A JK Rowling Suite, where the author wrote the final chapters of Harry Potter, is just one possibility for a family getaway in Edinburgh in Scotland. With visits to the castle, the dino-filled National Museum of Scotland and ghost-haunted royal palace to fill your days, find a child-friendly option for a place to stay.
From Apex Grassmarket there are so-close-you-can-touch views of fairytale Edinburgh Castle that will capture the kids’ imaginations, and then there are the fluffy pancakes at the breakfast buffet. A hop, skip and jump away, you will be able to see optical illusions at the Camera Obscura and the dinosaurs and monstrous whalebones at the National Museum of Scotland. Need an extra sweetener? The rubber duck for bathtime is yours to take home.
A 30-minute drive from the centre, this former castle, former home of a Scottish lord, offers a chance for fresh air and kiddie-friendly activities beyond the city limits. In the grounds there’s a spider’s web of forest walks, leisure club with pool, a toddler playground and pitch-and-putt. Close by is Jupiter Artland (for madcap outdoor sculpture) and the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (the largest in Europe and superbly set up for all pint-sized daredevils). The main event, for mums and dads, is two championship golf courses. For younger guests, there’s also indoor camping and a kids-only afternoon tea.
Home to Peggy, a golden labradoodle, this boutique guesthouse is a family’s home-away-from-home. The good-natured hospitality will put you at your ease. Rooms have a modern Scottish aesthetic (muted greys, handpicked artworks, luxe fabrics), but it’s the Wee Dram that’s the star turn for little ones: bunk beds, starry skylight, toy chest, tuck-shop tray and Xbox. Edinburgh’s craggy volcano Arthur’s Seat is nearby for a bracing, Highland-style yomp to tire the kids out before bed.
Part-country home, part-Edinburgh airport stopover (it’s just five minutes away, after all), the scene here is a mix of afternoon teas on the front lawn and muddy-boot strolls across 55 acres (22ha) of woodland with a picnic hamper. It feel like a castle, but kids feel right at home here – something to do with popcorn-fuelled film nights, free Sunday lunches and family swim times at the pool perhaps. The interconnected rooms are a blessing for tired-out parents.
Of the near 200 rooms at this fairytale address, the one that’ll impress the kids most is the JK Rowling Suite, where the long-time city resident wrote the final chapters of the Harry Potter saga. The suite, with owl-shaped door knocker, star-filled hallway, Rapunzel-turret alcoves and vintage typewriter, is the stuff of dreams, and the rest of the hotel plays up to the children’s fiction theme. Service levels are Mary Poppins-esque and there is an inspired Le Petit Prince menu at Brasserie Prince. Fast-track tickets to perpetually packed Edinburgh Castle are on the house and a handy bonus if you book a suite.
Ideal for teens and big kids, this funky and fun city-centre escape is a dolly mixture of rooms and visual treats; comfy doubles and twins come wallpapered with larger-than-life Dandy comic book strips or magnetic wall-size maps of Edinburgh. All have chocolate-mallow Tunnock’s tea cakes to inhale as a bedtime treat and the downstairs reception-cum-hangout is a mishmash of high school tuck shop and Scots comic library. Open the door, and now, you have all of Edinburgh’s storied nooks and crannies to explore.
From the home-from-home street-level lounge bar to the self-catering apartments with games boxes and mini garden, The Rutland encourages your family to feel at ease. The building is Edwardian vintage, and has been at the nexus of West End life for aeons. For that capital buzz, its Shandwick Place location brings in an army of locals for coffee and cocktails. Its Kyloe restaurant serves sizzling steaks. From Princes Street Gardens, buses shuttle right past the front door to the pandas, pin-striped tigers and pygmy hippos of Edinburgh Zoo.
Pack the swimming gear and prepare for whoops and giggles as your water babies cannonball into the indoor pool, which has striking castle views. You might also find the kids entranced by the former railway station ticketing hall, where you can have a family-friendly afternoon tea. Attractions (Edinburgh Dungeon, Dynamic Earth, Princes Street Gardens) within easy reach offer plenty of family-friendly activities if you fancy stepping outside the hotel.
This all-apartment residence with a pick-and-mix of two- and three-bed flats and penthouses means all family sizes are catered for (you can even bring the dog, too). The attractions outside – haunted Palace of Holyroodhouse, curio-filled National Museum of Scotland, rocket-shaped Scott Monument – can be a preamble to a lazy afternoon in your room, either al fresco on the balcony or playing hide-and-seek in your suite. Pick of the apartments is the 15th-century Townhouse, refreshed with copper bathtub and open-plan kitchen, yet still straight from the pages of a Robert Louis Stevenson classic.