The Balmoral hotel, by the renowned Rocco Forte group is one of my favourite places in Edinburgh. Working adjacent to its iconic clock tower, it always manages to entice me in and every time I visit, I feel so proud that this historic building is part of my city. The hotel is a well-loved landmark which has graced Edinburgh’s skyline since 1902 when it began its life as a grand railway hotel. Of course the building has undergone many changes since then but even to this day it still holds a certain magic that has luckily been harnessed and maintained.
Some say that the first impression is always the last, and this is so true when it comes to The Balmoral. As soon as you walk through its traditional revolving doors, you are greeted with the most charming staff who guide you in to the hotels expansive foyer. This marble clad space is elegant and beautifully appointed, decorated with a spectacular ever changing flower installations. Upon check-in you again get to experience that renowned Rocco Forte customer service, where staff always exude a polite and approachable nature that is quite endearing and is one of the reasons that I adore this hotel.
The hotel boasts a staggering 188 rooms that have been meticulously designed by Olga Polizzi, director of building and design at Rocco Forte Hotels. I stayed in the Braemar suite, a spacious and sophisticated room located at the rear of the property, overlooking numerous landmarks such as North Bridge and Arthur’s seat. As per most of the rooms in the hotel, the decor and style reflects the rich heritage of Scotland with a beautiful combination of both traditional and contemporary touches. The room is respectively designed to accentuate the hotels original features such as the intricate cornicing and stunning large windows. It is these aspects along with the high ceilings that give the suite a palatial and opulent ambience.
The Braemar suite is split into three dedicated spaces, the sitting/dining room, the bedroom and the bathroom. The main lounge area is grand in itself and is the perfect location to sit back, enjoy a glass of wine and absorb the splendour of this spectacular building. The lounge consists of fairly neutral tones apart from the dash of colour from the tartan clad sofa and a few accessories scattered throughout. Heavy tied back curtains frame the large bay window where a antique dining table is perfectly placed to take in the views of central Edinburgh. An ornate fire place adorned with worldly trinkets provides a central focal point surrounded by additional seating, above which is a beautiful mirror that reflects the rooms tranquil ambience.
The bedroom has more of a nature inspired vibe with differing hues of blues (which of course is right up my alley). Delicate floral wallpaper is broken up with Scottish artwork, dark antique furniture and soft lighting. The bed is large and comfortable, adorned with accessories which again exude that nature inspired design. I had one of the most comfortable sleeps and even though the hotel is located in a city centre location the noise level was at a minimum.
The suite is complemented by a spacious marble bathroom adorned with striking black and white photography of Scottish actor Sir Sean Connery, who officially reopened the hotel in 1991.
Of course you can’t stay at the Balmoral and not enjoy the delectable food and drink on offer at Brasserie Prince, located on the ground floor of the hotel. Brasserie Prince, serves seasonally inspired dishes combining Scottish produce with classic French cooking, overseen by Executive Chef, Gary Robinson.
Its colourful and vibrant interior of blues, greens and blush pinks exude a different feel to the rest of the hotel yet still emanates the same luxurious ambience and high level of service. Every time I dine at Brasserie Prince I always feel as if I’ve been transported to Europe. Being a frequent visitor to France, it almost emits the same atmosphere to the many chic brasseries that line the streets Paris.
During your stay you can also enjoy breakfast in the Brasserie, however also have the option of dining in the your room. Due to the exceptional views of Edinburgh and the size of my suite, I chose to enjoy my breakfast from the comfort of my own room. The menu was extremely extensive from continental options; cereals, fruit, pastries and cooked items with tasty vegan/vegetarian options.
As you wander through The Balmoral, there are many areas that take your breath away, with the stunning architecture, artwork and decor. Avoid the elevator and experience Its central stairway with impressive stain glassed windows and piano.
The central Palm Court provides an elegant and open space to enjoy the hotels award winning afternoon tea. The palatial room exudes sophistication with its central Venetian chandelier, green leafy palm trees and hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper. The menu offers an array of loose-leaf teas, fresh pastries, sandwiches, small savoury treats and of course champagne. From the balcony above, a live harpist adds to the opulent ambience of this court. I would even say that this is one of the best afternoon tea experiences in Scotland.
The Balmoral hotel was one of the first hotels I have stayed in since lockdown eased, therefore I was a tad dubious staying at such a large establishment. However, all staff adhered to guidelines by wearing masks, sanitiser was located throughout the hotel and rooms are thoroughly cleaned before any guest walks through its doors. These, along with its spacious rooms and public spaces, definitely made me feel more at ease during this uneasy time.
From the moment you walk through its elegant doors, The Balmoral hotel provides a truly enhancing experience to each and every one of its guests. The hotel manages to strike a perfect balance between providing a luxurious experience with a relaxed and laid back charm, which personally I adore. It’s friendly and approachable staff, first class facilities and central location all combine to create the ideal staycation. The Balmoral will always hold a special place in my heart as I have had many special moments there. It is a true hotel treasure that Edinburgh is blessed to have.
Blu Blazer Guy Rating
Location – 5/5 – Central City Location
Customer Service – 4.5/5 – Warm and Friendly.
Accommodation – 4.5/5 – Stylish, Comfortable and Luxurious
Cleanliness – 5/5 – Clean and Tidy and adhering to all covid guidelines
Food and Drink – 4.5/5 – An array of choices and good quality produce.