In Edinburgh's charming Old Town, where medieval streets meet fortified walls, there's a majestic building topped by a 190-foot clock tower. Inside you'll find luxe rooms and elegant common areas warmed by original fireplaces and modern tartan decor. A hotel and local landmark since 1902 (when it served upscale rail travelers as the North British Hotel), the Balmoral prizes its traditions like sumptuous afternoon tea, a classic whisky bar, and a specialized Tartan Butler, who prepares family kilts and other historical information for guests of Scottish descent. Contemporary attractions include a Michelin-starred restaurant and Ayurvedic spa menu, but it's the sense of history and warm Scottish service that keep this place in the hearts of both visitors and locals. And the "history" here isn't just from the 20th century: author J.K. Rowling wrote the very end of her Harry Potter series in a suite at the hotel.
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