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 Royal Mile: the best area to stay in Edinburgh for sightseeing
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.
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- Best for a stylish second home: Old Town Chambers. Tucked down a narrow passageway just off The Royal Mile, Old Town Chambers is a collection of stylish, luxury serviced apartments set in a thoughtfully restored fifteenth-century building. Each is enlivened with modern comforts such as Nespresso machines and there's an on-site gym.
- Best for atmospheric indulgence: The Witchery by the Castle. Just moments from the castle, the nine riotously indulgent suites at The Witchery promise a memorable stay. Expect antique furniture and tapestry-draped beds, roll-top baths, complimentary champagne and the chance to dine on a full Scottish breakfast at the famously spooky restaurant.
Grassmarket: where to stay in Edinburgh for a youthful atmosphere
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.
- Best for pleasing the crowd: Apex Grassmarket Hotel ticks a lot of boxes: a great location – with many of the rooms boasting castle views and balconies that peer down onto the buzzing Grassmarket below – plus a good on-site restaurant, pool and gym.
- Best for buzzy fun: Grassmarket Hotel. With its bright, colourful interior housed in a listed building, the Grassmarket Hotel is a fun-loving place to crash with a great central location set amidst the buzz and bars of the Grassmarket.
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New Town: the best area to stay in Edinburgh for a top-rate shopping
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.
- Best for a high-end hideaway: The Edinburgh Grand. Fantastically located with the best of the New Town on its doorstep, The Edinburgh Grand is housed in the elegant former Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters. Fifty luxury serviced apartments combine touches of the building’s heritage with modern luxuries.
- Best for New Town indulgence: The Glasshouse. Incorporating the castellated facade of the former Lady Glenorchy’s Church, The Glasshouse is a seriously hip hotel, just the ticket for a stylish weekend away: think vast windows, push-button curtains, private terraces and a sprawling roof garden.
Leith: the best area to stay in Edinburgh for foodies
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.
- Best for a unique city stay: Fingal. Undoubtedly the most unique place to stay in Edinburgh, this luxury floating hotel was once a working ship that serviced lighthouses around Scotland’s west coast. A stay at Fingal makes for a truly memorable experience: from the sloping walls that follow the ship’s stern and the original porthole windows to the compasses above each bed.
- Best for waterfront comfort: Malmaison. This was the first Malmaison to open in the UK. The boutique hotel brand kicked off in Leith in 1994, taking over the former Sailor’s Home, a grand 1880s building topped with a clock tower. It’s a lovely central location – perfect to enjoy the best of The Shore.
Stockbridge: where to stay in Edinburgh for an independent spirit
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.
- Best for listed-building luxury: Nira Caledonia. Set across two gorgeous Georgian townhouses, the rooms at Nira Caledonia vary in size but all share a commitment to luxury, comfort and a gently contemporary style. The fantastic restaurant uses locally sourced produce, while the best of central Stockbridge is only a short walk away.
- Best for boutique-style beauty: The Raeburn. The ten lovely rooms at The Raeburn are centred on a popular restaurant and bar that hums with locals. Boutique style is the order of the day here.
Dean Village: the best area to stay in Edinburgh for the views
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.
- Best for price and quality: B+B Edinburgh. A 20-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, this boutique bed and breakfast has a historically listed façade and a charming old staircase. Wi-fi is free throughout the building.
- Best for location: YOTEL Edinburgh. Built-in 2019, this 4-star hotel is within 1.2 km of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions and 1.4 km of The Real Mary King's Close. The property is allergy-free and is located 1.2 km from EICC.
Morningside and Bruntsfield: best areas to stay in Edinburgh for a combination of upscale and bohemian vibes
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.
- Best for boutique atmosphere: The Lane Hotel. Situated in Edinburgh, 2.5 km from EICC, The Lane Hotel features accommodation with a garden, free private parking, a terrace and a restaurant. Featuring a bar, the property is located within 3.1 km of the National Museum of Scotland.
- Best for lovely style: Black Ivy is just a 15-minute walk from Edinburgh city centre and features a lively bar which overlooks Bruntsfield Links Park. The shopping precinct of Princes Street is only 2.1 km from the hotel.
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West End: the best area to stay in Edinburgh for the main attractions
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.
- Best for city views: The Rutland Hotel & Apartments. The glamorous Rutland Hotel has stylish rooms, a luxurious late lounge, and a unique restaurant with a glass wine cellar. It is situated on the West End of Princes Street, with views of Edinburgh Castle.
- Best for central location: The Bonham. Situated in Edinburgh's West End, The Bonham Hotel is a Victorian townhouse. Every bedroom has a city view. Shops and restaurants on Princess Street, Calton Hill, Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and EICC are all within walking distance.
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Top image: Circus Lane, Stockbridge © Doubleclix/Shutterstock