* Prices may differ from that shown
I have only ever been here once, it was 3 years ago for my honeymoon. It was the best hotel I have ever stayed in! Okay, okay it is very VERY expensive, which is why I have only been once, I stayed in one of the classic suites and we had dinner included in Hadrian's, the brasserie attached to the hotel. Altogether, the bill came to £350, however I do believe it was worth it. I have never stayed in a 5* hotel before and so the etiquete was all new to me, however, they do say that you get what you pay for and that is very true here. The experience began with vallet parking, which does cost £10 which is a little cheeky I thought, until you consider parking in Edinburgh! We walked in to a beautiful lobby and booked in. We were shown to our suite and it was all we could do not to scream....the suite was amazing! We had to bathrooms, massive bedroom and dressing room, a massive bathroom....truely delightful and beautifully decorated and furnished. From that moment on it was like a fairy tale! The customer service is amazing, for example, the doorman, bearing in mind it was only the second time he had seen us, as we walked out addressed us by our name!!! We were treated to a champagne and strwberry afternoon treat compliments of the hotel! On the balance of fairness, the only fault I could find is that because it is just expected that you should be used to that kind of service, things were not explained fully, for instance, the included meal had a limit of £25, however, not being told that we soon ran over that figure. Barring that, if you are planning a special night away, this hotel will leave you with memories that you will never forget.
The Balmoral in Edinburgh is the third (and final) of the United Kingdom Rocco Forte Hotels that we have stayed in over the past year. We very much looked forward to seeing what the hotel group has done with an existing landmark hotel, as opposed to the purpose built and modern properties in Manchester and Cardiff. The Balmoral is situated at one end of Princes Street, the most convenient for Waverley Station, steps away from the shops and a short walk across North Bridge to the attractions around the Royal Mile. We booked our room through Leading Hotels of the World, at a rate of £149 for a superior room including breakfast, morning paper and use of the spa. This was for a midweek stay, and so represented good value for money, compared to the rack rate. I e-mailed the hotel a couple of times before our stay to make enquiries and book a table in the restaurant, and as always seems the case with Rocco Forte Hotels, (whom you get the impression don't give great priority to e-mails) although the responses were not particularly swift, they were efficient and helpful. On approaching the hotel by car, you can usually park outside the front door, from where one of the extremely helpful doormen will descend upon you to unload your bags and park your car. The valet parking is at a cost of £15 a night, and so is fairly representative of city centre hotel valet parking. We were taken into the lobby and introduced by name to the check in agent, which was a very nice touch. Our reservation was quickly found, and our dinner reservation, formally confirmed in writing, was presented to us. We were told we had been given a very nice room overlooking the castle, but that it would not be ready for a few minutes. We were asked if we would like to take complimentary afternoon tea in the Palm Court while we waited, which we initially said we would. On second thoughts we decided to go out for a walk, as we had intended to do after checking in, as it wa s a sunny Edinburgh day. When we returned we were told our room was ready, but waiting to be released, and we took a seat for a few minutes. The check in agent then came to take us personally up to our room. This is something that we know is one of the Rocco Forte signature touches, but on the other two occasions we have not actually been shown to our room. The public areas of the hotel are intimate and have the landmark hotel atmosphere that is often diluted by the sheer size of some landmark hotels we are familiar with in Canada - the lifts aren't cavernous for example. The corridors are testament to the recent refurbishment of the hotel by Rocco Forte, and achieve a good balance between the modern style synonymous with RF and the traditional colours and style of a Scottish landmark hotel. I also liked the little touch of a traditional key to open the bedroom door. Our room was large by typical UK hotel standards and seemed even larger because of the square bedroom space, without the usual narrow corridor leading into the room. The room had a walk in closet and bathroom off the main square room, and this also contributed to the room appearing of ample proportion. The window looked out across the City with Princes Street stretching into the distance and a great view towards the castle. The room was in varying tones of green with a dark green carpet, headboard and traditional style velvet curtains. The two chairs near the window were covered in a light green and cream striped fabric and the bed had a plain white bedspread. The wooden TV unit was painted in a subtle light green shade and the other plain wood furniture included a large dressing table and TV unit. The bed was not huge, and with the size of room, we may have preferred a king size. In front of the window were a table and two armchairs. The room had high ceilings, with traditional prints on the wall and had a feeling of space. The bathroom, off the bedroom sp ace was also large with two high arched windows, and marble topped vanity area. The bath, as you would expect from an older hotel, had shower above - as opposed to a separate cubicle, which is common with the new RF hotels. The in room amenities included