Five-star return as Balmoral Hotel reopens its doors

One of the Capital’s plushest hotels opens its doors today, signifying the next step for the city’s tourism industry as it continues its path towards recovery.

Richard Cooke - General Manager
Richard Cooke - General Manager

It was a sunny affair both inside and out as staff at Princes Street’s Balmoral Hotel woke the building from its four-month slumber to put the finishing touches on its reopening.

A breathtaking arrangement of flowers lines the five-star Edinburgh institution’s front steps to mark the occasion, something General Manager Richard Cooke hopes will bring a smile to the faces of passers-by.

He said: “I like to make people happy. I can’t do it every day, but my joy is in making people happy, so I hope and trust people of Edinburgh will venture out, not just to us, and find something that makes them smile. That’s why I put all these flowers out in front.”

Mr Cooke managed the hotel and a small number of staff full time during its four-month break from the tourism hustle.

In addition to keeping up with general building maintenance, such as running taps to prevent bacterial build-up in the water, small changes were made that would have been difficult in normal circumstances.

One such change involved the cleaning of a large dome on the ceiling of one of the main lounges.

He said: “It’s actually not that easy to do. We had to take all the furniture out and build scaffolding.

“There are some nice little things I got done. I had things painted that had been annoying me. The brass sign at the front of the door, the Balmoral sign, it’s been gilt again. It’s easier to do when you’re closed and don’t have guests walking in and out.”


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Each staff member has been trained and certified to Rocco Forte standards to ensure all safety measures are followed to the utmost degree. Guest rooms will be cleaned not once, but twice, over the course of the 24-hour period.

Mr Cooke said: “When someone checks out, my ladies and gentlemen will go and sanitise the room. They then leave it and go back to clean 24 hours later, then we sell it. So we leave the room unused for 24 hours.”

Opened in 1902, the world-renowned Balmoral Hotel is considered one of the city’s best hotels and has attracted a high calibre of famous guests down the decades, including Laurel and Hardy, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Paul and Linda McCartney.