by Courtney Elko
Centrally located in Edinburgh’s chic and elegant New Town, the gorgeous Balmoral Hotel stands out. Built in 1902 as a luxury railroad hotel, The Balmoral has been at its prestigious address of 1 Prince Street for more than a century. The building’s grand clock tower can be seen for miles, but the time purposely runs three minutes fast, as has been the tradition since 1902. Because this was a railway hotel for the wealthy and the Waverley Train station (the first train station in Edinburgh) is attached to the hotel, the clock runs three minutes fast in order for folks to be on time for the trains.
In more modern times, The Balmoral continues its prestige with a Michelin-starred restaurant, modern spa and pool, and vintage, elegant tea room. It also has the honor of being the location where J.K. Rowling wrote the final “Harry Potter” book. Families can stay in the suite she occupied for six months while she finished writing the book. Families looking for luxury and elegance without the “do not touch” vibe in a central location while visiting Edinburgh should consider a stay at The Balmoral Hotel.
Our Editor Loves
- Luxurious, historic hotel
- Where JK Rowling wrote the final “Harry Potter” book
- Location in New Town
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are 168 guestrooms and suites here. Surprisingly, the lower floors offer higher ceilings, but all of the rooms offer great city views. Cribs, rollaway beds and connecting rooms are available upon request. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. All of the rooms are elegant and stylish with a Scottish flare, but they are family-friendly as well.
The guestrooms feature a queen or king bed, but single beds can be added for children. There is a marble bathroom with a tub, flat-screen television, in-house movies, coffeemaker, and an in-room bar and snack bar if desired. Some of the guestrooms feature a small sitting area as well.
Suites and Signature Suites
The suites and Signature suites offer guests more space and more luxury compared to the guestrooms. Fun Fact: The Scone and Crombie Suites -- essentially multi-room, grand luxury apartments with 12-foot ceilings – have hosted celebrities! The suites offer separate sitting or living areas, a coffeemaker, flat-screen television with in-house movies, and marble bathroom. The Grand and Signature suites feature a fireplace and a personalized in-room bar and snack bar if desired. The suites have a king bed, but additional beds can be added for children. The suites can sleep between three and four people and can connect to guestrooms for even more space.
J.K. Rowling Suite
This signature suite is where the author wrote her final “Harry Potter” installment, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” She checked in to the suite in 2007 and stayed for six months, while she finished up her tales in the lap of luxury. The door knocker features a brass owl in her honor and there is a marble bust of Hermes, the Greek god of travel, decorating the room that Rowling signed herself.
The suite is not the largest of the hotel’s accommodations, but it can accommodate two adults and up to two children on extra beds. There is a king bed in the bedroom area and marble tub and stand-up shower in the bathroom. In the separate living room area, there is a sofa, flat-screen television, a desk with a typewriter, and a personalized in-room bar and snack bar if desired.
The Balmoral is an outstanding luxury hotel with outstanding service and excellent central location to both new and old towns. i enjoyed my stay there very much. Room was well appointed, roomy and very comfortable. The only down side was the step into the shower is extremely high and would be difficult for anyone with mobility impairment.
We stayed at this beautiful hotel last weekend and felt thoroughly pampered from start to finish ! It does not have the feel of a chain hotel at all and that is down to the wonderful staff … they are all exceptionally friendly and will go to endless trouble to make sure your every need is met .We got an upgrade to an Executive room with a view … very spacious with a gorgeous bathroom and every amenity we could wish for . Breakfast was lovely… and so was dinner… but the highlight of our stay was the amazing afternoon tea . I meet friends regularly for tea in many of the famous London hotels but I can honestly say this was the best … we were even given a little tin of tea and a box of chocolates to take home at the end . So many cakes we couldn’t eat them and they were boxed up and whisked to our room in a flash ! This was our first visit to Edinburgh … and it certainly won’t be the last … and we were so glad we chose the Balmoral !
