With a magnificent structure dominating a striking cityscape of dramatic Old Town and glorious Georgian New Town and a 195 feet clock tower, set three minutes fast, the Balmoral is as much a part of the city’s unmistakable landscape as its neighbour, Edinburgh Castle.
At number 1 Princes Street, amid Edinburgh’s pulsating shopping district, the city centre’s main thoroughfare and adjacent to Waverley Station, is situated the Balmoral Hotel. With a magnificent structure dominating a striking cityscape of dramatic Old Town and glorious Georgian New Town and a 195 feet clock tower, set three minutes fast, the Balmoral is as much a part of the city’s unmistakable landscape as its neighbour, Edinburgh Castle.
Before it became the elegant Balmoral Hotel, this was a site occupied from 1796 by Edinburgh’s first proper hotel, the Fortunes Tontine Tavern. This marked the spot where travellers of the endless Edinburgh to London A1 road began and finished up. Back in those days the thought of commuting couldn’t have been further from even the hardiest of travellers’ minds. A straightforward ramble by coach and horse down to London from here would steal four days from what in those days tended to be a less than long life.
The Balmoral took over from the North British Hotel, a railway station hotel going by the same name as the railway. Rail travel knocked the coach and horses mode of transport off its post by a long chalk. Cutting the Edinburgh to London journey down to half a day produced an increase in visitors to the area, many of which requiring suitable and convenient accommodation. The North British Hotel consequently sprung up at the turn of the twentieth century swapping its name, fixtures and fittings in the eighties for those that are currently savoured at the Balmoral Hotel.
Why was it called the Balmoral Hotel when Balmoral Castle is situated over a hundred miles from Edinburgh city centre? Popular opinion regarding this seems to be that the name Balmoral was chosen because it was a proper Scottish name and one that expertly conveyed a sense of elegance and old baronial charm.
Patrons of the Balmoral Hotel are treated to the convenience of easy access up to the hotel’s cosy inner sanctum. Guests can enter the hotel directly from Waverley Station via a carefully considered lift location.
Fans of the Harry Potter chronicles will be intrigued to discover J.K.Rowling completed the final book from the series at the Balmoral Hotel. The author left her calling card in the form of a signed statement confirming this fact upon the bust of Hermes in her hotel room. The statement reads “JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (652) on 11th January 2007”. If this doesn’t attract additional clientele to the hotel, I don’t know what will! (Not that they need the business, this is one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious lodging houses).