Edinburgh’s hotels are a grand bunch, with many housed in magnificent historic buildings. The Old Town area features narrow alleys, Medieval townhouses and the high crag upon which the castle perches. The New Town is more genteel and elegant, with Georgian crescents and leafy avenues. Wherever you stay, you’ll encounter warm Scottish hospitality, as well as the legendary full Scottish breakfast.
Principal Edinburgh George Street
The Principal Edinburgh George Street offers cosy rooms and modern amenities | Courtesy of Principal Edinburgh George Street / Hotels.com
The Principal is New Town at its most remarkable. A short stroll from Princes Street on spacious George Street, the hotel is housed in five townhouses that were built back in 1775. The luxurious rooms and suites combine traditional grandeur with modern comforts, and they’re decorated with an eye to the Scottish landscape in subtle shades of forest fern and mountain heather. The hotel’s Printing Press Bar & Kitchen has a beautiful stucco ceiling and serves modern Scottish food.
Perhaps Edinburgh’s most luxurious accommodation, Prestonfield House offers country charm and seclusion near the heart of the city – this 1687 gabled mansion lies by Duddingston Loch under the crags of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s very own wilderness. The hotel’s decor is lavish and borderline kitsch, with antiques and generous swaths of fabric at every turn, while rooms are opulent. Gourmet dinner in the Regency-style Rhubarb restaurant is part of the experience.
Gracious Charlotte Square sits at the western end of George Street. The splendid Georgian facade conceals a surprisingly light and funky interior, with splashes of bold colour, bright tiles, rugs and contemporary artworks. The garden is lush with plants, creating a private green space for reading and relaxing. In addition to the guest rooms and suites, the hotel has a pool and spa.
Head to the city’s West End near Haymarket station to find these two Victorian townhouses, combined to form an intimate hotel that reflects the owners’ Orkney roots. A vintage whisky cabinet holds a fantastic collection of single malts, while the restaurant serves Orkney scallops, haggis bonbons and other northern Scottish delights. Elegant rooms are decorated in a pared-down traditional style.
The revived waterside district of Leith is the setting for these serviced apartments – they sit just off Leith Walk, the artery that runs from the city centre to the harbour, where some of the city’s best restaurants have sprung up. The monochrome modernised Baroque decor may be a bit harsh for some tastes, but the facilities and views are terrific. Oakhill rents out everything from one-bed apartments to townhouses for families.
Now for something completely different – a Victorian church stylishly transformed into a boutique hotel. The Glasshouse is in a wonderful location, near the east end of Princes Street and underneath the green slopes of Calton Hill. Rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows and some of the best views in the city. In the hotel’s lounge, The Snug, you can sip rare single malts around the fire pit – the lounge opens onto the hotel’s expansive rooftop garden.
This smart urban hotel is on the city’s Southside, a short walk from both the wide open spaces of Holyrood Park and the tourist honeypot of the Royal Mile. A Georgian facade conceals a thoroughly modern hotel, with calm interiors brightened by pops of orange and turquoise. The price is great for the location.
To generations of Edinburgh folk, this handsome building perched above Waverley station means just one thing: The Scotsman newspaper. But the paper moved on, and the decorators moved in several years ago, keeping the luxurious marble, stained glass and panelling of the earlier incarnation. They transformed the space into a grand hotel, inserting a café with a period Parisian feel, plus lovely modern-with-a-traditional-twist rooms and suites. Views of Princes Street, a central location and historic interest combine to make this one of Edinburgh’s best hotels.
For visitors prepared to stay a little way from the centre, leafy Stockbridge with its vintage shops and riverside walks is an excellent choice. An elegant Georgian townhouse is the setting for the Nira Caledonia, with rooms looking onto lush gardens and the surrounding sandstone terraces. The boutique hotel offers singles, doubles and suites, with the most opulent suite featuring a Jacuzzi.
Lauderville Guest House is a warmly welcoming option with hotel-standard facilities – it lies a mile south of the centre, within walking distance if you don’t mind starting your day with a pleasant wander. The rooms are cosy and traditional with a few lavish twists; the four-poster guest room is at the fancier end of things, with swags of materials surrounding the bed. Guests rave about the buffet breakfast.
Edinburgh is known for its characterful streetscapes, and Cockburn Street, arcing up from Waverley station, is one of the most striking examples. The Inn Place was once the printworks for The Scotsman newspaper, and you’ll still see the paper’s gilded masthead on the exterior of the building. The hotel features minimalist modern bedrooms, and while the functional decor isn’t for everyone, the location is an absolute winner.
Head to Prestonfield in Edinburgh’s Southside to find this large, attractive Victorian stone villa. The budget-friendly rooms are contemporary in style. Edinburgh Sixteen is a 15-minute bus ride to the centre and makes for a good base from which to explore the wild green side of the city around Duddingston Loch.
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Rugby fans who’ve come to the city to see a game at Murrayfield could opt for the handsome Edinburgh Lodge in the West End. If you’re looking for Scottish decor, you can find your fix here – the style is modern, with some eye-popping tartan carpets. It is a cosy, clean and quiet guest house, where you can savour a hearty full Scottish breakfast.
These chic suites sit in the beating heart of the New Town, just a few blocks back from Princes Street. All rooms are decked out in soothing shades of cream and grey, with each featuring a sofa and stylish bathroom. The suites make a good option for Edinburgh Festival-goers who want to be in the middle of the action.
Edging just into the West End, a short stroll from Princes Street and the castle, The Malt House Apartments consists of one- and two-bedroom apartments that are situated in what was once a whisky warehouse. While the apartments have undergone thorough renovations, the stone exterior looks pretty much as it would have back in 1850. All the apartments are comfortably furnished in an unobtrusive modern style. It’s a self-service option, but you’ll find plenty of cafés nearby for breakfast if you don’t feel like cooking.