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Harry Potter Tour – J.K. Rowling’s Edinburgh Inspiration.

Harry Potter Tour – J.K. Rowling’s Edinburgh Inspiration.

The Edinburgh Collection | Harry Potter



Harry Potter may live between the spellbinding pages of J.K. Rowlings best-selling book series. However, walk around Edinburgh and you will soon feel like you too are walking in the same magical world. With all the unusual streets, wonderful buildings and other wizz-poppingly fantastic attributes. It is no wonder ‘Jo’ drew so much inspiration from the city.

Here is a list of a few places that inspired the famous books.


Harry Potter Edinburgh | Elephant House

J.K. Rowling used to come to The Elephant House cafe to pen her books, she would sit at the book where she was treated to a spectacular view of Edinburgh Castle which as you can probably imagine is a great view if you want to draw inspiration of a magical world.

Now, The Elephant Cafe is packed full of tourists wanting to soak in even just a drop of J.K. Rowlings life. To all you die hard fans. Yes, you can still sit in her table. If you want an idea of how many Harry Potter fans are drawn to this cafe – just look at the toilets.

Harry Potter Edinburgh | Toilet

Fans have graffiti-ed the toilets with all sorts of Harry Potter related scribbles. (images credit:


Harry Potter Edinburgh | George Heriots School

You probably already guessed which particular building J.K. Rowling used this magnificant building as inspiration. That’s right, Hogwarts was based on Sir George Heriot’s School (not of witchcraft and wizardry).

In addition to taking inspiration from the schools grand architechture. J.K. Rowling also modelled the famous Hogwart’s house system on the one in place at George Heriot’s. The schools houses are Castle, Lauriston, Raeburn and Greyfriars which aren’t too dissimilar to Rowling’s own Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. It’s borderline theft. However, I don’t believe that George Heriot’s school has a sorting hat.


Harry Potter Edinburgh | Tom Riddell Grave

No Harry Potter Tour would be complete without a visit to ‘He who shall not be named’. Just behind Hogwarts George Herriot’s School there is a famous graveyard called Greyfriars which houses many notable people including the famous dog who showed heartbreaking loyalty to it’s owner and also it houses the world most recorded poltergeist.

However, some people who stroll through the site (as J.K. Rowling herself used to do) you will find the grave of none-other than Thomas Riddell. The dark lord himself. J.K. Rowling used to take walks around the site to perhaps clear her head or maybe she went with the purpose to find great names from deceased people. What is know for sure is that she drew direct inspiration from this mans grave.


Harry Potter Tour | Victoria Street

There’s a street just below the Elephant Cafe and Greyfriars Kirkyard called Victoria Street in Grassmarket. Which when you see it, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture the bizarre Diagon alley. With it’s cobbled windy street and tall ornate buildings it’s no wonder J.K. Rowling decided to create a magical version of this street in her novels.

Harry Potter Edinburgh | Aha Ha Ha

AHA HA HA Jokes & Novelties lays at the foot of the street which perhaps played muse to the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. The shops actually used to have a sign in it’s window telling tourists that it wasn’t a real life version of the shop.


Harry Potter Edinburgh | Balmoral

Now as a hotel company ourselves, we don’t like to advertise other hotels. However, on this occassion it seems too crucial not to as it is the end of our Harry Potter Tour, and the end of Harry Potter itself.

In January 2007, J.K. Rowling checked herself into the Balmoral Hotel room 552 to be exact. It was in that room that she finished writing the famed Harry Potter series. Rumor has it that upon completion. She popped open a fizz-wizz bottle of champagne and enjoyed it (as you would) and finally she picked up a black marker pen and wrote ‘J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007.’ on a marble bust.

As a token of honor to the author and her time spent in their suite.  The Balmoral Hotel renamed the room the ‘J.K. Rowling suite.’ If you happen to be a particularly wealthy fan. You can stay in the room which has been kept in exactly the same condition as she left it, they have also added a brass owl door knocker. However, I think the bust is enclosed within a glass case now.

It will cost you £1,415 per night if you want to stay here.

If you want a view just as nice as the one J.K. Rowling enjoyed and also cheaper then stay at the Old Waverly Hotel where you can stay in a viewtiful room. Perhaps you can capture some of the same magic she did from this lovely city. book now.


If you have spare time and want to add a little extra magic to your Harry Potter Tour then here are some bonus thing to see.


Harry Potter Edinburgh | JK Hands

J.K. Rowling has been immortalised in Edinburgh’s City Chambers. Her name will obviously never be forgotten as it is written on the cover of billions of books. But now she has some golden hand prints too. J.K. Rowling became the second recipient of the Edinburgh Award in 2008. The award is given to Edinburghers and the winners have their hand prints installed in the City Chambers quadrangle.


While writing her famed series, J.K. Rowling attended the prestigious Edinburgh University. Right next to the university campus is a street named Potterrow during the 16th/17th century it was used for pottery stalls in the old town of Edinburgh. As a student, J.K. Rowling would have been well acquainted with the street, which no doubt served as an inspiration for the naming of her famous protagonist.