Edinburgh is a vibrant city with so much to offer those visiting. Whether it’s food, history, culture, nightlife or a romantic weekend away, Edinburgh is the perfect city for it all. You just have to know where to stay in Edinburgh to meet your needs.
As a city, Edinburgh is fairly compact making it relatively easy to walk around. Although there are a lot of hills! The bus service is also exceptional. However, being in the right area of the city for exactly what you’re after does make things a little bit easier.
Having lived and worked in Edinburgh’s hospitality scene for a number of years, we know our way around. So, we’ve picked out the best places to stay for all budgets in Scotland’s capital. We have split them up by area so you can stay in the best place in the best part of the city for you, depending on what you’re looking for. In each area, there are recommendations for cheap places to stay, mid-range and luxury – something for everyone.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh Old Town
Edinburgh is roughly split into the Old Town and the New Town. In the Old Town, you’ll find most of the big historic tourist attractions and lots of shops selling cashmere and tweed.
Here you will find cobbled streets and blackened architecture. Their presence earned Edinburgh the name “Auld Reekie”, meaning “Old Smokie” from the air pollution which stuck to the stones in days-gone-by.
You’ll also find lots of cheap, excellent independent restaurants and pubs alongside budget-friendly accommodation and nightlife. This is the University side of town hence the budget-friendly options. That is, as long as you’re prepared to stray a few streets from the Royal Mile itself. Staying on famous The Royal Mile demands a premium (and comes with an extra sound level).
If it’s your first time in Edinburgh, the Old Town is ideal as you’re close to all the biggest attractions of the city.
The Ibis hotel chain has built a reputation for providing quality, no-frills hotel rooms at amazing prices. This one is no exception. Located only 10 minutes walk from Edinburgh Castle, it is a superb location with easy access to many excellent independent restaurants. You are also only a short walk from the bars and nightlife of the Grassmarket. The main shopping district on Princes Street is just 20 minutes walk away. Therefore, this hotel is ideal for your first trip to Edinburgh.
If you’re comfortable with a more Hostel style stay whilst visiting Edinburgh, the EdinB&B could be a great budget option for you. Located just off South Bridge on a quiet side street it is perfect for exploring the sites and sounds of the Old Town. They offer a very reasonably priced breakfast too. If you are more interested in exploring and of the mindset that a room is merely a place to sleep, then this little gem is ideal. The only negative is that they have shared bathrooms.
Aparthotel’s are all the rage in the UK right now. And for good reason. Offering superb facilities and fully equipped kitchens for a budget price in one of the city’s best locations is a recipe for success.
The Holyrood Aparthotel is located near the bottom of the Royal Mile on one of the many side streets. It is a bit quieter down this part of the Old Town compared to the hustle and bustle of South Bridge and the Mile itself. It is, however, still only 10 minutes from the Castle and almost next door to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Therefore, the location is superb for your first visit to Edinburgh or anyone who loves staying in the Old Town.
The Holyrood Aparthotel is also within staggering distance of the Grassmarket bars. Plus, there are a couple of good Chippys which open late en route home, and a shop around the corner for those essential supplies.
Right at the heart of The Royal Mile, The Fraser Suites combine a homely feel with top-notch facilities. They are located 350m from the Castle. With Mary King’s Close, Greyfriar’s Bobby and the Grassmarket all a stone’s throw away and a quick jaunt across the bridge to Princes Street, you couldn’t ask for a better location to explore historic Edinburgh. The little kitchenette for making snacks is a nice wee bonus. Plus, some of the rooms have wonderful views across Edinburgh to stare out at whilst you make your plans for the day.
Located in the heart of Grassmarket, the Apex City Hotel is right in the heart of the action for all things Edinburgh Old Town. You are 5 minutes’ walk, albeit a steep one, from Edinburgh Castle. And, you are right on the doorstep of Victoria Street. With its colourful shop fronts and cobbles, it is one of the prettiest streets in the Capital.