most of what you might require - a proper hairdryer (not the hotel kind!), trouser press (although no iron and board), minibar, three telephones, and air conditioning (although on a warm March day, this didn't seem to have been programmed correctly). When the receptionist had left the room we noticed that my husband had been left a birthday cake. We were very surprised by this, and it only added to the feeling that with Rocco Forte Hotels, great attention to detail is common and recognising the individual needs of guests. In the room was also a bowl of fruit and mineral water, which is always a nice touch. The hotel has a leisure club, which includes a large pool (perhaps not enough of a shallow end for poor swimmers like ourselves!). Adjacent to the pool is a unisex sauna and steam room. I thought this was a much better idea than having them tucked away off the changing rooms, as you and your partner can go in at the same time. In the evening we visited the Palm Court for cocktails. The Palm Court is an impressive room with a high ceiling, but is surprisingly compact. The service was fairly quick, and we chose from the cocktail menu which had a good combination of classic and signature cocktails. My husband chose a Bellini and myself another version of champagne cocktail with benedictine and Grand Marnier. Both were extremely good, and Rocco Forte hotels do generally seem to do cocktails very well! At around £7.50 they were reasonably priced. After our cocktails we dined in Hadrian's, the second restaurant in the hotel. It is very much in the mould of other high-end contemporary bistro restaurants, with light décor and a relaxed ambience. The hotel also has another restaurant, Number One, which serves a more traditional menu. For starter my husband ordered the Moules Mariniere and I chose the Baked Goats Cheese on Bruschetta. Both were very good for this type of restaurant, which often disappoints - being more concerned with style than substance. My only slight criticism is that the goats cheese was barely warm, and could have benefited from being baked a little longer! For main course I chose the Chicken in Red Wine with Mash, Baby Onions and Fine Beans. My main course was very well constructed and the flavours worked perfectly. It was one of my favourite restaurant chicken dishes. My husband, who chose the fillet steak, was also pleased with the quality and standard of the dish. The service was swift, perhaps a little too swift between courses, and very professional. The restaurant also has a good wine list, where we were surprised and pleased to find a Canadian wine. This was only the second time we have found a restaurant bold enough to try something a bit different, and the Mission Hill Pinot Blanc well deserved its place on the menu. For dessert my husband chose the baked Alaska, and sadly we were not brought two spoons (!). He did not comment on his dessert particularly, but from my observations, I personally would have been disappointed with the dish. The baked Alaska appeared to fulfil its definition, just, but the block of ice cream inside was rock hard, and the meringue on the outside seemed barely touched with heat, and seemed to have the consistency of raw meringue mix. It was vaguely apparent that a blowtorch had been wafted over the dessert, but I felt disappointed that the restaurant (being bold enough to put such a retro dish on the menu in the first place) couldn't execute it better. The meal in total came to around £70 which we thought very good value for the style and type of restaurant. Next morning the breakfast was also served in Hadrian' s and this consisted of a buffet style service for continental items, ranging from muffins, danishes, yoghurts and fruit to cheese, cold meats and smoked salmon. The cooked breakfasts, of which there were various types of traditional cooked, and also lighter items such as scotch pancakes with maple syrup, were brought to your table. We checked out of the hotel, with no problem or query - what a nice feeling to be confident the bill will be right! Our luggage was taken from us, and we waited outside for our car to be brought round. We had totally enjoyed our stay, and felt pleased that Rocco Forte Hotels had once again come up with the goods, even without the understated elegance of their ultra modern hotels. The hotel, despite its age, manages to be in the same league as its two sister hotels in the UK, and its shortcomings, which are few and trivial can be put down to its landmark status, and tend to only add to its charm. The location is unbeatable, the service fantastic and the whole experience is a pleasant one.
I have never actually stayed in the Balmoral, but I have been there plenty of times for tea and functions. The tea room is comfortable and the service is impeccable, with delicious teas and cakes etc. Function room facilities are fantastic if you want to do a presentation, seminar or conference of some kind. I have been in one of the rooms before and I must admit the provisions are great. Comfortable beds, TV, imternet access all the mod cons you would hope for or need as well as great service, room service, information, telephone, messages etc. Highly recommended to anyone visiting the city because aside from its great location by Prince's street, it will be a holiday to remember, but be prepared to pay a good 120 pounds for a double room, and I would also advise you avoid the brasserie... it is cheaper than the restaurant, but it did almost poison me the 2 times I've been there, so treat yourself to fine dinner in the restaurant if you intend to eat in the hotel... although there are many fantastic restaurants in town: Fisher's for good fish in Leith, Est Est Est for good italian food on Geroge Street, or even the Witchery behind the castle for a seriously good Scottish dinner. Enjoy!!