Balmoral Hotel

The Balmoral
Location within Edinburgh city centre
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
Opened 1902
Owner Rocco Forte Hotels
Management Rocco Forte Hotels
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 Balmoral is a luxury five-star property and landmark in Edinburgh, Scotland. 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 in 1895,[1] the hotel originally opened on 15 October 1902. It was designed by architect William Hamilton Beattie and for most of the twentieth century was known as the North British Station Hotel or simply the N.B., a traditional railway hotel built for the North British Railway Company adjacent to their Waverley Station. The North British kept the same name until 1988 when the hotel closed for a major refurbishment.

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".

On 12 June 1991 Sir Sean Connery officially re-opened the hotel as The Balmoral, Gaelic for 'majestic dwelling', following a £23-million refurbishment. A plaque to commemorate the occasion appears in the hotel lobby beside the elevators.

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 Rocco Forte Hotels owned by Sir Rocco Forte.[2]

The Balmoral Clock

Since 1902, the hotel's clock has been set three minutes fast to ensure that the people of Edinburgh wouldn't miss their trains. This is still the case today. The only day that the clock runs on time is on 31 December (Hogmanay) for the city’s New Year celebrations. The clock tower, at 190 feet (58 m) high, forms a prominent landmark in Edinburgh's city centre.[3]


J.K. Rowling & Harry Potter

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 (552) on 11th Jan 2007".[4] The room has since been renamed the "J.K. Rowling Suite," and the marble bust has been placed in a glass display case to protect it. The suite, priced at nearly £1,000 per night, is a pilgrimage site for Harry Potter fans.[5]

Michael Palin

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.

Hallam Foe

The hotel is the fictional setting for a large portion of the 2007 Scottish film Hallam Foe, where the principal character beds down in the clock tower, and spies on his love interest in Cockburn Street.

Top Gear

In May 2009, The Balmoral Bar was the finishing point for the Top Gear 1949 themed race from London to Edinburgh. 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.


In October 2010, Oprah Winfrey filmed a one-hour episode of Oprah at The Balmoral. She interviewed J.K. Rowling from room 230, the Scone & Crombie Royal Suite.[6] Oprah asked J.K. Rowling: "Is there anything particularly here at this hotel where we are, that you thought would be particularly stimulating to your creative process?", to which J.K. Rowling replied: "It turned out to be stimulating. As I was finishing Deathly Hallows there came a day where the window cleaner came, the kids were at home, the dogs were barking and I could not work and this light bulb went on over my head and I thought, I can throw money at this problem. I can now solve this problem. For years and years and years I would just go to a cafe and sit in a different kind of noise and work. I thought I can go to a quiet place so I came to this hotel because it’s a beautiful hotel but I didn’t intend to stay here but they were so nice to me here and, I think writers can be a little bit superstitious and the first day of writing went well so I kept coming back to this hotel and I ended up finishing the last of the Harry Potter books in this hotel."[7]

Laurel & Hardy

In July 1932, American comedy duo Laurel and Hardy visited the North British Station Hotel as part of their visit to Edinburgh. Crowds gathered outside the hotel to catch a glimpse of the famous pair. Their visit was one of the earliest videos of the hotel captured on film.[8]


  1. Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh by Colin McWilliam
  2. "Iconic Balmoral hotel has hosted the great, the good and the glamorous for 110 years". Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  3. "Iconic Balmoral hotel has hosted the great, the good and the glamorous for 110 years". Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  4. "BOOK 7 completed". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-03.
  5. 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.
  6., retrieved 2015-10-27 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. "JK Rowling on the Oprah Winfrey Show in Edinburgh, ABC: US tv review". Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  8. "Full record for 'LAUREL AND HARDY VISIT EDINBURGH' (3659) - Moving Image Archive catalogue". Retrieved 2015-10-27.

External links

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

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