Apex City Hotel comes with all the amenities you would expect of a branded chain hotel. Plus, some of the rooms have nice views of the city. The location will set you up superbly to explore the city. The Grassmarket can get quite loud late on weekends so if you’re a light sleeper it’s probably not for you.
Located on North Bridge, just off the Royal Mile, Hilton Edinburgh Carlton couldn’t be in a better location to explore Edinburgh.
The hotel was recently refurbished, and you can tell. The modern rooms are relatively spacious, by Edinburgh City Centre standards anyway. Being right on North Bridge makes it very easy to get to either from Waverley train station or from the Airport. The castle is 5 minutes wander up The Royal Mile, Princes Street is 5 minutes across the bridge and the Palace of Holyroodhouse is 5 minutes down the Royal Mile. North Bridge is very busy so if you’re a light sleeper you will want to ask for a room on the other side of the hotel.
Located right next to the Castle at the top of the Royal Mile, The Witchery by the Castle has gorgeous bedrooms and a prime location.
There is also an on-site restaurant which, to be honest, is loving off its reputation and location. In our opinion, it is vastly overpriced for what you get although the wine list is excellent if you are a fan of French fine wines.
The rooms are a different kettle of fish. They are flamboyant, each with its own style. Each room has a feature four-poster bed, velvet-lined walls and bold red/gold decor. You’ll feel like you’re an 18th-century visiting dignitary while you’re there. It’s an experience like no other and an amazing place to spend a special weekend.
Another hotel located on the Royal Mile itself is the Radisson Blu. They also have some extra amenities like a health spa and pool to help you unwind when seeing the sights of the city get a bit much. Just a 5-minute walk up the hill takes you to the Castle and a short walk across the bridge takes you to Princes street.
They are also handily located for bars and nightlife and for grabbing some local or more international food. These big hotels don’t necessarily have the character but they do deliver everything you need to get the best out of Edinburgh.
Previously the home of The Scotsman newspaper, this iconic building overlooking Princes Street Gardens is an integral part of the Edinburgh Skyline. Each room is unique and has been appointed to keep a more “classic” style to the hotel. There’s a 48 seat cinema to go alongside the usual amenities. Plus, the location gives prime access to all the historic landmarks of the city as well as shopping and nightlife.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh New Town
Separated by Princes Street Gardens, the New Town might only be 400 yards from Edinburgh Old Town, but the Architecture and feel is totally different.
In Edinburgh New Town you’ll find Georgian terraced houses and wide streets. This is also the home of the big shopping locations of Princes Street and George Street. In addition to more chain restaurants and coffee shops.
A sub-district of the New Town is the super trendy Stockbridge. A walk to the top of Calton Hill will give you stunning views across the whole city.
The New Town is better for those who want to see a different side to Edinburgh, who are maybe less interested in the historic sights of the Old Town want to delve deeper into the Edinburgh of the locals.
Now, this is one for those who just need a hotel room to sleep and wash in. It really is a room without any bells or whistles. Some rooms don’t even have windows and they are all small. However, the location is fantastic – right on Princes Street, and it’s incredibly cheap for where it is. It’s all about your priorities: we’d happily stay in a shoebox and spend £300 on eating out when travelling. So, f you have a similar mindset, this is the place for you.
Located on Picardy Place, the Holiday Inn Express is a 10 minutes walk from Waverley station and Princes Street. It is, therefore, ideal for those looking to spend the majority of their time exploring the New Town, shopping on Princes street and enjoying the nightlife of the city centre.
With Calton Hill and Stockbridge just short walks away there is an abundance of historic sights, independent bars and eateries to explore.
This hotel offers everything you’d expect from an entry-level chain hotel but the price for the location is excellent. If you’re a frequent traveller you can also build up loyalty points for free stays with Holiday Inn.
