Where To Stay in Edinburgh Scotland - Guide of Best Areas and Hotels

For more than five centuries, Edinburgh has been considered the capital of Scotland. Its history, however, is a lot longer than that, and the first settlements were set here before current era. Luckily, Edinburgh stayed mostly untouched by the major wars, and now displays a stunning mix of medieval, Victorian and Georgian architecture. There is plenty to see and to discover, and if you are fond of sightseeing, you should definitely designate some time to spend in this fascinating town.

Although Edinburgh (pronounced [ˈɛdɪnb(ə)rə]) is a relatively small city, it offers varied rental options for average prices, and if you are traveling with a family, the spacious apartments available can be a great deal. Due to the city’s compactness, most of the main attractions are in walking distance from one another, and, generally, walking is the best way to discover Edinburg. Getting around the city is very easy: a well developed public transportation system assures frequent buses and trams, and you should consider taking one if you are carrying some heavy luggage, as you will have plenty of hills to climb while exploring the city.

Table of Content


Part 1. A quick glance at Edinburgh’s neighbourhoods

Old Town - entertaining and happening, is the southern part of Edinburgh’s heart boasting plenty of attractions and intense nightlife

New Town (incl. Princes Str) - busy and cosmopolitan, is the northern part of Edinburgh’s heart, featuring plenty of shopping venues and fine eateries

Dean Village and Stockbridge - quiet and residential, is ideal for a romantic or family stay and features nice pubs and stores

West End - upscale and cool, offers an uptown experience and plenty of entertainment options

Southside and Holyrood - quiet and chill, presents fine eateries and pubs as well as playground for sports and kids

Broughton and Calton - LGBT-friendly and fun, features a very pleasant atmosphere and appearance

Leith - diverse and edgy, offers plenty of fun entertainment options that will make you forget its relative remoteness


Part 2. Recommended neighbourhoods and hotels to stay in Edinburgh

Old Town

Pronounced: [‘əuld ‘taun]

- Overview

Old Town clusters some of the city’s main attractions, all within walking distance from one another. Embracing the Royal Mile and Grassmarket, it is a truly magical and romantic area, and many rentals also provide a gorgeous view of the adjacent parts of the city. Although it is Edinburgh’s medieval neighbourhood, no matter how young your heart and mind are, here you will find plenty of things to do. Grassmarket is a great place for pub crawls and shopping. At night Cowgate seems to wake up and starts positively throbbing. Some parts of the Old Town can get really noisy, but it still offers the most central location in Edinburgh. Hence, it’s one of the best areas to stay in if you are visiting for the first time, or your visit is short and you’d like to make the most of it. However, if you are carrying heavy luggage or you are visiting with a family, when considering this neighbourhood for your stay, take into account that it is a bit uphill. Accommodation here is pricier than in most other neighbourhoods, but you’ll find plenty of options varying in both price and quality.

- Main Attractions

* Royal Mile (must see)
* Augustine United Church
* Carrubbers Christian Centre
* Chambers Street
* City Art Centre
* Cowgate Street
* Dunbar's Close Garden
* Edinburgh Castle (must see)
* Edinburgh Farmers' Market
* Museum of Edinburgh
* Parliament House
* The Royal Mile Gallery
* The Scotish Whisky Experience (must see)
* Heart of Midlothian
* John Knox House
* Magdalen Chapel
* Grassmarket (must see)
* Real Mary King's Close (must see)
* St. Margaret's Chapel (must see)
* People's Story Museum
* South Bridge Street
* Kirk of the Canongate Chapel
* St. Giles Cathedral (must see)
* Greyfriars Church
* Greyfriars Bobby Memorial (must see)
* Greyfriars Art Shop
* Museum of Childhood (must see)
* Tron Kirk Church
* Writers' Museum

- Recommended Walks

These guides will help you discover all of the main Old Town’s attractions with ease:

* Old Town Walking Tour
* Old Town Shopping Walk
* Royal Mile Walking Tour
* Museums and Galleries, Old Town
* Old and New Town Best Pubs

- Pros of Staying Here

- Great location
- Wealth of accommodation and sightseeing
- Numerous pubs, eateries and clubs
- Abundance of shopping venues
- Convenient transport links to other areas

- Cons of Staying Here

- Pricier accommodation
- Crowded
- Might get noisy
- Uphill location

- Recommended Hotels within $306-$424

Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh (5*) - the only five-star hotel on the Royal Mile, it offers to guests an exquisite restaurant, bar, and plenty of on-site facilities

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hilton Edinburgh Carlton (4*), Macdonald Holyrood Hotel (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

Hotel Du Vin Edinburgh (4*) - a hotel with a very unique atmosphere, it features a cozy bistro and bar and other facilities to relax after a busy day
Stay Central Hotel (3*) - a modern and interestingly designed hotel with a great location, bike rental service and on-site bar very much enjoyed by sports fans
The Inn on the Mile (4*) - a nice and comfortable hotel with a good location and on-site bike rental service

Other hotels worth mentioning: The Scotsman Hotel (4*), Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh – Royal Mile (3*) - a well-located hotel with large bright rooms, comfortable beds, good for family stay
Safestay Edinburgh - a clean hostel offering spacious bedrooms and great location

Other hotels worth mentioning: The Inn Place (4*), Cowgate Hostel


New Town (incl. Princes Str)

Pronounced: [‘nju: ‘taun]

- Overview

Don’t let the name of the neighbourhood mislead you: New Town is just a bit newer than the Old Town. Its streets feature gorgeous Georgian settings hosting today various stores and business offices. Some locals consider New Town a cosmopolitan neighbourhood, but it’s up to you whether to agree with them or not. The whole area is a shopaholic’s heaven, culminating on the Princess Street. After shopping, you can choose one of many pubs or Instagram worthy cafes to show off and brag about your new bargains, and then while the night away in cocktail bars or clubs. The abundance of eateries will gratify the foodies. Alternatively, you can just have a picnic in St. Andrew’s Square joining many others at lunch. Princess Street Gardens are a great place to jog or unwind, whichever makes you happier. It is a good area to rent in regardless of whether you are visiting alone, with friends or family, whether your visit is short or is going to last a while, no matter what the goal of your visit is.

- Main Attractions

* Princes Street (must see)
* Princes Street Gardens (must see)
* Scott Monument (must see)
* Charlotte Baptist Chapel
* Charlotte Square
* Church of Scotland Offices
* The Parish Church of St. Andrew's and St. George's
* Dugald Stewart Monument
* National Gallery of Scotland (must see)
* Scottish National Portrait Gallery (must see)
* Melville Monument
* St. Andrew Square

- Recommended Walks

Enjoy fully the New Town following these guides:

* New Town Walking Tour
* New Town Architecture Walking Tour
* Kids Entertainment Tour
* New Town Shopping

- Pros of Staying Here

- Great location
- Wealth of accommodation and sightseeing
- Numerous pubs, eateries and clubs
- Abundance of shopping venues
- Convenient transport links to other areas

- Cons of Staying Here

- Expensive accommodation
- Touristy
- Might get noisy

- Recommended Hotels within $425-$920

The Balmoral Hotel (5*) - a perfectly located gorgeous hotel with on-site restaurant, sauna, and plenty of other useful and pleasant facilities

- Recommended Hotels within $306-$424

Tigerlily (4*) - a distinctive hotel with a nice bar and restaurant, and very helpful staff
The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square (5*) - a finely decorated hotel hosted in a beautiful Georgian setting offering a wide range of on-site facilities: great value for money

Other hotels worth mentioning: The Glasshouse, Autograph Collection (5*), Le Monde Hotel (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

Frederick House Hotel (4*) - a lovely hotel offering a great location, cozy rooms, good for family stay

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

Queens Guest House (4*) - located in a beautiful Georgian townhouse, this hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms, and good value for the prices charged
The Baxter Hostel - a well-located hostel with clean rooms and bathrooms, comfy beds, providing great value for money

Other hotels worth mentioning: Elder York Guest House (3*), Castle View Guest House, Edinburgh Townhouse (3*)


Dean Village and Stockbridge

Pronounced: [‘di:n ˈvɪlɪdʒ], [‘stɔk,brɪdʒ]

- Overview

Although it’s not further than a 15-minutes walk to Princes Street, this part of Edinburgh conveys a village feel, and is generally very quiet and peaceful. It is more of a residential area, and you will oftentimes meet locals, especially young families. You can find all the conveniences and choose from a big bunch of nice pubs and shops to spend some of your leisure time. Foodies will be delighted to discover plenty of delis worth visiting. Besides, you can visit the Stockbridge market on Sundays, or unwind walking along the gurgling waters of Leith. Accommodation is a bit cheaper here, but unfortunately there is not too much to choose from. This neighbourhood is great for family stay and for everyone looking for a quieter sojourn: if you would like a relaxed vacation but still be close to all the action, this neighbourhood is perfect for you.

- Main Attractions

* Royal Botanic Garden (must see)

- Recommended Walks

To find your way around this neighbourhood, check out these guides:

* Stockbridge Walking Tour
* Dundas Street Art Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Cheaper accommodation
- Quiet and peaceful
- Perfect for family stay
- Numerous cafes, pubs and eateries
- Market on Sundays

- Cons of Staying Here

- Fewer transport links to other areas
- Fewer rental options
- Few attractions

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

The Edinburgh Residence (4*) - a quiet hotel with large rooms and notable room service, ideal for a family stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: B&B Edinburgh (4*), The Bonham (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

The Raeburn (4*) - a very homey yet intelligently designed hotel with nice staff, plenty of useful stuff in the rooms: great value for money

Other hotels worth mentioning: The Inverleith Hotel & Apartments (3*)


West End

Pronounced: [‘wɛst ‘ɛnd]

- Overview

If you are looking for an uptown experience, West End is just right for you. Plenty of shopping boutiques, fine cafes and restaurants. This is also the part of the city hosting the Filmhouse, Usher Hall and other similar attractions, making it the beloved neighbourhood for cultural buffs. There are also plenty of hip bars, in case you’d be looking for a place to chill. The backstreets, somewhat keeping the Georgian feel, may convey a residential vibe, while the main thoroughfares maintain the cool and urban appearance of this neighbourhood. Besides, it is right close to both New Town and Old Town, so you won’t have to waste too much of your time on getting around the city. If an upscale vacation is what you want and you are not willing to compromise on quality, then you should definitely choose West End. If you are travelling with a family, consider this neighbourhood a good choice.

- Main Attractions

* St. Mary's Cathedral (must see)
* Usher Hall

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Good for family stay
- Abundance of fine eateries and shopping venues
- Farmers market on Saturdays
- Convenient transport links to other neighbourhoods

- Cons of Staying Here

- Pricier accommodation
- Few attractions

- Recommended Hotels within $306-$424

Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa (5*) - a luxurious hotel boasting great service and plenty of high-quality on-site facilities

Other hotels worth mentioning: Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh City Centre (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

Edinburgh City Hotel (3*) - a tidy hotel located in a quiet area with an on-site bar and restaurant, perfect for a family stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel (4*), Mercure Edinburgh Haymarket (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

Albyn Townhouse (4*) - a very homey B&B, with comfortable beds and very peaceful surroundings
The St Valery (3*) - a neat well-located B&B boasting fabulous breakfasts and friendly staff

Other hotels worth mentioning: Piries Hotel (3*), iHoliday Hotel (3*)


Southside and Holyrood

Pronounced: [sauθ,saɪd], [ˈhɔliˌruːd]

- Overview

Southside and Holyrood are in close proximity to the city centre, but concurrently away from all the noise. Here you’ll find several important attractions on one side, and some awesome places to relax during or after your perusal. The University of Edinburgh is also here, so you’ll meet many students hanging around. If you love sports, you’ll enjoy the sporty and flat spaces of the Meadows park, oftentimes hosting friendly football, cricket, tennis and other games. You can also challenge yourself and hike up Arthur’s Seat in the Holyrood Park. Southside and Holyrood make a great area to stay in if you are visiting with a mate or family, given the parks and playgrounds to unwind and have fun. Accommodation is averagely priced, but the downside is that there are few rental options.

