Inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse—the Queen’s official Scottish home

We've covered everything you need to know about the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland

: Ionut David / Alamy Stock Photo
(Image credit: Ionut David / Alamy Stock Photo)

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is often overshadowed by the Queen's royal residences in England—and it's about time that changed. 


From Sandringham House in Norfolk to Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, it can be hard to keep up with the Queen's extensive collection of property. Her Majesty has royal dwellings dotted all over the UK, most of which she spends minimal time in. One of her least frequented homes is the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, also known as her official Scottish residence. The British monarch typically stays in the historic building for just one week a year, before moving on to her second home in Scotland, Balmoral Castle

Despite rarely hosting the Royal Family, Holyroodhouse is still a major attraction for tourists and locals alike. We've taken a closer look at its history to find out just what this iconic palace is all about—and if it's worth stopping by on your next trip to one of the friendliest cities in the UK.

Where is the Palace of Holyroodhouse?  

The Palace of Holyroodhouse sits at the tip of the Royal Mile, the Scottish capital's most famous street. Less than a 20 minute walk away, on the other end of the street, you can find Edinburgh Castle, an 11th-century fortress with some breathtaking city views. The entire district is a magnet for royal fans, promising an abundance of glimpses into the British monarchy's historical and cultural impact on Scotland. 

Aerial view of Holyrood palace, 1671-1679, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, 17th century.

(Image credit: DEA / M. BORCHI / Getty)

How do you pronounce Holyroodhouse? 

Before moving onto the nitty-gritty of the Queen's Scottish residence, it's important to nail its pronunciation. Holyroodhouse sounds like 'Holly-rood-house' when said aloud, as if you're referring to the prickly Christmas decoration. 

A brief history of the Palace of Holyroodhouse 

Often shortened to 'Holyroodhouse', this iconic property dates all the way back to the 12th century. 

It wasn't always a plush palace though. The very first building to grace the site was actually a small Augustinian abbey, which was created in 1128 by David I, the King of Scotland. As time went on, more monastic buildings were added to accommodate the community's large population. These chambers were used by the king himself, who was known for his strong Christian faith and religious reform. 

Fast-forward nearly 400 years and you'll find the very first Palace of Holyroodhouse. The chambers were converted by James VI, a presumably less religious king, to create a luxurious home for him and his new wife, Margaret Tudor. 

Unfortunately, none of the original extensions have survived today. Over the next 100 years, the palace was hit with a series of challenges, including a destructive fire. It underwent an extensive makeover between 1671 and 1674 after the reigning king, Charles II, enlisted a high-skilled architect to restore its beauty. With the exception of some modern renovations in recent centuries (central heating is always a good idea), the palace has remained largely unchanged since 1679. 

The Ancient Royal Palace of Holyrood. Edinburgh', mid 19th century. Military parade in front of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Palace of Holyroodhouse was founded as a monastery in 1128. It served as the principal residence of the kings and queens of Scotland from the 15th century. The palace in its present form dates from the reign of Charles II who had it rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire when Oliver Cromwell and his troops visited Edinburgh in 1650. Artist Unknown. (Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Print Collector/Getty Images)

How much is the Palace of Holyroodhouse worth? 

The value of the Palace of Holyroodhouse remains unknown, and as an official royal residence, it's unlikely to go on the market any time soon. And even if it did, it would only be available to the mega-wealthy of society. The Royal Family's real estate net worth is estimated to clock in at $18 billion, with Buckingham Palace worth about $5 billion alone. 

Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Buckingham Palace is estimated to be worth $5 billion 

(Image credit: Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Who lives at Holyroodhouse? 

While it's technically the Queen's official Scottish residence, Holyroodhouse doesn't see much of Her Majesty throughout the year. The busy monarch visits the palace every summer to host various royal engagements, but rarely stays longer than a week. During this trip, which usually occurs between the end of June and the beginning of July, Holyroodhouse is off-limits to the public. 

The Queen's children also stay at the residence from time to time, with Prince Charles checking in for one week every year. The heir holds fond childhood memories of Holyroodhouse, having performed his very first royal duty there in June 1965. At just 16, Prince Charles greeted hundreds of young Scottish and Commonwealth students at a summer garden party at the extravagant house. The public engagement marked the start of his hectic royal career, which is set to get only busier when he assumes the throne after the Queen's death. 

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 5: Queen Elizabeth II meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an audience at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

(Image credit: Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

What is it like inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse? 

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is exactly what you'd expect—palatial. 

Its outside grounds include beautifully manicured gardens, a large castle yard, an ornate foundation, and a memorial statue to Edward VII. 

The fairytale vibe continues inside, where you'll find a dining room set for thirty, a throne room bedecked with royal portraits, and a morning drawing-room wall-to-wall in French tapestries. Visitors are also free to explore the King's sleeping chamber, which features a red four-poster bed and an ornate fireplace. 

If that wasn't enough to tickle your royal itch, there's also a spacious gallery and an elaborately decorated staircase. 

Holyroodhouse

 Dining Room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse

(Image credit: PA/Alamy)

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 2: Queen Elizabeth II waits for the arrival of Scottish First minister Alex Salmond for an audience at the Palace of Holyrood House on July 2, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Queen has several engagements on her annual week in Scotland. (Photo by David Cheskin - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 2013 

(Image credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images)

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 16: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh walk with Pope Benedict XVI to the Morning Drawing Room in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, on September 16, 2010 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Pope Benedict XVI is conducting the first state visit to the UK by a Pontiff. During the four day visit Pope Benedict will celebrate mass, conduct a prayer vigil as well as beatify Cardinal Newman at an open air mass in Cofton Park. His Holiness will meet The Queen as well as political and religious representatives. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh walk with Pope Benedict XVI to the Morning Drawing Room in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, on September 16, 2010 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Is The Palace of Holyroodhouse open to the public?

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is finally open to the public again and tickets cost £16.50 for adults. The ticket includes a multimedia guide that allows visitors to explore the attraction at their own pace. There's also a dog-friendly courtyard café where you'll find locally sourced soups, salad, and sandwiches. If you really want the royal treatment, book yourself in to try their award-winning afternoon tea. Complete with homemade pastries, scones, and sandwiches, the decadent feast is sure to satisfy your appetite after a long day traipsing around the palace. 

Emma Dooney
Emma Dooney

Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.