01 January 2013

Press Release

EDINBURGH’S ICONIC LANDMARK HOTEL CELEBRATES 110 YEARS AT THE CAPITAL’S MOST PRESTIGOUS ADDRESS

Throughout 2013, The Balmoral, Edinburgh’s beloved ‘Grande Dame’, is celebrating its 110th anniversary with newly refurbished guest bedrooms, a dedicated ‘110 Year Celebration’ package and series of events and activities, marking the past 11 decades.   

Immersed in the city’s soul for over a century, the hotel has gone from strength to strength since it first opened its doors in 1902. Over the past 15 years, it has undergone a series of refurbishments with Rocco Forte Hotels at the helm, most recently with a three year soft refurbishment project of all its bedrooms and bathrooms which was completed in 2012.

The Balmoral opened as the North British Station Hotel, described by the architects as ‘a free rendering of the Renaissance period’. Taking its place on the Edinburgh skyline in the heart of the city, the hotel linked the Scottish architecture of the Old Town with the classical architecture of the New Town.

The hotel’s roots were quite literally in the railway with a dedicated entrance from Waverley Station to the hotel. The iconic clock tower was set three minutes fast to allow travelers to catch their trains - a tradition which has remained to this day with the exception of Hogmanay for the city’s New Year street party.

The North British Railway Company owned the property for over 80 years until it was sold in 1983 to The Gleneagles Hotel Company. In 1990 Balmoral International Hotels purchased the building and closed the doors for over a year to complete a £23-million refurbishment. The company recaptured the splendor of the hotel and invited Sir Sean Connery to cut the ribbon on the official re-opening of newly named hotel ‘The Balmoral’ - meaning ‘majestic dwelling’ in Gaelic.

On 1st March 1997, Sir Rocco Forte purchased The Balmoral as the first in his new collection of luxury five star hotels. The location held a strong connection to the Forte family with Sir Rocco’s father, Lord Forte, spending most of his childhood in Scotland.

Over the years, a regular stream of royalty, film stars, sports and music personalities, politicians and literary figures visited the hotel including The Queen Mother, Laurel and Hardy, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul and Linda McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Luciano Pavarotti, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and JK Rowling.

Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte Hotels’ Director of Design, took inspiration for the interior of the newly refurbished rooms from the earthy colours of the moors, mists and heathers associated with the Scottish countryside. Stylish new Italian marble bathrooms have also been fitted to all 188 bedrooms, many featuring iconic Sir Sean Connery prints from the 1962 James Bond film ‘Dr No’ – a nod to the ‘Freeman of the City’ who opened the hotel in the early 90s.

Commenting on the milestone anniversary, The Balmoral’s General Manager Franck Arnold, said: “As we start our 110th year at The Balmoral, we celebrate the past 11 decades of this iconic Edinburgh institution. From award-winning afternoon tea at Palm Court to Michelin-starred dining at number one and the finest of accommodation and entertainment, The Balmoral offers timeless luxury and warm Scottish hospitality to all our visitors.

“As custodians of The Balmoral we will continue to offer memorable experiences for our guests and uphold the legacy that has been created to this day by the staff who work here, the guests who visit us and the people of Edinburgh who have embraced the hotel as their own.”

The 110 Year Celebration Package is available throughout 2013.  Prices start from £295 per night based on two people sharing a Classic Bedroom on a B&B basis and include:

-       Complimentary upgrade to a Castle View Room*

-       Bottle of Champagne upon arrival

 

To book or for more information, contact reservations.balmoral@roccofortehotels.com, quoting ‘110 celebration’