Having just won (September 2011) the best Scottish hotel award for the third year running, being named “Scotland’s leading hotel” at the World Travel Awards, you shouldn’t need much more persuading.
This luxury hotel is ideal for a special treat. Situated next to the station and right in the centre of the city, almost everywhere is just a short walk away. From the moment the liveried doorman takes your suitcase and you swish through the revolving wooden door to the lobby, you know you are heading somewhere special.
Opting for a king-size room may get you a commanding view over North Bridge and Arthur’s Seat. In any case, the bed is magnificent with a double layer of pillows and a light yet cosy duvet. A chaise longue at the foot and two further armchairs allows plenty of space for relaxing and reading. The bathroom is white and grey marble with a satisfying deep bath, ideal for a long soak. Two full size 1960s prints of Sean Connery adorn the walls. There’s a little retro seat and mirror for make up and drying of hair, the towel rail is heated; towelling robes, slippers and and REN toiletries await.
Despite being in the centre of a busy city, the rooms are remarkably quiet. Apart from an occasional distant wail of sirens, there was no noise at all, certainly not from the adjoining rooms.
If breakfast is included in your room rate, this may be taken in your room at no extra cost. And what a spread it is: served on a wheeled trolley with starched white tablecloth, heavy cutlery and bone china plates, the kitchen serves up whatever you fancy at a time to suit. Everything is kept warm in a little hotbox under the trolley.
Hidden discreetly away in the bowels of the hotel, it’s not immediately apparent that the Balmoral has a spa at all. An even bigger surprise is the pool – not Olympic size but big enough for a refreshing swim. A sauna and steam room are also available. If you are staying in a deluxe room, you may go to the spa via a private lift. This means you may wear your robe, pop in the lift and be taken straight down to the spa, without having to go through the lobby or reception area and without having to get changed and unchanged again. A relaxation room, help yourself drinks and numerous magazines encourage you to forget about work for once. The changing rooms are well -equipped with everything you might need – tissues, cotton wool, baby buds, hairdryer, shampoo, conditioner and even a spin dryer for your wet costume and a plastic bag to put it in when you have changed.
The ESPA intensive facial is highly recommended but there are many others from which to choose. The experienced operator will cleanse, exfoliate and massage your face, shoulders and neck before applying a mask. After a head massage, a mud pack will be applied to your hair. 55 minutes later, you will have softer feeling skin. You will need to wash your hair after the treatment; this is easy to do on site or you may wish to use the private lift to return discreetly to your room.
Guests having a treatment may use the spa facilities and gym.
You may want to eat in “number one”, that has kept its Michelin star for the ninth consecutive year (October 2011), but before that, a great place to meet is the Palm Court. Here, you may enjoy a glass of champagne, cocktail or single malt in the pretty room with glass dome, wooden parquet floor, real parlour palms, sparkling glass chandelier and flickering candles in the evening. Or invite a good friend for afternoon tea and enjoy a civilised drink and little sandwiches and pastries to the accompaniment of a pianist or harpist. Oozing atmosphere, it is pleasantly busy, so booking is advisable.
Princes Street 1, Edinburgh, UK
Cost standard double room: ££££
Services spa, swimming pool, fitness equipment, parking, hotel restaurant, hotel bar, room service, business services, internet access, concierge, air-conditioning
Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh