Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (that’s Scottish for "New Year’s Eve") is one of the world’s biggest celebrations, with the party stretching over three full days. Many of the festivities — concerts, fireworks, torchlight processions — are held outdoors, in the frosty Scottish winter while in the close company of about 150,000 strangers. If that sort of chaotic environment does not appeal to your elevated travel palate, here’s how to do Hogmanay in pure luxury instead.
1. Hogmanay Gala Ball at the Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel
The Balmoral will be hosting a glamorous black-tie Hogmanay Gala Ball this year. The night will feature the distinctive sounds of the Royal Burgh of Stirling Pipe Band, champagne and canapes, a performance by a jazz trio, and traditional Highland dancers. A grand four-course dinner will be served in the hotel’s Sir Walter Scott Suite. Then guests will dance the night away at a traditional ceilidh, pausing only to toast the New Year with unparalleled views of the fireworks exploding over Edinburgh Castle while the ceilidh band leads a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne." (Cost: £265 or $400 per person)
2. The Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel
On the opposite end of Princes Street to the Balmoral, the Waldorf Astoria offers a special Hogmanay two-night package, which includes access to their famous Hogmanay Ball — dress code: black tie or Highland dress. Guests can view the fireworks and sing along to "Auld Lang Syne" in the elegant Castle Suite with perfectly framed views of Edinburgh Castle and a glass of champagne in hand. Dinner is led by the hotel’s renowned toastmaster and includes a classically Scottish piper’s welcome, “toast to the haggis,” ceilidh dancing, and live music. Hearty Scottish breakfasts are included in the two-night package but if even that doesn’t fully cut the hangover, you can refresh and renew at the Guerlain Spa afterward. (Cost: £650 or $990)
3. The Forth Floor at Harvey Nichols
Harvey Nichols, the Edinburgh outpost of the esteemed London department store, is the place to shop in the city and its Forth Floor restaurant (named for its expansive views across the River Forth) is one of the hottest tables. Harvey Nics is throwing its own black tie Hogmanay party this year, and it might be Edinburgh’s most stylish. A five-course dinner is served with paired wines, and there will be champagne and bagpipes upon arrival, live music, and a late night buffet to re-energize those dancing all night long. Alas, this party is already sold out, but the waiting list is still open. Fingers crossed! (Cost: £195 or $297 per person)
4. Royal Botanic Garden
A wee bit out of the busy center but still offering outstanding views of the fireworks, Hogmanay at the Royal Botanic Gardens means celebrating the big night in a lush setting of lavish gardens and greenhouses. A five-course dinner will be served at the John Hope Gateway Restaurant and there will be a midnight toast, a piper, and in-house DJ to keep you dancing into the wee hours. (Cost: £95 or $145)
5. One Spa at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa
The “Loony Dook” on January 1 is an Edinburgh tradition that involves dressing up in costume and plunging into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth, beneath the iconic Forth rail bridge. A far preferable way to freshen up the morning after is with a visit to One Spa at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, one of the best in the city. Rejuvenate with a treatment, immerse yourself in the rooftop hydropool or swim a few laps in the infinity pool. The hotel’s One Square restaurant and bar will also host a lunch buffet on new year’s day (£40 or $60). Note for those not giving up alcohol for new year: The bar is home to one of the city’s largest gin collections!
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