- Main Attractions

* Arthur's Seat (must see)
* Holyrood Abbey (must see)
* Holyroodhouse (must see)
* Queen's Gallery
* St. Anthony's Chapel (ruins)
* Barclay Viewforth Church of Scotland
* George Square
* The Apostolic Church
* Scottish Parliament Building
* Buddhist centre
* Our Dynamic Earth

- Recommended Walks

Check these guides for some instructions for planning your perusal:

* Holyrood Park and Duddingston Walking Tour
* Religious Sites Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Cheaper accommodation and eateries
- Quiet and peaceful
- Presence of parks allows regular walking, jogging, and cycling
- Playgrounds for sports and for kids
- Perfect for romantic and family stay
- Transport links to other neighbourhoods

- Cons of Staying Here

- Few rental options
- Fewer attractions

- Recommended Hotels within $306-$424

Ten Hill Place Hotel (4*) - a well-located hotel with an on-site bar and notable restaurant

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

Residence Inn by Marriott Edinburgh (4*) - a modern hotel with spacious rooms and varied on-site facilities
KM Central (3*) - a nicely decorated hotel with comfy rooms and wonderful breakfasts

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

Newington Rooms - a very simple hotel good for budget travelling


Broughton and Calton

Pronounced: [ˈbroutən], [ˈkɔːltən]

- Overview

While Edinburgh is generally an LGBT-friendly city, Broughton is the most friendly neighbourhood, and Pride Edinburgh is held here in early summer. Foodies will be delighted by various international cuisines served in catering venues. This is a diverse area, and you will enjoy any - hip bars or fine restaurants, art galleries or bistros, clubs or pubs - all displaying good taste and intelligent design. Calton is a less crowded area, with fewer restaurants, displaying both Victorian and Georgian settings. For some of the best views in the city, climb the Calton Hill, particularly at and after sunset. Broughton and Calton blend into a nice area to stay in for any traveler, but consider that it offers fewer rental options, most for average prices.

- Main Attractions

* Calton Hill Observatory (must see)
* National Monument (must see)

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- LGBT-friendly
- Cheaper accommodation
- Abundance of catering and entertainment venues
- Park to jog or just relax
- Transport links to other neighbourhoods

- Cons of Staying Here

- Fewer rental options

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

24 Royal Terrace (4*) - a nice and tidy hotel with a quiet and pleasant location, good for a family stay
Bonnie’s Guest House (4*) - a homey guesthouse with authentic rooms, helpful staff and an on-site garden

Other hotels worth mentioning: Twelve Picardy Place (4*), Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh City Centre (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

Fraoch House (4*) - a well-located with a beautiful interior and comfy rooms, providing high value for the prices charged
Browns Bed and Breakfast (4*) - an adorable B&B boasting stuff’s attention to details and little touches: great value for money

Other hotels worth mentioning: Claremont Guesthouse (3*), Abbey Hotel (3*)


Leith

Pronounced: [liːθ]

- Overview

Although Leith is an up-and-coming neighbourhood, it still has an edgy vibe to it. Leith presents a different side of Edinburgh: it hosts cultural, charity festivals and stunning graffitis, it clusters hipster eateries and Michelin-starred restaurants (foodies rejoice!!!), it combines Georgian settings with modern buildings. You will find plenty of things to do and ways to have fun here. It is somewhat remote, which is why we would not recommend it for family stay, but the bus trip to downtown should not take you more than 15 minutes. However, if remoteness is not an issue for you, this neighbourhood can meet many of your desires and tastes. You will find varied accommodation options, and you can also consider renting an apartment to experience the life of the locals.