Near the top of Leith Walk, you’ll find the very nicely furnished Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel. Being slightly further from the action means a bit more of a walk to the city centre, closer to 20 mins to Princes Street. However, there are lots of great bars and independent restaurants on Leith Walk to enjoy. And you’re only a short bus ride or moderate walk from anything you’d want to do in the New Town or Old Town.
The Courtyard by Marriott sits right beside the Playhouse Theatre and the foot of Calton Hill. This makes it a prime location for arts, history and food lovers visiting the city.
They also have an outdoor eating/ drinking area, although it is right onto a busy road. You can relax out there, making the most of any good weather you happen to encounter. Although with the scarcity of good weather in Scotland this isn’t a major selling point. They do have patio heaters and enough whiskies that you can’t feel the cold anymore though!
There is a vibrant nightlife in the area, with CC Blooms just next door. The nightlife is dubbed the “pink triangle”, favourites amongst the LGBTQ+ community. If you are a light sleeper, ask for a room at the back.
Yotel is another chain offering the stripped-back hotel experience at a very affordable price. Their York Place location is perfect for exploring the New Town.
You are a 15 minutes walk from Waverley station, just off George Street and right next to the excellent cocktail bar Panda & Sons. This location sets you up nicely for whatever it is you have in mind to enjoy whilst visiting the New Town.
York Place is a very busy street so light sleepers will want to request a room away from the street.
These 4* apartments are a mere 2 minutes from Waverley station and 5 minutes from the nearest Tram stop, which takes you straight to the airport. Having a bit more space to relax and your own kitchenette can be invaluable if you’re spending a little longer in the city. Or, if you prefer to have somewhere to spend a lot of time relaxing in as opposed to being out and about all the time, this is perfect.
St Andrews Square is just off Princes Street. You are also located a few minutes walk from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery for an afternoon of art and culture.
The ultimate selling point is that you are also 1 minute from Dishoom which is the best breakfast in Edinburgh.
The Balmoral Hotel is an Edinburgh icon with its clock tower and classic architecture. It is located right next to Waverley Train Station and a 2-minute walk from a tram stop. So, it’s ideally located. Additionally, it is on the corner of North Bridge and Princes Street meaning, no matter where you want to go in Edinburgh, you’re in the right place.
The rooms are stunning and some have incredible views across the city. No.1 Restaurant is one of the finest in Scotland, having held a Michelin star since 2003. The hotel concierge are some of the nicest people you will meet, incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Yes, all of this does cost you in terms of room rates but there’s a good reason. It’s been one of the best hotels in Edinburgh for a long time. This makes it the first place many people look, including celebrities, when questioning where to stay in Edinburgh.
At the other end of Princes Street from The Balmoral is the Kimpton Charlotte Square. This is a much quieter location but still very close to tram stops. Although it’s maybe a 10 minutes walk from Waverley Train Station.
This is another hotel with another of Scotland’s great restaurants. Aizle restaurant is now in residency. This is a great choice for those who want luxury and the best of Scottish food during their stay in Edinburgh.
The nearby Rose Street has great bars and small restaurants. Plus, you’re still only 25 minutes walk from the sights of the Old Town if the mood takes you. The basic rooms are also considerably cheaper than those at the Balmoral but it doesn’t have quite the same level of luxury.
21212 is situated on a beautiful Georgian Terrace on the prestigious Royal Terrace. It is located just around the corner from the Playhouse Theatre, at the foot of Calton Hill.
They have 4 stunning bedrooms on the top 2 floors of a converted townhouse. Each room is very large and have excellent bathrooms. If you’re lucky enough to get Room 1 or 12 the baths are enormous, with freestanding baths. The location is perfect for exploring Edinburgh city centre.
Breakfast in the morning is very simple, and there is no lift so be ready to climb a lot of stairs. But the rooms are amazing value so totally worth it. If you stay Sunday and Monday when the restaurant is closed they are incredibly good value for money. The restaurant is pretty good too.
Where to Stay in Leith, Edinburgh
Leith is incredibly popular with young people. As an area, it has undergone a total transformation from how it was depicted in Irvine Welsh’s fantastic book “Trainspotting”.
Now, Leith is home to high-end restaurants, trendy bars and luxury hotels. So, it’s ideal for the traveller wanting to see a different side of Edinburgh than the ultra-tourist focused city centre.
Whilst in Leith, enjoy walks along the shorefront, the nightlife of the local bars and there’s the fantastic Royal Yacht Britannia to visit. If you’ve seen all the main sights before, a trip to Leith can give you a different perspective on the incredibly diverse city of Edinburgh.
The waterfront has a few excellent hotels and is ideally located for the best restaurants in Leith. The Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart are top must-visit restaurants, as well as top bars plus there are wonderful views across the Firth of Forth.
The Leith Waterfront edition of the Holiday Inn Express puts you right at the water’s edge in Leith. Perfect if you want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of town.
Ocean Terminal shopping centre is right on your doorstep. This is also where the Royal Yacht Britannia is located which is a fascinating day out to explore.
The bus links back into the Old Town and New Town are excellent if you want to head in at any point during your trip to Edinburgh.
16 Pilrig Street lies just at the top of Pilrig Street, a busy heart just off Leith Walk. Walk out your front door in one direction and you are in a park, and turn the other way and you are straight into the action on Leith Walk.
Tastefully decorated guest house in a Georgian building. As an added bonus, there is free parking on the street outside which is very rare in Edinburgh so shh, don’t tell the council in case they change it!
So, Cairn Hotel and Apartments could arguably be classed as New Town or Leith as it falls in the boundary line. This makes it a great option if you are unsure or are debating where to stay in Edinburgh.
Being centrally located it gives you the best of both worlds. You are amongst more residential streets so this is a much quieter location. But, you are still only a 15-minute walk from Waverley Train Station or 6 minutes’ from the nearest tram stop. Perfect if you want to enjoy everything the city has to offer, but still want some peace and quiet once the sun goes down.
Overlooking Leith Links, The Sandaig is a stunning guest house with luxuriously decorated rooms. Only 10 minutes from the Waterfront and with excellent bus links into town it’s a great getaway in a more serene area of the city. Being a small guesthouse it doesn’t have the range of facilities as the bigger hotels. But the rooms are stunning, some featuring 4 poster beds. Plus, the location next to Leith Links is perfect for those looking for a peaceful weekend away.
Falling on the boundary of New Town and Leith falls No. 11 Boutique Hotel & Brasserie. This is a beautiful Georgian townhouse where you can also enjoy their private gardens. Edinburgh is a city with a lot of green space, much of which is privately owned and locked away, so getting to explore a little pocket of it is something not to be sniffed at.
Their breakfast is a superb way to kick you off in the morning. You can start with a full Scottish breakfast, made with locally sourced ingredients.
The decor is very dramatic, dark and moody. This gives it a very romantic feel – not one I would take my mum to, but a perfect getaway with your other half.
Recently refurbished to an incredibly high standard, you will find a relaxing, modern room at Culane House Hotel.
As a small team, everyone is welcoming and wonderful. They are very knowledgable about the local area and keen to help you find your way with any recommendations to help you plan your day.
The hotel overlooks Leith Links Park. So, if you want to know where to stay in Edinburgh for rest and relaxation, this is a solid option.
As the name would suggest, The Shore Apartment is in the exceptionally picturesque area of The Shore in Leith. It is located adjacent to many excellent bars and restaurants. With 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a living area, this apartment makes for an ideal getaway.
It is the perfect setting for those who want to spend more time relaxing and less time sightseeing. Although the Royal Yacht Britannia is only a short walk away so there is still some sights close by.
You can follow the canal all the way up into Stockbridge and beyond if the mood takes you. Or, you can just sit and watch the world go by outside a nice bar with some drinks.
