Whether you plan on exploring Edinburgh Castle, scaling Arthur’s Seat or hunkering down in an old pub with a wee dram of whisky, this is a city where you’ll want to stay a while. Luckily, Edinburgh has more places to stay than anywhere else in the UK aside from London, with something for every budget. Here's our pick of where to stay in Edinburgh.
The information in this article is inspired by The Mini Rough Guide to Edinburgh, your essential guide for visiting Edinburgh.
Edinburgh’s well-worn thoroughfare from the Castle to Holyrood Palace is central to any visitor’s itinerary. Subdivided into four streets – Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate – The Royal Mile is where to stay in Edinburgh for museums, churches, pubs and restaurants. Yes, it’s a magnet for tartan-stuffed souvenir stores but this is also Edinburgh at its most fascinating.
Radiating off The Royal Mile is an atmospheric warren of narrow closes, steep lanes and hidden vaults. The architecture is a topsy-turvy blend of blackened sandstone facades, rubblestone tenements and merchant houses.
For a better insight into Edinburgh's nightlife, explore our guide to the best pubs in Edinburgh.
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Once the site of Edinburgh’s public gallows, the Grassmarket was the city’s rather sordid hub, home to brothels and drinking dens. A wave of gentrification has shaken off the areas' grimmer connotations. Today it’s a lively place where bars and restaurants – many set in the shadow of the castle – spill out onto the pavements.
Quirky, independent boutique shops cluster along the pastel-coloured swerve of Victoria Street. Come evening the area pulsates as the younger crowd – and often a gaggle of stag and hen parties – descend on the area’s pubs and clubs.
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Something of a misnomer, Edinburgh’s New Town is actually well over two hundred years old. Confidence and elegance radiate from its broad, straight streets and graceful Georgian architecture. For a dose of culture, you can visit the National Gallery of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. However, the main lure here is the top-rate shopping.
Gleaming designer stores stretch along George Street, popular chains dominate Princes Street and independent shops dot Thistle and Rose streets. And of course, after a hard day’s shopping the area comes alive with sleek restaurants and chic cocktail bars.
When planning a trip to Edinburgh, take a look at our guide to iconic Edinburgh sights that are even better during the festivals, which may have some useful ideas for your holiday.
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Edgy and local, Leith is where to stay in Edinburgh away from the tourist hustle. Here there’s an inescapably nautical air: seagulls whirl and screech through the air, low stone bridges criss-cross the Water of Leith and small boats bob at the opening of the harbour.
Food and drink are the unmissable draws here. There's haute cuisine – the area is home to two Michelin-starred restaurants – and cool concept bars, time-worn pubs and organic-focused cafés that line the cobbled pavement of The Shore, Leith’s main waterside drag.
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Set astride the gurgling Water of Leith ford, Stockbridge was a little hamlet until the expansion of Edinburgh’s New Town gobbled it up. However, the area has managed to keep its self-contained village feel appealing independent spirit. A popular home for young professionals, it’s a charming hub of activity from the Sunday farmer’s market to the string of independent boutique shops, cafés and restaurants.
Head out to browse the stores along Raeburn Place – Stockbridge’s sweeping main street – and St Stephen’s Street, once one of Edinburgh’s worst slums and now a sleek, off-beat side street.
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Less than half a mile (0.8km) from the western end of Princes Street is Dean Village, which straddles the ribbon-thin Water of Leith, whose narrow valley drops steeply here. Dean Bridge carries the main road over the Water. It was designed and built by Thomas Telford, one of Scotland’s greatest civil engineers.
Dean was an industrial village, its economy depending on numerous small mills that have now completely disappeared. A walk beside the water offers the most interesting views, so don’t cross the bridge. Instead, take the cobbled alley of Bells Brae to Hawthornbank Road down into the valley. You’ll find great views of the rear of the Georgian houses of the New Town as well as the small cottages of Dean Village itself.
Morningside and Bruntsfield are two contiguous areas in Edinburgh. Both are located to the south of the city centre and are highly popular residential areas with Victorian and Georgian architecture. Morningside is renowned for its upscale shops, cafes and restaurants and has a name for itself as a more established area.
Bruntsfield, on the opposite, is where to stay in Edinburgh for the bohemian vibe and is famous for its independent shops and fancy cafes. It is the location of Bruntsfield Links public park, which is a popular place for recreation and sporting activities for locals. The area is also home to the famous Royal Theatre, which holds performances and events all year round.
Explore the beauty of Scotland with our guide to the most beautiful places in Scotland.
The West End is a very popular and affluent area of the capital, located to the west of the city centre. It is home to many of the main tourist attractions from Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens to the Scottish National Gallery.
The West End is where to stay in Edinburgh for its fabulous architecture with many historic buildings and impressive Georgian townhouses. The area is a centre for luxury retail, with many high-end designer shops and boutiques located along Princes Street.
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Ready for a trip to Edinburgh? Check out the snapshot The Mini Rough Guide to Edinburgh or The Rough Guide to Scotland.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Edinburgh without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
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Top image: Circus Lane, Stockbridge © Doubleclix/Shutterstock