Stay at the Balmoral Hotel

How Good Is This Historic Luxury Hotel in Edinburgh?

Why Stay at the Balmoral Hotel,
5-star Luxurious Hotel on Princes Street

  • Luxurious and very famous railway hotel with lots of character and history.
  • Traditionally decorated and elegant rooms, some with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town.
  • Fine-dining at Michelin-starred restaurant Number 1 and afternoon tea in Palm Court.
  • Excellent spa, swimming pool, sauna and fitness centre.
  • Location: The most central hotel in Edinburgh, on Princes Street, in the absolute heart of the city.
  • Rates: Average room price per night: £150-£374 ($236-$588) but special deals can save you up to 50%.

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Are you considering a stay at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh? You will not be alone as it is one of the best-known and most expensive hotels in the city, an iconic and luxurious hotel, right in the heart of the city centre, with an award-winning spa and leisure facilities.

The Balmoral is a truly unique, landmark hotel, almost as famous as Edinburgh itself. It houses Michelin starred restaurant Number 1, famed for its exquisite food and excellent service. But does this 5-star hotel stand out from the crowd?

I've read hundreds of reviews from guests who have stayed at the Balmoral over the years and the following is a clear and unbiased summary of what these guests really thought of their stay at this hotel.

What's special about the Balmoral Hotel?

  • Very famous luxury hotel with a regal and historic atmosphere, being one of the two original Victorian railway hotels in Edinburgh, a famous landmark of the city, with a 195 feet clock-tower.
  • Impeccable service with professionally trained and very helpful staff, for whom nothing is too much trouble.
  • Excellent spa, voted Scotland's Top Urban Day Spa in Conde Nast Traveller's 2008 Readers' Spa Awards, as well as a 15m swimming pool, sauna, eucalyptus steam room and an exercise studio.
  • Location: Excellent location at 1 Princes Street, right in the heart of Edinburgh city centre and next to Waverley train station. The Balmoral is perfectly situated for shopping, sightseeing and dining for those who want to be right in the centre of where everything is happening.

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What do guests really think?

Many reviewers thought that the Balmoral is an expensive hotel, but that you get what you pay for. Others, who had obtained discounted rates on the Internet, loved their stay but would not have paid the full price. There were a few negative or average reviews, mainly around the condition of the rooms and the views from the rooms, but these were far outweighed by the positive comments.

  • Most guests described the Balmoral as the height of luxury and perfectly located in the very heart of the city. A small number, however, described it as soulless and lacking in warmth.
  • The reviews of the rooms were very mixed. The 168 rooms and 20 suites are all very individual and this showed through in the reviews. Many guests loved how spacious their rooms were, while others were unpleasantly surprised at how small they were.
  • Some would have preferred to have rooms facing out onto the street, whilst others found the rooms with views far too noisy. The courtyard facing rooms attracted many varied reviews, as many reviewers were extremely unhappy with the lack of view, whereas others preferred them to the street facing ones, as they were very quiet.
  • Most guests loved the spa, which was described as high-quality and immaculate. It seems that there is high demand for the treatments, so it pays to book in advance.

The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh City Centre

Scottish Tourist Board Rated 5 Star Hotel

1 Princes Street,
Postcode: EH2 2EQ
Tel: +44 (0)131 556 2414
Official Balmoral Website

How far is the Balmoral Hotel from the bus and train stations?
Right next to the train station and 0.1 miles (0.2 km) approx to the bus station

The Balmoral is on Princes Street itself, being the most centrally located luxury hotel in Edinburgh.

Visit Scotland star rating: 5 star Hotel
Hotel Reviews: Balmoral reviews

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My Recommendation

After reading so many reviews, the Balmoral does seem to be true 5-star quality, especially with the extremely high level of service and leisure facilities. Due to the mixed reviews on the quality and size of the rooms and the varying comments about noise and views, I would recommend that you check carefully where your room is situated.

Location is everything and if you are looking for a traditional and historic hotel, in the absolute heart of the city centre, with excellent service and yet a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, then the Balmoral could be a good choice.

You may have to pay more in terms of room rate and extras, but most reviewers feel that it's worth paying more to be able to stay in such a luxurious and historic hotel.

