Review: The Balmoral, Edinburgh

Sophie Ritchie enjoys a stay of charming elegance at Edinburgh’s most iconic hotel 

On a gloriously sunny day, the city of Edinburgh does nothing but sparkle as its streets sway with the teeming bustle of curious tourists and fast-moving locals. I’m fortunate to arrive on such an occasion – the sun gleaming down on the iconic Balmoral building as I make my way from the busy station to its Princes Street doors.


Luckily for me (and those who hate a trek) the hotel’s entrance is about two minutes from my platform – with a handy porter ready and waiting to take my bags from me as I step off the train. There’s one word for easy arrivals such as this – dreamy.

Such a suave scene sets the tone immediately for a stay at The Balmoral. Here for a fleeting one night visit, I’ve crossed the Scottish border to dine in none other than the hotel’s special JK Rowling suite – plus sample the treats of the hotel’s newly launched Magical Experience package.

RFH The Balmoral - Suite #552 5677 Jul 17

Rowling actually completed her final book, The Deathly Hallows within the suite’s walls. Struck by writer’s block, she visited for a single afternoon and found inspiration – thus returned for several months until finished.

Launched to celebrate this, the new Potter-esque package offers anything but a naff or touristy gimmick. Any Harry Potter fan’s idea of bliss, the rather enchanting experience includes everything from a private walking tour of Edinburgh’s old town with Potter Trails to special Smoked Butter Beer cocktails and a Every Jell Bean cocktail trio served in The Balmoral Bar.

One swift check in later and I’m in my abode, one of the newly redesigned Super Deluxe Room with a castle view. Vast and elegant, I love the fairly simple yet luxurious decor. Think soft colour schemes, sleek grey carpet, beautiful lamps and a bathroom boasting seriously cool Sean Connery wall art.


Redesigned by Olga Polizzi herself as part of a multimillion pound project to restyle the hotel’s west wing (including the exclusive JK Rowling suite) Polizzi added a touch of Scottish woodland magic with sylvan blues, greens, greys, and purples – shades which create an exquisitely calm space.

As always, the little touches make all the difference – such as the bowl of plump fresh fruit and decadent chocolate gift – but it’s the window view across the city that steals the show. The clouds may have rolled in, but it’s still gorgeous to admire.

After settling in, it’s time for delicious Smoked Butter Beer cocktails served on the roof – which makes the previous window landscape I’d been admiring pale somewhat in comparison. Whilst the hotel may be splendid from top to bottom, it isn’t stuffy. Staff are friendly, inviting and standing atop of Edinburgh city, 400 miles from London, I feel quite at home.


Post-sky high aperitif, the J.K Rowling Suite awaits for our four-course feast. It’s a room that aims to impress, and the suite exudes charm – from the bust with Rowling’s secretly scrawled signature to the carved mirrors and tables featuring bronze branch-like legs.

RFH The Balmoral - Suite #552 5644 Jul 17

The meal is as easy to devour as it is to admire, and I especially enjoy the menu’s dish names – from Pea Royale with Magic Mushrooms to Heirloom Tomato Water with Basil from the Secret Herb Garden.

RFH The Balmoral - Suite #552 5765 Jul 17

Stuffed and spoiled, I return to my room to find a fluffy Bonnie the Owl mascot awaiting for me atop the perfectly made bed. It’s a finishing touch that rounds off my magical evening perfectly – mischief officially managed.

Make it happen
Guests who book The Magical Experience suite package will enjoy:
• A private walking tour of Edinburgh’s old town with Potter Trails
• Every Jell Bean cocktail trio in The Balmoral Bar:
• Sparkling Champagne Cocktail Jelly
• Bloody Mary Jelly with Celery Air
• Smoked Butter Beer
• A Bonnie the Owl turndown complete with snowy owl mascot
• A magical welcome amenity upon arrival

Price: The Magical Experience suite package starts from £2,500. The price for the Super Deluxe Rooms start from £450 per night for room only.
Where: 1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ
Bookings: Phone 0131 556 2414 or click here to book

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