Balmoral Hotel

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The Balmoral
Balmoral Hotel.jpg
General information
Location 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
Coordinates 55°57′10.33″N 3°11′22.23″W / 55.9528694°N 3.1895083°W / 55.9528694; -3.1895083
Opening 1902
Owner The Rocco Forte Collection
Management The Rocco Forte Collection
Other information
Number of rooms 188
Number of suites 20
Number of restaurants 2
Number of bars 2
Parking Valet parking
The Balmoral
North elevation, seen across Princes Street past the Iron Duke of Wellington in bronze by John Steell
The hotel from the south east, beyond Waverley Station which is under the North Bridge
A night view of the hotel from the Royal Mile

The Balmoral is a luxury five-star hotel and landmark in Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the North British Hotel until the late 1980s. It is located in the heart of the city at the east end of Princes Street, the main shopping street beneath the Edinburgh Castle rock, and the southern edge of the New Town.


Resulting from a competition of 1895,[1] the hotel originally opened in 1902. It was designed by architect William Hamilton Beattie and for most of the twentieth century was known as the North British Hotel or simply the N.B., a traditional railway hotel built for the North British Railway Company adjacent to their Waverley Station. It kept the same name until the late 1980s when it was renamed the Balmoral Hotel after refurbishment,[2] despite being located over 100 miles (160 km) south of Balmoral Castle.

For travellers arriving by train, the hotel provided comfortable and elegant lodgings, before they continued their journeys. To assist passengers in reaching their train on time, the hotel tower's clock, visible from a considerable distance away, is traditionally set to be three minutes fast. The clock tower, at 190 feet (58 m) high, forms a prominent landmark in Edinburgh's city centre. The building’s architecture is Victorian, influenced by the traditional Scottish baronial style. It was stripped of most of its ornamental stone balconies in its refurbishment, and while remaining ornate, is visibly "scarred".

Its traditional rival has always been the Caledonian Hotel at the west end of Princes Street; this was once the station hotel for the now-demolished Princes Street Station, on the Caledonian Railway.

The Balmoral is now part of The Rocco Forte Collection owned by Sir Rocco Forte.


Michael Palin stayed at the hotel in 1980, as part of his "Confessions of a Trainspotter" journey from London Euston to Kyle of Lochalsh for the BBC show Great Railway Journeys of the World. At this time the hotel was known as the North British.

In 2004 the BBC made the clock tower of the hotel the base of their villain, Toledo in the show Shoebox Zoo.

In February 2007 it was confirmed that author J. K. Rowling finished the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at this hotel. Rowling left a signed statement written on a marble bust of Hermes in her room saying; "JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (652) on 11th Jan 2007".[3] The room has since been renamed the "J.K. Rowling Suite," and the marble bust has been placed in a protective glass case to prevent theft. The suite, priced at nearly £1,000 per night, is a pilgrimage site for Harry Potter fans.[4]

The hotel is the setting for a large portion of the Scottish film Hallam Foe, where the principal character beds down in the clock tower, and spies on his love interest in Cockburn Street.

The hotel bar was the finishing point for the Top Gear 1949 themed race from London to Edinburgh in May 2009. Jeremy Clarkson travelled on LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado steam train, James May in a Jaguar XK120 and Richard Hammond on a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike. May won the race, with Clarkson coming second.


  1. ^ Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh by Colin McWilliam
  2. ^ Brewer's Britain & Ireland - Page 816 by John Ayto, Ian Crofton, Paul Cavill
  3. ^ "BOOK 7 completed". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Simon (20 July 2008). "Harry Potter fans pay £1,000 a night to stay in hotel room where JK Rowling finished series". The Daily Telegraph (London). 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°57′10.33″N 3°11′22.23″W / 55.9528694°N 3.1895083°W / 55.9528694; -3.1895083