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Edinburgh - The Balmoral Hotel

How does a leading hotel in one of Scotland’s most attractive cities raise its status so that it itself becomes a landmark, in a place replete with them? A seven million pound refurbishment project does the job quite well.

With its idyllic location in the downtown core, across the street from the Waverley Train Station and a stretch of luxury department stores and boutiques near the foot of Princes Street, The Balmoral was always a hotel icon in the city from its inception in 1902 as the North British Hotel. When time began to dull its luster, Rocco Forte Hotels, which counts a number of luxury European hotels in its collection, including the Astoria in St. Petersburg, spent eighteen months renovating each of the hotel’s 188 rooms, The Sir Walter Scott Ballroom, seven conference and banquet suites, and the “number one” restaurant and Lobby. Every element of the initial prized design received a facelift, matching the hotel chain’s commitment to the finest details and to indulging their clients in a warm and creative atmosphere. Industry executives have noticed. With refurbished rooms and suites looking out onto The Old Town, Edinburgh Castle in the distance, or the ornate and peaceful rear courtyard of the hotel, The Balmoral itself feels like an emblem of the city’s medieval culture. Readers of Scotland Magazine agreed in the 2004 Icons of Scotland awards, naming the new Balmoral as one of the best reflections of Scottish culture in its Food and Drink category.

The honour, bestowed on the hotel, has Jeff Bland to thank, the executive chef at the Michelin-starred number one restaurant. Renowned by locals and a niche group of American visitors who stay exclusively at the Balmoral during their time, Bland’s creativity and passion for food has earned him a legion of dedicated diners and travellers. Even the country’s most acclaimed food and wine critic has called number one “dependable” and “classy.” Highlighted by fixed course menus for lunch and dinner that change daily, the energy and flair of Bland and his staff can be found in the flavours of each and every dish. On any given day, lunch might consist of a foie gras parfait with apple chutney, sea bream on crushed ratte potatoes and dressed with sauce verde, and fresh strawberries with a poached meringue. The dinner menu is similarly impressive. On a summer evening, start with a celery soup with spinach and ricotta ravioli, walnuts and chive oil, or a French rabbit loin in sweet corn custard. Mains include Gressingham duck breast with cumin-spiced butternut squash, loin of lamb with sweetbreads, and a fillet of sea bass with braised fennel and baby artichoke barigoule. Desserts are simply prepared and soft on the palate, and a fine selection of ports and a cheese plate bring the meal to a close. Also within the hotel, Hadrian’s, a stylish and informal brasserie, and The Bar at Palm Court, for tea, light snacks, and dim-lit evening entertainment, give the Balmoral experience some shape and texture.

Pre-renovation, rooms at the Balmoral were, as one would suppose them to be at a legendary hotel; exquisite, if a little cramped. Today, under the watchful eye of renovator Olga Polizzi’s refurbishments in the last 18 months, the rooms again glow with the traditions of Scotland, featuring colours and textures that open up the space. Earth tones reminiscent of the heathers and mists of the country are featured in the linens and other textiles in the room, while silks, wools, and leather fabrics accent the headboards and other furnishings. Artwork adds another layer to the Scottish thematics of the room, featuring prints of local artists, and spacious marble and ceramic bathrooms with terry cloth towels and robes head the list of luxury touches in the restroom.

With easy access to the wonders of the city, The Balmoral is a perfect starting point from which to explore the great city sights. Set in the shopping district overlooking Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town features stunning architecture that dates back to the 12th century. More than 20 golf courses around the city perimeter (and of course, hundreds more should one use to take a day trip with their clubs), a burgeoning theatre district in the west end, and the annual International Festival in the summertime are all reason enough to spend a few days in this charming city built in the volcanic hills. Should one ever lose their way touring about the downtown core and exploring the myriad of sights, one can simply search the skyline for the Balmoral clock tower, set two minutes fast so that guests and pedestrians do not miss their train out of Waverley station. The crown on this iconic hotel, after 18 months and seven million pounds later, the Balmoral is once again a landmark edifice in this ancient town.

Where to Stay

The Balmoral - - 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ Scotland
Tel: +44 131 556 2414 - Fax: +44 131 557 3747 - E-mail: 

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