Where is it? The Balmoral is in the heart of Edinburgh's main shopping area. A few blocks away are the cobblestoned lanes of the city's old town and the historic buildings of the Royal Mile. Many of the guestrooms have stunning views of the city skyline and Edinburgh Castle, the top tourist attraction, which is perched regally above the Scottish capital. What's so special about it? The place is unashamedly Scottish, with doormen dressed in kilt, sporran, brogues and jacket. Add to that the grand building and its majestic clock tower, which is a central feature of Edinburgh's skyline. The building dates from 1902, when it was known as the North British Station Hotel and hosted rail travellers. What's the ambience like? In a stylish combination of historic and contemporary, rooms are decorated in soft greens and creams punctuated by earthy colours. Curtains, cushions and cosy armchairs use natural fabrics such as linen, silk, wool and leather, and contemporary furnishings are highlighted by the occasional antique piece. Scottish oil paintings, marble fireplaces and designer blankets by Johnston's of Elgin add to the decor. Modern extras such as broadband internet access and flat-screen television sets are the result of a major refurbishment completed in 2004. What's on the menu? The hotel's fine-dining restaurant, Number One, is Edinburgh's only Michelin-starred hotel eatery. Chef Jeff Bland uses the finest, freshest local ingredients while sommelier Sam Aitken is a whiz at matching wines and dishes. Afternoon tea in the Bollinger Bar or the Drawing Room is an institution, with intriguing-sounding options such as the Tartan Tea and the Chocolate Dream. Scottish breakfasts are enormous and hearty. What is there to do? One of the world's most spectacular shows, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, is held at the castle every August; book the Balmoral well in advance if you plan to attend. The show is regularly watched by 100 million television viewers around the world on the following New Year's Day; on January 1, millions of viewers in China will be able to enjoy the spectacle for the first time. International performers include 60 teenage martial-arts students from the Jiangxi Xishan International School, who put on a dazzling kung fu show. Anything else we should know? Try the Balmoral Whisky Experience. Among other goodies, guests receive a three-course dinner, a whisky tasting and chauffeured transfers to Glenkinchie Distillery, south of Edinburgh. Another popular package is the Da Vinci Code Experience, which includes a champagne picnic at Rosslyn Chapel. The Balmoral Spa offers a range of treatments. What's the bottom line? Rooms start at GBP320 (HK$4,860) a night. A three-course dinner at Number One costs GBP55. The Balmoral is at 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, tel: 44 131 556 2414. See www.roccofortehotels.com .