The Best Hotels to Book near Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland

Norton House Hotel and Spa blends country vibes with a prime spot close to both Edinburgh centre and the zoo
Norton House Hotel and Spa blends country vibes with a prime spot close to both Edinburgh centre and the zoo | Courtesy of Norton House Hotel and Spa
Photo of Mark Nayler
9 September 2021

Big kids and little kids alike will love Edinburgh Zoo, the second most popular attraction in Scotland after Edinburgh Castle. Bed down in one of these top hotels within easy reach of the Corstorphine conservation centre, all bookable with Culture Trip.

Over 1,000 rare animals live in 82 acres (33ha) of hilly parkland, just west of Edinburgh city centre. In fact, Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK that houses Queensland koalas and giant pandas. Visit Tian Tian and Yang Guang in their outdoor enclosure or learn how to take nature photographs at one of their onsite workshops. We’ve put together a rundown of the best places to stay whilst you’re here.

The Torfin

Guest room at The Torfin
Courtesy of the Torfin /

The Torfin is a stylish gastropub with rooms, just a 12-minute walk from Edinburgh Zoo. Upstairs, you’ll find modern double and king-sized rooms, featuring dark blue walls, furry blankets and stag-themed art. All include breakfast, which can be delivered to your room on request. After a day at the zoo, dig into hearty grub in the dining room. The varied menu ranges from Catalan-style chicken and duck spring rolls to their signature dish – beer-battered Scottish haddock served with chips, pickled onion and tartar sauce.

The Dunstane Houses

The rooms at The Dunstane Houses are decorated in a pared-down traditional style
Courtesy of The Dunstane Houses /

Whisky fans, head this way. This is the only hotel in Edinburgh that serves Highland Park 40-year-old whisky, as part of a collection of more than 80 of the country’s finest single malts. Five-star accommodation is spread over 35 rooms in two restored Victorian townhouses, ranging in size and splendour from Cosy Wee Singles to the Dunstan Suite; survey the city and Pentland Hills from a copper bathtub in the bay window. Don’t miss the Scottish Brunch or the English-style afternoon tea.

The Edinburgh Lodge

Double room at The Edinburgh Lodge
Courtesy of The Edinburgh Lodge /

This stately building was built in 1836 as a clergyman’s house attached to the neighbouring church. It houses 14 double and twin ensuites, all of which have plush sofas, bay windows looking out to the street and marble bathrooms with walk-in rainfall showers. The Old Town and Zoo are reached with a short ride on the Number 26 or 31 buses (both stop right opposite the hotel). Breakfast is available for an extra fee and there’s free parking outside the lodge.

No.32 Hotel

Courtesy of No.32 Hotel

This welcoming boutique occupies a listed Edinburgh townhouse of dark stone and is ideally appointed for city-centre sightseeing as well as a visit to the zoo. Start off with a hearty Scottish breakfast in the dining room and finish the day with a wee dram in the bar, which is decked out with sleek leather armchairs, wood-panelling and a boxy bay window looking out on the street. Those with kids should book a Family Room, sleeping three. Haymarket train station is a two-minute walk away.

Murrayfield Hotel

Courtesy of Murrayfield Hotel

Rooms at this chic three-star exude a cool, light elegance, spread across the main hotel and a separate house just down the road. Book the Family Room sleeping four; couples should upgrade for a four-poster bed and original fireplace. The inhouse Bothy Restaurant showcases the finest of Scottish produce, from haggis and salmon to flights of malt whisky – including one focused on Johnie Walker’s finest offerings – and a variety of Scotch gin. Murrayfield Stadium is right opposite, whilst the zoo is a 20-minute walk away.

Leonardo Edinburgh Murrayfield

Courtesy of Leonardo Edinburgh Murrayfield

Equipped with its own indoor pool, the Leonardo is a great option if you want to keep the kids entertained after a trip to the zoo. There’s also a well-equipped gym, a chill-out zone with a coffee machine and newspapers, plus a sauna and steam room. The Westview Restaurant lives up to its name by offering an expansive perspective on the city’s western extremity, as well as snacks, mains and flatscreen TVs. A breakfast of berries, yoghurt, fruit and juice is available for an extra fee.

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian
Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian /
Occupying an early 1900s rail station, this five-star Hilton has a reception area dominated by black marble columns and a Titanic-style staircase. Luxury amenities include the only Guerlain spa in the UK, an indoor pool and two classy restaurants. One is centred around the seven-course tasting menu from Masterchef finalist Dean Banks, whilst the other showcases the vibrant creations of Edinburgh-born chef Mark Greenaway. Drinks are served in the piano lounge or in the club-like Caley Bar, plus cocktails and seafood are on offer at The Courtyard. The zoo is 3mi (5km) away.

Norton House Hotel and Spa

Courtesy of Norton House Hotel and Spa

Dating from 1840, this stately country manor was once owned by the Ushers, the family that founded the Glenlivet distillery as well as the Usher brewery. Bedrooms in its main building display a period design with original features, while those in the west wing favour modern sophistication. Take afternoon tea or cocktails in the Conservatory Lounge. Sample traditional dishes such as braised Scottish lamb at The Brasserie, a modern dining space decorated with contemporary art. The zoo is a 15-minute drive away.

Still unsure? See the best family-friendly hotels or stylish apartments that’ll make you feel at home in Edinburgh, now bookable via Culture Trip. Make the most of the Scottish scenery with nearby castles and breathtaking walks in the Pentland Hills, then stock up on energy in some of Edinburgh’s top restaurants.

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