Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town

best area to stay in Edinburgh

Where to stay in Edinburgh: a quick guide to finding the best location to stay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is not only the capital of Scotland, but it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the country. The city became a capital of Scotland in 1437. Its nickname, Auld Reekie (Old Smoky), comes from the constant burning of coals and wood in the city’s homes.

Edinburgh has a very distinctive look because of its dark sandstone buildings. The city is a wonderful mix of medieval, Victorian and Georgian architecture.

The best area to stay in Edinburgh for tourists

Royal Mile

The best place to stay in Edinburgh for sightseeing is the Old Town, near the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is the main street that connects two royal residences – Edinburgh Castle and Holyroodhouse Palace. This was the heart of medieval Edinburgh. Thus you can imagine that all the important buildings were constructed around the Royal Mile. Small alleyways and courtyards (called close) extend the main street.

If you stay near the Royal Mile, you’ll able to reach the most famous attractions by foot within 10-15 minutes. No matter if you’re visiting the city for a weekend getaway or a longer trip, the Old Town is the best possible choice.

Check out hotels in the Old Town here


The best place to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife

Both the Old and the New town have main nightlife areas. It all depends on what are you looking for.

Cowgate and Grassmarket in the Old Town are full of bars and pubs, as well as many restaurants all within walking distance. The area is great for large groups.

Check out hotels in the Old Town here

If you prefer fancier bars and gourmet restaurants, the New Town is the perfect place for you. The area is filled with trendy bars and designers stores. George and Rose Streets are the main nightlife areas in the New Town.

Check out hotels in the New Town here


Where to stay in Edinburgh at Christmas

Edinburgh turns into a medieval fairytale wonderland during the Christmas time. There are three main Christmas Markets – the Scottish Market on George Street, the European Market in the Mound Precinct and Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens. All of them are in or around the New Town. Also St Andrew Square hosts an oval ice rink. Thus if you are in the city for the Christmas markets, choose a place in the New Town.

Check out hotels in the New Town here


Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town

Both the New and the Old Town are part of the City Centre. They are separated by the Princes Street Gardens and are at a walkable distance from each other. But how to decide which one to choose?

The Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets stretched along the famous Royal Mile. Here you’ll find the most famous attractions in Edinburgh. The area still keeps the medieval spirit of the city. Thus, if you want a history, go for the Old Town.

Check out the best hotels and apartments in the Old Town

The New Town features neoclassical and Georgian architecture. Most of the buildings are from 18th and 19th centuries. The area is full of sophisticated designer shops, antique shops, chic bars and restaurants. If you search for shopping and dining, choose the New Town.

Check out the coolest hotels and apartments in the New Town


Where I stayed

During my first trip to Edinburgh, I stayed in a residential area very close to Calton Hill. On one hand, it was nice, because after dinner I could go and watch the sunset from Calton Hill. On the other side, I was too tired to go back and explore the city at night. The next time I will definitely stay in the New Town.

Hotels near Edinburgh Waverley Station

Waverley Station lies between the Old and the New Town. If you’re planning to explore Scotland by train, this is the perfect location. Check out these hand-picked hotels near Edinburgh Waverley Station to find the place for you. All of them are located less than 5 minutes away from the railway station.


Motel One Edinburgh-Princes

Motel One Edinburgh-Princes overlooks the beautiful Princes Street Gardens. Its design combines sumptuous candelabras with velvet furniture. The second-floor bar reveals amazing views over the famous Princes Street.

9.2/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


Motel One Edinburgh-Royal

The motel is not only close to Waverley Station but also just a few blocks away from the Royal Mile. It’s the ideal choice if you search for a place near the station, yet close to all attractions.

9.0/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


The Inn Place

The hotel is located on Cockburn, right between the Royal Mile and Waverley Station. The elegant 19th-century building of the hotel features modern and spacious rooms.

9.0/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


The best area to stay in Edinburgh map

Old Town

Old Town

This is the place, where the history of Edinburgh started centuries ago. You can’t make a single step without running into a famous landmark. Take a walk on the famous Royal Mile and enjoy the stunning medieval architecture.

