Rooms, Executive Rooms, and even the Junior Suites, are found to be smaller than expected. Remember there is a functioning train station below the hotel, and those staying on lower floors may hear some rumbling.


Five restaurants and bars, a spa, an indoor pool, and an expansive fitness center

The Balmoral is a luxury hotel with a beautiful indoor pool, constructed in a vaguely Grecian style -- the pool is encircled by columns which are cushioned wooden loungers. The adjacent spa, which offers a host of beauty and body treatments, is small and a bit plain -- its lounge has blanketed, pillowed lounges but has little adornment  on the walls. The multi-room fitness center is large and extremely well-equipped, with a host of cardio machines, weight machines, free weights, exercise balls, mats, and more. The hotel's five restaurants and bars offer a range of choices and draw local residents too, to the extent that some guests have complained that they have become overcrowded. There are Number One, a Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant; Hadrian's Brassiere, a less expensive place to eat with a well-regarded Scottish fare; the Palm Court, which serves afternoon tea; and the Balmoral Lounge for typical hotel bar service; or Scotch, where guests can try over 400 whiskies.  

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1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH2 2EQ United Kingdom