The Malmaison group offer a very particular style of hotel. It’s a style which some people absolutely love. But, it can also divide opinion as there’s so much black decor about the place. Their rooms are usually excellently designed and furnished and definitely have a romantic feel to them.
This Malmaison is located down by the Shore in Leith. Again this is close to the best restaurants and bars. It is also ideal for walks, the Royal Yacht Britannia and nightlife. There are fairly good bus links back up into town but they are extending the tram lines down Leith Walk for the next few years. This means that getting up and down Leith Walk by bus or car will be problematic for the foreseeable future.
Stunning apartment just off Leith Walk, close to the new town on the boundary to Leith. This apartment offers the best of luxury, your own space and proximity to Edinburgh city centre.
This is an adults-only apartment so perfect for a quiet getaway. There are 2 bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and space to relax. It is the best of both worlds. The apartment is close to great restaurants and bars but also allows you the opportunity to try your hand at your own great Scottish recipes.
Where to stay in Stockbridge, Edinburgh
Stockbridge is the trendiest part of Edinburgh. This Edinburgh neighbourhood is home to excellent cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and a farmers market on Sundays.
This stylish neighbourhood is the place to be for those interested in the provenance of everything they eat and drink. Or, if you want to find a bargain in some plush charity shops. Or, maybe you just like the vibe of sitting in an independent cafe with your single origin coffee and handmade pastry.
In Stockbridge, you’re around 20 minutes walk, all uphill, from Princes Street. And a good half-hour walk from the Castle – again mostly uphill. However, if the major tourist attractions aren’t for you, Stockbridge has a lot to offer and a style of its own.
Being a sub-district of the New Town, there aren’t quite as many options.
Here we have a Victorian townhouse which has been lovingly converted into this lovely guesthouse.
Ardenlee Guest House is just 5 minutes walk from the main street of Stockbridge. It is also close to many excellent New Town bars and restaurants.
The cheaper rooms tend to have a shared bathroom. But if you don’t mind this, you can get a lovely room at a real bargain price, making it perfect for exploring all things Stockbridge. Plus, you’re still only 15 minutes walk from the action on Princes Street.
Down beside the water of Leith, you’ll find The Artisan’s Dwelling. This is an apartment for rent rather than a hotel. However, it is situated at the end of a very picturesque little lane at the bottom of Stockbridge. The apartment is in an area where very few things are cheap. Therefore, the rates on this apartment are superb and you’re still close to the main attractions of Stockbridge. Although you’re a little further from Princes Street and the Old Town, you are also close to bus links to take you up the hill if you so desire.
Although most of the accommodation in Stockbridge is rented apartments, there are still some beautiful hotels that we can recommend. Although they do fall in the luxury price bracket, but then most of the accommodation down this way is luxurious.
The converted Georgian townhouse of The Raeburn has all the luxurious fixtures and fittings you’d expect. Each of the rooms has been lovingly decorated to give a uniquely Stockbridge style.
There is a restaurant on-site, although the offerings nearby are better quality and value in our opinion.
You are just 2 minutes walk to the heart of the area. Plus there are good bus links to the main attractions. A 10-minute walk will take you to Edinburgh’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Raeburn is a fabulous place to stay if you want to get the most out of Stockbridge. Also, just down the road is Raeburn Wines which is a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of goodies, though the owner can be a bit grumpy.
Another stunning Georgian townhouse is the Nira Caledonia. Each of the 28 bedrooms is uniquely and beautifully decorated. In each room there is a statement piece alongside soothing, mellow colours so nothing is overpowering.
Being a small hotel, they pride themselves on going the extra mile and providing the extra personal touches.
Located just of Royal Circus, an incredible and unique circular street which photographers flock to.
Scotland is abundant in beautiful landscapes, perfect for creating a diverse and exciting food scene.
Click here to read all about the top Scottish foods and drinks to enjoy on your next trip.
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The Plate Unknown is an educational food blog. Here we share information about world food culture, the origin of dishes from around the world, and tips for taking a food-focused trip.