Edinburgh city is the perfect destination for travellers who want to soak up the old Scottish history plus experience the new Scotland. You can wander through the cobbled streets, take in the sights and sip drams of Scotch whisky. And, you can also discover Edinburgh’s exciting, thriving arts scene and the friendliest locals.
Scotland’s capital is popular for the iconic Edinburgh Castle as well as other popular landmarks. For instance, Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street Gardens, the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Yacht Britannia and Calton Hill. Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world and the city swells by the millions every August. Visitors come looking to enjoy theatre and see comedy shows with a warm, friendly Scots welcome.
Additionally, if you are also visiting Glasgow, check our guide here!
It might be puzzling for travellers to determine where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s a relatively small capital city with most neighbourhoods in Edinburgh within walking distance of each other. Most of the landmarks are concentrated in Edinburgh’s Old Town on the lively Royal Mile and there are plenty of hotels near them. But this may not be an ideal area if you want to find the best place in Edinburgh to stay on a budget. Choosing to stay in neighbourhoods slightly outside of Old Town and New Town (city centre) will allow you to experience the city like a local.
These are some of the best neighbourhoods in Edinburgh with different qualities to suit different interests. They include some of the best places to stay in Edinburgh city centre and the top hotels in Edinburgh. But no matter how you determine where to stay in Edinburgh city centre, without a doubt, you will have a memorable trip to the charming Scottish capital.
The Royal Mile – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for First Time Visitors
Certainly, the best neighbourhood to stay in the city, if it’s your first visit, is the Royal Mile in Old Town (or very nearby). The Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s popular High Street in Old Town. It begins at the heart of the city, Edinburgh Castle to the West and ends at the Scottish Parliament to the East. It’s nicknamed the Royal Mile thanks to an array of significant monuments and buildings located on the mile-long street.
In this part of the city, you are within walking distance to Grassmarket where you’ll find lots of traditional Scottish pubs. The Royal Mile is also a short walk away from St Giles’ Cathedral and the huge selection of tartan, vintage and gift shops on Cockburn Street selling local Scottish souvenirs.
Furthermore, choosing to stay on the Royal Mile in Old Town, most of the area’s main attractions as well as the meeting point for walking tours will be right on your doorstep. These are some fantastic hotels to help you decide where to stay in Edinburgh’s Old Town on the Royal Mile.
Best Hotels in The Royal Mile
Luxury: Fraser Suites
Sharing its name with a Scottish clan, Fraser Suites is one of the best hotels in Edinburgh. The hotel’s location is right on the Royal Mile near Edinburgh Castle and The Witchery which is a fantastic fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar. It’s won multiple Green Tourism Awards and is an accessible Victorian building. The hotel is near many public transport options, both trains and buses, and offers beautiful city views over New Town.
Mid-Range: Ten Hill Place
Ten Hill Place is just off the Royal Mile in Old Town, specifically the Surgeon’s Quarter. Moreover, is one of the best places to stay in Edinburgh. It’s a socially conscious hotel owned by the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. In addition, all profits from the hotel go towards training surgeons around the world. This beautiful, modern hotel in Edinburgh also offers a great breakfast.
Budget: Holyrood ApartHotel
If you’re looking for where to stay in Edinburgh with family on the Royal Mile, then Holyrood ApartHotel might just be the best place. This accommodation option provides the space of an apartment with the convenience of a hotel. It’s near all the top things to do in Edinburgh including Edinburgh Castle and Palace of Holyrood House. Also, the ApartHotel has passed several sustainability benchmarks including fantastic waste management and energy efficiency.
New Town – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for Nightlife
Edinburgh New Town is the most buzzing part of Edinburgh city centre with plenty of activities and things to do, especially at night. Princes Street is lined with all the top high street shops and you’ll find a selection of chic cocktail bars on George Street. New Town and Old Town are separated by Edinburgh Waverley Train Station, so you’ll be close to good transport connections. New Town also has some of the best hotels in Edinburgh city centre.
Despite its name, most of New Town is around 200 years old so the sandstone and the streets are very picturesque. New Town is home to two of Edinburgh’s most popular places to visit in Edinburgh city centre, Calton Hill and Princes Street Gardens.
When deciding where to stay in Old Town or New Town, keep in mind New Town has the most hotels in central Edinburgh. New Town is the best area to stay in Edinburgh if you want to stay in a luxury hotel or one of the cheaper places to stay in Edinburgh.
Best Hotels in New Town
Luxury: The Balmoral
The Balmoral on Princes Street is an Edinburgh institution with its decadent and luxurious suites and it’s also a gold winner at the Green Tourism Awards. The pioneering hotel next to Edinburgh Waverley Train Station keeps bees on the roof to pollinate their own vegetable garden. They also serve homemade honey in their Michelin-starred restaurant. If you only plan on visiting Edinburgh once, this is one of the best places to stay.
Mid-Range: Rabble Rooms
Rabble Rooms is an independently-owned stylish, boutique hotel. It is the best place to stay in Edinburgh if you want a contemporary, environmentally-conscious hotel in New Town. Their restaurant uses exclusively Scottish meat as well as seafood in their dishes. Furthermore, they are committed to being able to trace their produce to the source. You’ll really love their soft, comfortable beds and their helpful facilities like breakfast grab bags if you need to eat and run.
