Craft-beer tasting sessions, stacks of vinyl and above-the-norm dorms are on the cards at these budget-friendly bases in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh’s hostels have gone upscale, and, at times, it can be hard to tell whether you’re bedding down in a swanky hotel or a tech-forward backpacker base. You can scratch your head all day over that one. But, really, who cares when there’s bottomless coffee, ceilidh sessions, burger bars, games nights and free walking tours to tempt you? Simply put: pick the right place, and the fun and savings practically come to you.
Bottomless coffee, craft-beer tasting sessions, capsule sleeping studios and storytelling nights? Hang on a minute, what kind of hostel is this? Well, it’s the kind that also has private rooms converted from historic prison cells and courtrooms, personal keypad codes for next-level security and staff that dish up lashings of waffles at breakfast. Oh, and did we mention most beds have LED-lit headboards? The end result is a bold breath of fresh air – digital nomads, your home is here.
Right under the castle, this super-sociable hangout ticks all the budget-friendly boxes: shared bathrooms (check), guest kitchen (check), common room (that, too). Where it differs is its party-starting burger bar, games nights, free walking tours and pub crawls three times a week. Tip: the rambling staircase next door, from the Vennel to Flodden Wall, is Rebus author Ian Rankin’s favourite city view.
More a traditional hostel of the party-free YHA variety, this back-to-basics bolthole is in a prime location for Haymarket Station and all the boutique wonders of the West End. It has multiple dorms and can squeeze in more than 100 guests in total, so it is perfect for bumper-sized groups – particularly those from schools, universities and team sports on tour.
Part-student union, part-24/7 aparthotel, this super-sized hostel has plenty of tricks up its sleeves. Start with a giant, welcoming reception, a pub kitchen, a beer garden and Ping-Pong and pool tables, then move upstairs to locker-divided dorms and calming private rooms. It’s part of a wide-ranging hostel chain – with outposts across Europe – so the team knows what they’re doing. The result? A pleased-as-punch backpacker crowd.
It’s hardly a rarity in Edinburgh for a beautifully set 19th-century house to be converted and given over to well-to-do visitors. One opened up for wide-eyed backpackers, on the other hand, is rarer than hen’s teeth. The history remains on show in the posh lounge – there are a grand piano and a fireplace – plus, you might be able to pick up an Edinburgh literary classic from the free book exchange. There are also a sociable common room and pub crawls, and pool competitions and ceilidhs are part of the hostel’s weekly rhythm. To cap it off, there are talking-point museum-piece suits of armour and a music room with stacks of vinyl.
A guesthouse for friends and families in the historic Canonmills suburbs, this backpacker-free Georgian townhouse is tastefully upscale. Dorms are done away with here in favour of rooms with single beds that sleep your nearest and dearest. Some rooms have private en-suites and views overlooking the garden. All are poised for morning jogs around the neighbouring Royal Botanic Gardens and Inverleith Park. For a locals’ night out, tramp along the Water of Leith to gentrified Stockbridge.
Billed as Edinburgh’s first genuine boutique hostel, the two Scots brothers behind the Baxter might well have a point. It’s slap bang central – sandwiched between Waverley Station and St Andrews Square – and comes kitted-out with hotel-worthy fixtures and fittings. There’s an industrial look to the mixed-bed and female-only dorms, while the custom-built kitchen lounge has day beds, a Sonos system and the air of a classy hotel cafe.
St Christopher’s on Market Street is many things at the same time. It’s a hangout with drink deals and stacked burgers at the hostel bar Belushi’s. It’s a 24/7, full-service guesthouse with classic dorm-room looks. And, it’s a place for solo travellers to team up with free walking tours and pub crawls that work a treat. Location-wise, everything is in easy walking distance, with Princes Street Gardens and the trains of Waverley Station right out front.