A complete guide that will help you to decide where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland (including the best areas and places for sightseeing, nightlife and Christmas).
Edinburgh is not only the capital of Scotland, but it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the country. The city has a very distinctive look because of its dark sandstone buildings. In fact, Edinburgh is a wonderful mix of medieval, Victorian and Georgian architecture.
It’s a city that you’ll fall in love with at first look. The medieval Old Town with its gorgeous castle sits side by side the elegant Georgian New Town. Both districts are ideal for tourists but have their own charm and advantages.
Want to know what is the perfect place to stay in Edinburgh for you? Follow my guide to find out the best areas for sightseeing, nightlife and Christmas. In addition, you’ll find some great hotels near Waverley Station and Edinburgh Castle, too.
Where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland (for first time)
- Edinburgh Old Town – for sightseeing
- Waverley Station – for convenient transport links and day trips
- Cowgate, Grassmarket – for nightlife
- New Town (George and Rose Streets) – for nightlife and Christmas markets
During my trip to Edinburgh, I stayed near Calton Hill. I chose this area because it’s close to everything. It’s right between the Old and the New Town. Plus, Waverley Station is at walking distance. And after dinner, you can easily go and watch the sunset from Calton Hill (don’t miss it).
Also, if you plan a lot of day trips by train, staying near Waverley Station is the best option.
Most popular hotel in Edinburgh
In a hurry? Looking for a great hotel with a perfect location and a good rating?
Then check out Radisson Blu – it’s the most popular hotel.
Radisson Blu is centrally located in the heart of the Royal Mile, just a short walk from all main sites. Plus, the hotel features an indoor swimming pool, private parking and a bar.
Why book – 600m from the castle, spa and wellness centre, private parking on-site, great facilities
Old Town – best area to stay in Edinburgh for tourists
Old Town and the Royal Mile is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for sightseeing (especially for first-timers). While the New Town with its numerous restaurants is an excellent location for shopping and dining out.
Edinburgh City Centre consists of the Historical Old Town and the New Town. They are separated by the Princes Street Gardens and are at a walkable distance from each other.
The Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets stretched along the famous Royal Mile. Here you’ll find the most famous city’s attractions. The area still keeps the medieval spirit of the city. Thus, if you want history, go for the Old Town.
The New Town features neoclassical and Georgian architecture. Most of the buildings are from the 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.
However, for me, 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 – the Castle and Holyroodhouse.
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 closes) extend the main street. You can’t make a single step without running into a famous landmark.
If you stay on 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.
Benefits of staying in Edinburgh Old Town
- You’ll be in the very heart of the city and close to everything. This is the best area to stay in Edinburgh if you are visiting the city for the first time.
- All the must-see sites are here: the Royal Mile, the Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral, Greyfriars Kirk, Holyrood Palace and much more.
- Waverley bus and railway stations are also here. This is very convenient if you are planning any day trips.
- 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.
Recommended hotels near Edinburgh Castle
Hotels near the Castle (Best for couples)
The Apex City Hotel is situated 200m away from the castle. It’s a perfect base to explore the city as you can walk anywhere. In addition, location is convenient for the transport links at Waverley Train Station.
Why book – 200m from the castle, private parking on-site, good breakfast
Ibis South Bridge Hotel offers a central location at a great price. Rooms are quiet and comfortable, a typical size for the city. The breakfast features organic and free-range food. Plus, there is a 24-hour bar!
Why book – 500m from the castle, restaurant, 24-hour front desk, professional staff
Hotels near the Castle (Best for families)
Radisson Blu is one of the most popular hotels near Edinburgh Castle. Location is more than perfect – in the heart of the Royal Mile, just a short walk from all main sites. Plus, the hotel features an indoor heated swimming pool (child-friendly), sauna and steam room. The perfect base to explore Edinburgh for families.