Choose the Old Town

If you want to be in the very heart of Edinburgh and close to everything. This is the best area to stay in Edinburgh if you are visiting the city for the first time.

Highlights

  • All the must-see sites are here: the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral, Greyfriars Kirk, Holyrood Palace and much more.
  • Edinburgh Waverley bus and railway stations are also here. This is very convenient if you are planning any day trips from Edinburgh.
  • Some of the landmarks are illuminated at night. Thus a walk late in the evening in the Old Town is a great way to see the beauty of the city at night.
  • Victoria Street, one of the most beautiful streets in Edinburgh, is in the Old Town.
  • Don’t miss to try the breakfast at Hula Juice Bar & Gallery, some doughnuts at Baba Budan and some delicious gelato at Mary’s Milk Bar.
  • Start your day with the amazing coffee at the Milkman.
  • For you, pork meat lovers, go to Oink.

Where to stay in Edinburgh, Old Town


Luxury & boutique hotels near Edinburgh Castle


The Witchery by the Castle – a fabulous 5-star hotel featuring unique luxurious rooms.
9.5/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


G&V Royal Mile Hotel – a 5-star hotel featuring classic Scottish design and striking views of the city.
9.0/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


Mid-range hotels near the Royal Mile


Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel – a perfect base for exploring the city centre with a convenient location for the transport links at Waverley Train Station.
8.8/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


The Inn on the Mile – a boutique 4-star hotel located on the historic Royal Mile in the heart of the city.
9.0/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


Apartments near Edinburgh Castle


Old Town Chambers – 5-star luxury serviced apartments offering a home-from-home experience.
9.3/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


The Knight Residence by Mansley Serviced Apartments – spacious and stylish apartments with a parking space.
9.5/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


New Town

New Town

As the name suggests this part of the city is newer than the Old Town. Yet, it is not quite new. The New Town is built around the 18th century and it is a splendid example of the Georgian architecture. It is a walkable distance from the Old Town. This is the best place to stay in Edinburgh if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the Old Town. The New Town is my favourite area to stay in Edinburgh.

Choose the New Town

If you are searching for a calmer place, close to the main attractions and filled with trendy restaurants and bars.

Highlights

  • The main landmarks are in a walking distance from the New Town. You are also closer to Calton Hill and Dean Village.
  • The area is filled with boutique shops and designer stores.
  • If you are travelling from Glasgow, the buses stop here, at Edinburgh Bus Station.
  • For tasty Mexican food go to El Cartel, for Indian – Dishoom Edinburgh.
  • Don’t miss the cookies at Ben’s Cookies and the cocktails at Panda & Sons.

Where to stay in the New Town


Luxury & boutique hotels


The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square – a 5-star luxury hotel housed in seven inter-connecting Georgian townhouses in the heart of the New Town.
9.2/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


The Balmoral Hotel – an ideal base for the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
9.2/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


Mid-range hotels


Tigerlily – a 4-star boutique hotel featuring an amazing bar and restaurant.
9.2/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


The Rutland Hotel – a 4-star hotel with a unique charm, the perfect place for a romantic getaway or city shopping break.
9.2/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


Apartments


Destiny Scotland -The Malt House Apartments – modern and centrally located apartments.
9.1/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


Princes Street Suites – modern apartments with fully equipped kitchen and spacious living area.
9.1/10 Rating – See reviews on Agoda.com    |    Booking.com


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Things to do

3 perfect days in Edinburgh

Take a day tour to Loch Ness and Highlands, the most picturesque region of Scotland. See more Highland tours from Edinburgh.

I recommend these tours


How to get from Edinburgh airport to the city centre

The Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is about 15km from the city centre. The easiest way to reach it is by using the Airlink buses.

See more options to get to the Edinburgh Airport.


What are the best places to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland for you?

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Where to stay in Edinburgh – the best places to stay in Edinburgh

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About the author

Avatar Milena Yordanova
I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.

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