Budget: Old Waverley Hotel
This hotel is one of the best cheap places to stay in Edinburgh in the city centre for travelers on a budget. Old Waverley Hotel is an independent, unfussy lodging option offering excellent breakfasts and Wifi at no extra cost. And it’s only a short walk from Princes Street Gardens and Scott Monument. This hotel is one of the top hotels in the city centre for a cheap, one night stay in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Stockbridge – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for Culture Lovers
Stockbridge is Edinburgh’s hipster neighbourhood in the West End with lots of cool independent cafes and upmarket residential streets. It’s a more laid-back alternative to the often-congested Royal Mile in Old Town. The Royal Botanic Garden and the charmingly quaint Dean Village are nearby places of interest.
Stockbridge is on the banks of the Water of Leith. This neighbourhood is home to Edinburgh’s most Instagrammed street, Circus Lane. It’s a gorgeous cobbled lane with Victorian as well as Edwardian buildings adorned with greenery. This is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for couples or second-time visitors who want to explore a new neighbourhood in the West End but stay within a few minutes walk of the vibrant New Town.
Hotels in Stockbridge
Luxury: The Bonham
A stone’s throw from Dean Village, The Bonham is in an ideal location for a relaxing getaway. It’s a grand yet cozy hotel with lots of luxe plush furnishings. The Bonham Hotel is one of the few luxury Edinburgh hotels making a difference in the community. They support several local charities and causes, including Edinburgh Zoo. It’s also one of the best hotels in the city for their commitment to lowering food waste.
Mid-Range: Nira Caledonia
Nira Caledonia is one of the most sustainable hotels in Edinburgh and is a fantastic mid-range option in Stockbridge. This hotel continues to make environmentally motivated swaps which include switching to recyclable coffee pods and larger, refillable toiletries in every room and suite. It’s the best place to stay if you want an on-trend, modern hotel near lots of top restaurants and cafes.
Budget: New Town Guest House
Despite its name, New Town Guest House is one of Stockbridge’s most affordable hotels and one of the best, cheapest places to stay in Edinburgh. The guesthouse operates independently and has cheerful, decorative bright rooms. The Royal Botanic Garden and Water of Leith are both only 10 minutes walk away.
Leith – Where to Stay in Edinburgh for Foodies
Not long ago, Leith was a deserted, working-class Edinburgh neighbourhood utilised as a gritty backdrop for the Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting. But today, Leith is Edinburgh’s most up-and-coming neighbourhood and just a 20-minute bus ride from the city centre. Most visitors head to Leith to explore the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is permanently docked there. Additionally, it’s also a fantastic area to stay in Edinburgh on a budget or for a more local experience.
Furthermore, Leith has undergone extensive regeneration in the last few years. The area offers an assortment of Michelin-starred seafood restaurants, delicious brunch spots and renovated traditional gastropubs. It’s also the only Edinburgh neighbourhood with a beach and a beautiful promenade called Leith Walkway. So, it’s an ideal place to stay in Edinburgh during the summer.
Hotels in Leith
This luxurious, ship hotel is permanently moored in Leith’s Docks and is possibly the best luxury hotel in Edinburgh. Fingal was a former Lighthouse maintenance ship which has been upcycled and refurbished into a 5-star boutique hotel. It boasts Titanic-levels of grandeur with up-to-date, Scottish design. The ship hotel is one of the best places to stay in Edinburgh for a truly memorable trip.
Mid-Range: Straven Guesthouse
The ideal mid-range accommodation option in Leith, this cozy townhouse Bed and Breakfast is run by locals who want to play their part in helping the planet. Straven Guesthouse is one of the best places to stay in Edinburgh that also has an eco-policy.
The policy includes screening all of their suppliers and stocking fair trade, local as well as organic produce wherever possible. Their energy is also 100% from renewable sources. The hotel is close to public transport routes meaning it’s easy to reach Edinburgh’s city centre and the airport.
Budget: GPO Cafe & Rooms
This unique budget hotel is in a former Post Office and the hotel maintains many of its original features. GPO Cafe & Rooms is a small, local business offering great value to visitors at low prices. It’s the best place to stay close to the Leith port and all the best bistros and bars in Leith, Edinburgh.
So, where should I stay in Edinburgh?
In conclusion, the best place to stay in Edinburgh near the top attractions is the Royal Mile in Old Town. Edinburgh’s New Town has the most accommodation options and is a five-minute walk to the Old Town and Edinburgh Waverley Station.
Stockbridge and Leith are both ideal Edinburgh neighbourhoods for foodies. Though Stockbridge is a quieter, more upmarket area and Leith is a buzzing portside neighbourhood. All neighbourhoods are well-connected to the rest of the capital by an extensive bus network.
Has this guide helped you decide where to stay in Edinburgh? Which neighbourhood looks the best to you?
About the Author: Rebecca Sharp is from the Lake District in the UK living a location independent lifestyle as a freelance content creator. She’s also a film and travel blogger documenting her adventures at film festivals and filming locations at Almost Ginger. She aims to inspire and help other film & TV fans turn their silver screen escapes into a reality. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Twitter.