Why book – 600m from the castle, Spa and wellness centre, private parking on-site, great facilities
Fraser Suites combines a homely atmosphere with a top location – only 350m away from the castle and just steps down to Waverley. Every room is equipped with a kitchenette, so you can easily make your own coffee, tea or snacks. Some of the rooms feature amazing city views.
Why book – 350m from the castle, iPod dock, 24-hour front desk, city views
Luxury hotels near Edinburgh Castle
Radisson Collection Royal Mile is a modern 5-star hotel, less than 250m away from the castle. The spacious rooms feature classic Scottish design and striking views of the city. The restaurant on site offers excellent gluten-free choices.
Why book – 250m from the castle, private parking on-site, exceptional staff
The Witchery by the Castle is one of the most lavish hotels in the city. Located only 50m away from the castle, this 5-star hotel features unique luxurious rooms. If you look for a special place to stay with your loved one, don’t look further.
Why book – 50m from the castle, restaurant on-site, opulent themed rooms
Apartments in the Historic Old Town
5-star luxury serviced apartments that offer a home-from-home experience. Location is more than ideal – right next to the Royal Mile.
Why book – 400m from the castle, parking nearby, attentive staff, boutique apartments
These stylish apartments are next to the famous Harry Potter’s birthplace – The Elephant House. Easy access to the castle and the Royal Mile.
Why book – convenient location, 400m from the castle
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 Waverley Station to find the place for you. All of them are located less than 5 minutes away from the railway station.
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.
Why book – central location, 150m from Waverley, 24-hour front desk, comfortable rooms
Motel One Princes overlooks the beautiful Princes Street Gardens. Its design combines sumptuous candelabras with velvet furniture. The second-floor bar reveals amazing views of the famous Princes Street.
Why book – 160m from Waverley, 24-hour front desk, stylish rooms
The hotel is just a few steps away from Waverley Station. The elegant 19th-century building of the hotel features modern and spacious rooms.
Why book – 50m from Waverley, restaurant on-site, spacious rooms, responsive staff
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 – fancy bars or traditional pubs.
Where to stay in Edinburgh for nightlife
- Cowgate and Grassmarket – a popular area in the Old Town with lots of bars and pubs
- George and Rose Streets – the best location for nightlife in the New Town (with many fancy bars and gourmet restaurants)
Cowgate and Grassmarket
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.
The hotel is right in the middle of Grassmarket area and a just a few minutes walk to the Royal Mile. Close to many restaurants, pubs and supermarkets. Some of the rooms feature awesome views of the castle.
Why book – located on Grassmarket Street, great swimming pool, private parking on-site, castle view
George and Rose Streets
George and Rose Streets are the main nightlife areas in the New Town. 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.
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. The area is also close to Calton Hill and Dean Village.
Overlooking at St Andrew Square, this hotel is a great base to explore the New Town. It’s close to restaurants, bars and the Edinburgh castle. The contemporary rooms feature traditional Scottish design.
Why book – located on St Andrew Square, 24-hour front desk, helpful staff
New Town – 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 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.
Benefits of staying in Edinburgh New Town
- you’ll be at a short walk from the three main Christmas markets and the ice rink
- close to many restaurants and bars (the New Town is the ideal location for dining out)
- convenient area for transport links (Waverley Station is at hand)
- the major tourist attractions are at less than a 10min walk
Located next to the ice rink at St Andrew Square, this hotel is a great base to explore the Christmas Markets. The modern rooms feature high ceilings and original windows. It’s the perfect place to stay for a romantic Christmas in Edinburgh.
Why book – next to St Andrew Square, restaurant and bar on-site, huge beds
Located on George Street, this 4-star lovely hotel is centrally located to all Christmas markets. The elegant rooms are comfy and spacious.
Why book – next to George Street, 24-hour front desk, elegant rooms
If you look for a spacious and luxury room with a classical design, then Principal George Street Hotel is the place for you. Housed in a Georgian townhouse from the 18th century, the hotel offers everything you need for an unforgettable stay.
Why book – on George Street, bar and restaurant on-site, excellent rooms, incredible staff