- Main Attractions

* Royal Yacht Britannia (must see)

- Recommended Walks

Discover Leith following this guide:

* Leith Gourmet and Shopping Walk

- Pros of Staying Here

- Cheaper accommodation
- Plenty of rental options
- Numerous fine eateries, cafes and pubs
- Transport links to other areas

- Cons of Staying Here

- Fewer attractions
- Relative remoteness

- Recommended Hotels within $186-$305

Malmaison Edinburgh (4*) - a well-located hotel providing high quality service to guests and varied on-site facilities

- Recommended Hotels within $66-$185

No. 11 Boutique Hotel (4*) - a classy boutique hotel with elegant rooms, on-site restaurant and bar, providing high value for the price
The Sandaig (4*) - a well-located hotel with spacious comfortable rooms boasting great hosts and reasonable prices: good value for money

Other hotels worth mentioning: A-Haven Townhouse Hotel, Seafront Homestay in Edinburgh, Henderson Gardens


Part 3. Getting from the airport to your hotel

Getting from the airport to your hotel should be pretty easy, especially if you’ve chosen one of our recommended neighbourhoods to stay in in Edinburgh. It is a quite compact city, and with the well-developed public transportation system, getting around is both easy and pretty fast (although relatively expensive). You have several options to choose from.

Tram

Edinburgh Trams service run from the airport to downtown every 7 minutes between about 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. One way adult ticket costs £6.00 (~US $8.15), and adult return ticket is £8.50 (~ US $11.05). As the return journey remains open, you don’t have to worry about that. Just don’t forget to buy your ticket before you get on the tram. This service will get you to downtown, stopping on its route (besides other stations) at Haymarket, West End, Princes Street, St. Andrew Square, prior to getting to its final stop at York Place (in New Town).

Bus

There are several bus lines that can take you from the airport to downtown. Airlink 100 express bus will take you to downtown in about 30 minutes, stopping at Haymarket, West End, Princes Street and at its terminus right in the heart of downtown - at Waverley Bridge. Skylink 300 has a longer journey and stops at Fountainbridge (West End) and Holyrood, with its terminus at the Ocean Terminal in Leith. One way adult ticket is £4.50 (~ US $ 6.10) and the return ticket is £7.50 (~ US $10.2).

There is also a night line N22 that can take you from the Airport to Ocean Terminal in Leith, stopping at West End (Lothian Road) and Scott Monument (on Princes street), for a flat fare of £3.00 (~ US $4.10).

Cab

You can pre-book a private taxi from the Edinburgh Airport online or pick up a black cab on the ground floor of the airport’s parking. The latter should cost you around £30.00 (~ US $ 40.70) to get to Princes Street. Clearly, the fare will depend on the location of your hotel or your other first destination upon arrival.

Car

You can rent a car right at the airport applying to the services of several car hire companies operating here.


Part 4. A Few Tips to Choose the Right Neighbourhood for You

Choosing the perfect neighbourhood for you to stay in in Edinburgh depends on your goal and preferences.

If you are visiting Edinburgh for the first time, or you do not have much time to explore or travel around the city, best choose Old Town or New Town to rent in. For a longer sojourn consider staying in Leith or Broughton and Calton.

New Town and Old Town are also the best neighbourhoods to rent for those who are into sightseeing. Cultural buffs will have a great time in West End.

When travelling with a family, better look for rentals in New Town, West End, Dean Village and Stockbridge, and Southside and Holyrood.

If you’re into jogging or would like to join some friendly sports games, better opt for New Town and Southside and Holyrood. Foodies will be most delighted to stay in Dean Village and Stockbridge, Broughton, and Leith. Shopaholics might opt for Old Town and New Town.

For an intense nightlife and fun pub crawls choose Old Town and New Town, while Broughton and Calton is the most LGBT-friendly area.

For budget travelers we would rather recommend Leith, Broughton and Calton, and Dean Village and Stockbridge, keeping the proximity to all the action at smaller prices. For an upscale experience though, choose to rent in West End.

If a calm and quiet vacation is what you are looking for, rent in Southside and Holyrood and Dean Village and Stockbridge. The latter is also perfect for a romantic escape with your mate, along with New Town and Old Town.

Generally, Edinburgh is a very safe city for either locals and tourists. Even at night. This does not mean that you should forget the core safety instincts, though. If safety is your concern, feel free (and safe) to choose any of the above recommended neighbourhoods and enjoy your stay!