Located in the spa area, this indoor, modern pool welcomes families. There is coffee, water and newspapers available and pool towels are provided. Lounge chairs and tables with chairs surround the long, lap pool, offering natural light from outside.
Kids Activities and Amenities
Bonnie the baby Owl lives in the Balmoral’s clock tower and is always happy to welcome kids to her home. Bonnie and The Balmoral welcome kids with age-specific welcome kits. For children ages infant to 3, there is owl turndown service, complimentary baby meals, high chairs, bottle warmers, bibs, cribs, night lights, play mats, baby bathtubs and more, available upon request.
Kids ages 4 to 12 receive coloring books, a passport scavenger hunt for the hotel, owl turndown service with cookies and milk, and 50-percent off all kids’ meals. Kids’ backpacks, hangers, books, movies, games, content-protected Wi-Fi, potties and pint-sized robes and slippers, among other amenities, are also available. Teens are not forgotten either! For kids ages 13 to 16, teen spa treatments are available, along with city activity sheets, kids’ menus, movies, magazines, games and more.
The Balmoral Hotel offers Michelin-starred fine dining, as well as casual, family-friendly dining. Vegan, gluten-free and other allergy-specific menus are always available, along with a kids’ menu. Children ages 4 to 12 receive 50-percent off all kids’ meals in the restaurants and in-room dining.
In partnership with legendary chefs and restauranteurs, Alan Roux, and his father, Michel Roux, The Balmoral opened this casual, but elegant dining experience in 2018. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Brasserie features French cuisine with a Scottish flare. Breakfast offers a buffet or a la carte menu with items like freshly baked breads, fruits, cheeses, waffles, porridge, eggs and much more. For lunch and dinner, there is a raw bar, salads, light bites (including smoked almonds and the restaurant’s signature popcorn), risotto, seafood, lamb, steak, and pasta.
Situated on the opposite side of the room is the Brasserie Prince Bar area that is more like a Scottish living room or library. There are cozy chairs and a fireplace and bar food including a cheese board, ice cream or pate.
Afternoon tea is offered in the Palm Court from noon to 5 p.m. daily. The seven-course tea can take about two hours as you enjoy each sip and morsel underneath a gorgeous sparkling Venetian chandelier and green palm trees, a harpist playing in the background. A children’s tea menu is available, with kid-friendly cakes and sandwiches.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Valet parking is available for an additional cost.
- Fitness Center
A fitness center is located within the spa and features cardio and weight machines. Group exercise classes like yoga are also offered here. Personal trainers are also available.
Babysitting services are available 24/7 upon request and for an additional cost.
The Best Time to Visit
Edinburgh is a four-season vacation destination and The Balmoral Hotel is busy throughout the year.
The Edinburgh Airport is located about 30 minutes from the hotel and airport transfers can be arranged by the hotel. The hotel is also connected to the Waverley Railway Station, which offers connections throughout the United Kingdom, making it convenient for families to reach the hotel by train.
The Balmoral is centrally located in Edinburgh’s New Town section. A vehicle is not needed if you plan to stay within Edinburgh. Most of the city is walkable and taxis are readily available.
- Number One
Best for a date night without the kids, this Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant has held its rank for more than 13 years. Open daily for dinner only, the restaurant offers a menu with the finest Scottish ingredients, with a flare of French and Japanese cuisines as well. The courses can run between nine and 13 and the menu is always changing.
- Scotch Lounge
More than 500 whiskeys await in this lounge that holds the largest private collection of Scotch in the UK. The décor in this cozy lounge has you feeling as though you are sitting inside a glass of whiskey with the Scottish ambiance everywhere and the servers wearing kilts. Food is also available here.
The onsite spa offers a variety of treatment options, its own private skin care line and modern-day serenity -- great after a long day of travel. The spa features five treatment rooms, an indoor pool, sauna and steam room and group exercise classes, including yoga. Children are permitted in the pool area and teens are permitted in the spa; however, kids are not allowed in the sauna or steam rooms.