Palace of Holyroodhouse

Her Majesty the Queen's official home in Edinburgh

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Discover Palace of Holyroodhouse the official Scottish residence of Her Majesty the Queen. Holyroodhouse is situated at the end of the Royal Mile and visible from Arthur's Seat. Tapestries, paintings and elaborate plasterwork adorn the staterooms. 

See the Throne Room, the Great Gallery and of course – Mary, Queen of Scots' private apartments. It was the outer chamber of the Queen's bedchamber where the Queen’s private secretary, David Rizzio met his unfortunate end. 

Adjacent to the house is Holyrood Abbey which was founded in 1128. The structure is all but a ruin but still a peaceful and romantic place to walk around. Many artists and writers have been inspired by its architecture which encapsulates centuries of history. The palace is opposite the Scottish Parliament and a stone's throw from St Giles Cathedral. Enjoy a private tour of Royal Mile and visit Holyroodhouse.

The official residence of the Queen

The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Monastic origins
King James V commissioned the imposing Holyroodhouse in 1529. The origins of this grand residence can be traced back to an Abbey, founded in 1128. Still, it wasn't until a major building programme by that indefatigable builder, Charles II, in the 1670s, that it started to take shape. 

The merry monarch
Charles II commissioned much of the interior of the Palace. Particularly noteworthy are the Royal Apartments that include the Throne Room and Dining Room, used to stage investitures and banquets. The Royal Portrait Gallery consists of some 110 paintings by James de Witt, featuring all the Scottish kings and queens. This display allows your guide to explain the history of Scotland and the Scottish Kings and Queens. 

Mary Queen of the Scots
Of all these monarchs, James V's daughter, the Mary Queen of Scots story is perhaps best known. Her private apartments are adjacent to the picture gallery. Within these rooms, she witnessed the murder of her trusted friend, David Rizzo, by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley. A year later, Darnley met his end; his house destroyed by two barrels of gun powder. Queen Mary became the obvious suspect, and a rebellion ensued. 

Mary fled to England seeking the protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. The safety she hoped for was not forthcoming. Queen Mary plotted to overthrow Elizabeth and seize England's throne and return England and Scotland to Christianity's to the Catholic version.   

Plotting Queen Mary
The Government incarcerated Queen Mary for 20 years at various castles and manor houses around England. Elizabeth, learning of Mary's plotting and fearing her as a serious rival, reluctantly, but had little choice, ordered her execution. On the 8th February 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle. Please note, the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots is in Westminster Abbey, London. 

Please be aware there are changing art exhibitions at Holyroodhouse which may encourage a longer visit.  

Walking tour of the The Royal Mile
Four ancient streets comprised the main thoroughfare of medieval Edinburgh. The city wall limited the city's spread, which grew upwards with some of the buildings reaching 20 storeys. Visitors cannot fail to sense the city's medieval past when Exploring the many alleys and closes off the main street. Particularly noteworthy and well worth a visit are:

Gladstone's Land - a 17th-century merchant's house that still has the original arcade booths and a painted ceiling.

St Giles Cathedral - features a magnificent rib-vaulted ceiling and an angel playing the bagpipes.

Parliament House - home to the Court of Session and the Supreme Court, it features a magnificent stained-glass window in the Great Hall.

John Knox's House - dates from 1490 and is the oldest house in the city. He was a fiery preacher and a staunch Protestant. He led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland and the formation of the Presbyterian church in 1560.

Grassmarket - An historic site directly below Edinburgh Castle, it is Edinburgh's central marketplace and, for a long time, was also a place of execution with a memorial marking the site of the gibbet. A remarkable story concerns a fishwife called Maggie Dickson. Accused of murdering her illegitimate baby, she was sentenced to hang. The sentence was carried out, but noises were heard coming from her coffin on the way to her burial. Having been declared dead by a doctor, she avoided a second hanging and lived for a further 40 years. A pub in Grassmarket bears her name. 

Old and New Town
It is often described as one of Europe's most handsome capitals. It is impossible not to be enchanted by this historic city with its delightful mix of medieval and Georgian districts. The Old Town is the location for pleasant medieval streets and alleys. Simultaneously, the wealthy merchants' influence is apparent in the New Town area's fine Georgian buildings. 

Touring and accommodation
Edinburgh features in most of our suggested Private Tours of Scotland. Our suggested classic tour of Edinburgh includes Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle perched high on an extinct volcano above the town.

We have created various itineraries available to book off-the-shelf, or our Tour-Designers can customise a tour based on your interests and accommodation needs. Please use our Touring Guide for inspiration. For your information, our Family Tour of Scotland is ideal for families with young or older children; we can adjust the activities accordingly. Our Whisky, Golf and Culture itinerary is great for a group of adults or older multi-generational families. Please browse our Private Tours of Scotland

Edinburgh is an immensely popular destination and has a wide variety of accommodation to suit all budgets and styles. In Britain, luxury town-house hotels are favoured by visitors who want to be part of a neighbourhood and also have high-end bars and restaurants when needed. The Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel fits the bill here. Those who want a view of Edinburgh Castle and experience a grand city centre hotel, look no further than the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel. There are many options we can explore to match your requirements; please contact us for details.

Lavish Palace and Romantic Abbey

HM the Queen's Official Palace in Scotland for State Ceremonies

  • See Fourteen State Rooms
  • Home of Mary Queen of Scots
  • Regular Exhibitions
  • Ten acres of Gardens
  • VIP Tours Available