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The Edinburgh Balmoral


Reading about the history of one of the world's great hotels is always fascinating. Here is the history of the world famous North British, now the Balmoral Hotel, in Edinburgh kindly provided by the Balmoral Hotel.

The Balmoral looking up from Princess StreetOld habits die hard. as the 1990's opened the Edinburgh Balmoral emerged from the scaffolding chrysalis which wrapped up the North British, but will be a long time before local people forget to call it the "NB".

The harsh fact is that the new name was not chosen for the sake of local people any more than the old one was. Thousands of visitors arriving in Edinburgh from all over the world will not think twice about it: they are looking for somewhere comfortable and recognisably Scottish right in the centre of the capital city. The new name marked a change of identity and, with a fascinating twist of fate, the ten story building at the east end of Princess Street once more became the flagship of a growing business empire. The hotel reopened with a pioneering spirit which echoed the original opening of the North British almost 90 years ago. Then it was a curiously low-key affair. On Wednesday 15 October 1902 a small advertisement appeared on the front page of the Scotsman:

"North British Station Hotel
This hotel in direct communication with Waverley Station is now open F.T. Burcher, hotel manager"

That was all. On the Edinburgh Stock Market North British Railway shares dropped 1s 3d and two days later rose by 17s 6d. Otherwise the city does not seem to have paid undue attention to its precocious new landmark, the only residential building ever erected on the south side of Princes Street. The Lord Provost's Committee had even turned down the architect's request for a marquee in front of the entrance hall.

But that hardly mattered. The opening of the hotel was advertised not only in the Scotsman but in newspapers and journals across Europe and beyond. The North British Hotel was a vanguard for the railway company which built it, a surrogate for the grand station they had never been permitted to erect in the sensitive site between the Old and New Town. The name itself symbolises such driving ambition.

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