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In Depth Review of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh

Luxurious and very expensive historic hotel. Ultra central location at 1 Princes Street.
Average room price per night: £150-£374 ($236-$588)

What is the Balmoral Hotel like?

The Balmoral Hotel (nicknamed the grand old lady) is a famous Edinburgh landmark in its own right, with its stunning architecture and imposing clock tower. Designed by the architect William Hamilton Beattie, and owned by British Rail for over seventy years, it was eventually sold in 1996 to the Rocco Forte chain of hotels.

It was extensively refurbished at that time, with the interior design being done by Olga Polizzi, Sir Rocco Forte's sister. The result is an elegant and distinct style, bringing a contemporary feel to a traditional and opulent background.

Five Star Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh

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Building and room design

  • Many hotel rooms have stunning views of Princes Street, the Old Town or even Edinburgh Castle, whilst others are facing an inner courtyard.
  • The Balmoral is an imposing and elegant building, with a 195 feet clock-tower, as famous as many of the Edinburgh attractions it is located so close to.
  • There were various opinions about the size and location of the rooms but there were also mixed views on the quality of maintenance.
  • Many loved their elegant and traditionally decorated guestrooms, whereas others commented that they are in need of updating. It would appear, though, that a programme of refurbishment is underway, although it was not clear whether this is complete or not.
  • Some reviewers complained of noise from the corridors and between rooms, although it is understood that sound-proofing the rooms is part of the refurbishment programme.
  • A few guests were not happy with the state of the bathrooms and reported that while they were clean, there was mould due to the fact that they needed revamping. Again, it is understood that the newly refurbished rooms have up to date marble bathrooms.

Staff and level of service

  • Most reviewers thought that the service at the Balmoral was second to none and that the staff were attentive, professional, willing to help, yet unobtrusive. Some remarked that the friendliness of the staff put them at ease, despite the luxurious surroundings. However there was a small minority of reviewers that found the staff condescending or unhelpful.
  • There were a couple of less recent reports complaining about the level of service and attitude of the concierge team. However there are several reviewers who, more recently, made a point of praising them, and describing them as brilliant, obliging and a rarity.
  • Quite a few people were unhappy with the fact that there are so many paid extras, when the Balmoral hotel is already very expensive. These included parking at approximately £25 per night and Wi-Fi at £15 per day.
  • Some reviewers were pleased that the hotel staff made every effort to check them in early whenever possible.

Food and drink

  • The hotel is home to Michelin star restaurant Number One, and the reviews were extremely consistent in terms of the food quality and level of service that you would expect from a Michelin starred establishment. The comments were extremely positive, almost without exception.
  • Most reviewers absolutely loved the quality and the presentation of the food and they also praised the level of service, with special care being given to individual requests, despite how busy the staff are. One tip is that you should book ahead, as it is not usually possible to eat there without a reservation.
  • Another eating option at the Balmoral is Hadrian's Brasserie, which also has excellent reviews.
  • The Bollinger Bar in the famous Palm Court, although fairly expensive (as you would expect!), is a perfect place to indulge. There is also the Balmoral Bar for cocktails and malt whiskies.
  • Afternoon tea can be taken in Palm Court, an elegant ritual, accompanied by a harpist, an experience praised by many guests. A consistent theme on drinks, as well as the overall hotel experience, is that it is expensive, but that you get what you pay for.
  • The breakfast reviews were fairly consistent and the general consensus was that it is excellent, if a little expensive.
  • A few reviewers pointed out the lack of tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms, however a complementary tea tray is available on request from room service.

Location and parking

  • The location is everything with the Balmoral as the hotel is right in the heart of Edinburgh at 1, Princes Street, next to Waverley station. It is also close to the city attractions, with Edinburgh Castle a 15-minute walk away.
  • The airport is a 25-minute drive away. The Balmoral Hotel is just a 5-minute walk away from the airport shuttle bus stop.
  • Valet parking is available at approximately £25 per night according to the reviews and most people felt that this was too expensive.

Nice touches

  • Complementary home-made clotted cream fudge in the reception area every day!
  • For ultimate indulgence, rose petal baths are available at a charge on request.
  • Some reviewers reported being upgraded to superior or more spacious rooms, especially on special occasions.
  • Many guests appreciated the roaring log fire in the reception area.

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