The Royal Mile is the tourism center of Edinburgh, hosting attractions ranging from the ancient castle and the city's oldest building, the 12th-century St. Margaret's Chapel, to busking bagpipers and gift shops plying kitschy kilts and tam o 'shanters. Hotels on the Royal Mile occupy some of the city's most coveted addresses. They tend toward the luxury end of the hotel market, with high prices justified by an unmatched location for taking in annual events like the Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Festival.
The Witchery by the Castle
Its prime location at the gates of Edinburgh Castle, lavish theatrical suites and a full saturation of Gothic styles make the Witchery by the Castle a rare thing -- a hotel that is genuinely unlike any other. Given its multiple accolades, including a mention among the "seven wonders of the hotel world" by Cosmopolitan magazine, it is prudent to try to book one of only seven guest suites as far in advance as you can. The room rates include a complimentary bottle of champagne and a continental breakfast in the restaurant, which also offers gourmet dinners of Scottish fare like rock oysters, smoked salmon, Angus beef and local game. Each suite has an appropriately evocative name -- the Library, Vestry, Inner Sanctum, Old Rectory, Sempill, Guardroom and Armoury. Features like tapestry-covered walls, ecclesiastical vestments, oversize claw-footed bathtubs, red velvet drapes and four-poster oak beds could belong in the castle next door.
If the name "Missoni" means nothing to you, you may not recognize that the Hotel Missoni's decor encapsulates the distinctive aesthetic of the elite fashion house. This hotel's guests, however, are invariably familiar with the connotations of all things Missoni -- black and white punctuated with bright, bold colors, seemingly simple geometric lines and the finest of fabrics. Choose one of the suites for the best views over the Royal Mile and the rooftops of Old Edinburgh.
Radisson Blu Hotel
The 238-room Radisson Blu Hotel is within minutes from Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre and the National Museum of Scotland. Its triple-glazed windows ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the heart of the bustling city. A Scottish theme is subtly incorporated into the decor with touches like black-on-black thistle motif wallpaper in the suites and contemporary Scottish cuisine served at the Itchycoo Bar and Kitchen, along with a menu of traditional malt whiskies. The most distinctive rooms are the Turret Suites, which face the Royal Mile. Contemporary works by a local photographer are displayed in every guest room.
The Bank Hotel on the Royal Mile gets its name from its previous incarnation as a bank, which was built in 1923. The historic structure has been refurbished to provide contemporary amenities like LCD-screen televisions and wireless Internet access while retaining its elegantly columned facade. With only nine guest rooms over three floors, it is an intimate hotel with attentive service and a 24-hour reception. The decor of each room is inspired by a distinguished Scot. "Treasure Island" author Robert Louis Stevenson and the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, are each honored with a room. The Bank Bar opens for breakfast in the morning and serves food throughout the day.
- edinburgh castle image by Louise McGilviray from Fotolia.com