Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, is steeped in history, and the annual Edinburgh International Festival makes it a globally important cultural center. Think about booking accommodations a year ahead if you want to visit during the festival. Most of Edinburgh’s hotels are in the downtown area, but several choices exist in residential neighborhoods just away from the center. Edinburgh is a compact city, so wherever you stay is within reasonable distance of city attractions.
Princes Street, the very center of Edinburgh, has shopping along its north side and the green spaces of Princes Street Gardens to the south. Edinburgh Castle, high on its crag, overlooks the street. Princes Street has only three hotels along its mile-long run, all four- or five-star establishments. Staying here puts you right in the center of things, and most of Edinburgh’s main attractions are within walking distance or a short cab ride. Situated at the west end of Princes Street, the Old Waverley Hotel was built in the 19th century to service Edinburgh’s main rail station, which is a few minutes’ walk away. The Ramada Jarvis Mount Royal Hotel is housed in modern building with views over Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle.
The New Town
“New” in the context of the New Town is a relative term since construction on these sweeping neoclassical streets and crescents started in 1765 and finished by 1850. Right in the heart of Edinburgh, this neighborhood is full of wealthy lawyers and bankers, but some of the splendid Georgian town houses operate as upscale hotels. You won’t find a bargain here, but if you have the money, the architecture and the location are excellent. The Hudson Hotel is housed in a fine 18th-century building a few steps from Princes Street. Set in a Georgian townhouse, the Number 10 Hotel is at the southern border of the New Town.
The Old Town
The Old Town is just north of Princes Street and centers on the Royal Mile, which runs east from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. This is an area of tall tenement houses, some dating back to the 16th century. Narrow wynds, or alleys, meander away from the main street, much of which retains its cobbled finish. Hotel rates are more affordable than in the New Town. Located in a modern glass-fronted building with contemporary interiors, the fashionable Hotel Missoni is just off the Old Town’s High Street. The Hotel Ibis Edinburgh Centre is around the corner from the Royal Mile and a three-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle.
The port of Leith is an Edinburgh suburb east of the center, a 20-minute taxi ride from Princes Street. In years gone by, it was an area for tourists to avoid, but the last decade has seen an influx of gourmet restaurants, a selection of luxury and boutique hotels, and fashionable bars and cafes. Set in a former seaman’s mission, the Malmaison Edinburgh features stylish interiors and overlooks Leith’s docks. The Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh-Waterfront is right by the by the docks, next to the shopping, ice-skating and restaurants of the Ocean Terminal mall.
The Meadows, a large open park with grassland and mature trees just to the south of the old town, has a range of budget hotels adjacent or nearby as well as some luxury options. The Meadows has the advantage that, although only a 20-minute walk from Princes Street, it is a distance from the hurly-burly of the city center proper. Perhaps this is why Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling owns a Victorian house nearby. Set in modern building, the Borough Hotel is a three-minute walk from the Meadows. Housed in a traditional Edinburgh property with baronial styling, The Best Western Edinburgh City Hotel is a few steps north of the Meadows and a 15-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle.
- Old Waverley Hotel: Contact
- Ramada Jarvis Mount Royal Hotel: Travel, Arrival & Access
- Hudson Hotel: Location
- Number Ten Hotel: Location
- Hotel Missoni: Contact
- Hotel Ibis Edinburgh Centre: Access
- Malmaison Edinburgh: Find Us
- Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh-Waterfront: Our Location
- The Borough Hotel: Contact
- Best Western Edinburgh City Hotel: Contact
- Edinburgh Castle image by Peter Helin from Fotolia.com