Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town

Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town

Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town

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.

Where I stayed

During my first 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).

My favourite hotel in this area is Apex Waterloo Place. It has an amazing location and the amenities are superb.

The best area to stay in Edinburgh for tourists

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 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 closes) 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.

Royal Mile

Hotels near Edinburgh Castle

Apex City – Well priced 4-star
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.

8.8/10 Rating – See hotel images and 3,330+ guest reviews

The Witchery by the Castle – Closest to the castle
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.

9.4/10 Rating – See hotel images and 270+ guest reviews

Radisson Collection Royal Mile  – Perfect 5-star
Radisson Collection Royal Mile is a 5-star hotel, less than 250m away from the castle. The spacious rooms feature classic Scottish design and striking views of the city.

9.0/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,240+ guest reviews

Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town

Where to stay in Edinburgh – Old Town or New Town? How to decide which one is better? It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Both the New and the Old Town are part of the City Centre (see a map of these areas here). 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 a 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.

Old Town

Edinburgh Castle

This is the place, where the history of the city 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Hotels in the Old Town

The Inn on the Mile – a boutique 4-star hotel located on the historic Royal Mile in the heart of the city.
8.9/10 Rating – See hotel images and 290+ guest reviews

Radisson Blu Hotel – a central hotel on the Royal Mile with an excellent spa.
9.0/10 Rating – See hotel images and 3,850+ guest reviews

Apartments in the Old Town

Old Town Chambers – 5-star luxury serviced apartments offering a home-from-home experience.
9.3/10 Rating – See apartment images and 1,400+ guest reviews

The Knight Residence by Mansley Serviced Apartments – spacious and stylish apartments with a parking space.
9.4/10 Rating – See apartment images and 750+ guest reviews

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.

  • The main landmarks are in 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.
  • Don’t miss the cookies at Ben’s Cookies and the cocktails at Panda & Sons.

Boutique hotels in the New Town

The Principal Charlotte Square – a 5-star luxury hotel housed in seven inter-connecting Georgian townhouses in the heart of the New Town.
9.1/10 Rating – See hotel images and 2,070+ guest reviews

The Balmoral Hotel – an ideal base for the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe Festival.
9.2/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,080+ guest reviews

Mid-range hotels in the New Town

Tigerlily – a 4-star boutique hotel featuring an amazing bar and restaurant.
9.3/10 Rating – See hotel images and 710+ guest reviews

The Rutland Hotel – a 4-star hotel with a unique charm, the perfect place for a romantic getaway in Edinburgh or city shopping break.
9.2/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,010+ guest reviews

Apartments in the New Town

Destiny Scotland -The Malt House Apartments – modern and centrally located apartments.
9.0/10 Rating – See apartment images and 820+ guest reviews

Princes Street Suites – modern apartments with fully equipped kitchen and spacious living area.
9.1/10 Rating – See apartment images and 1,710+ guest reviews

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.

Motel One Princes – Best rated
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.

9.2/10 Rating – See hotel images and 4,980+ guest reviews

Motel One Royal – Closest to the 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.

9.0/10 Rating – See hotel images and 7,280+ guest reviews

The Inn Place – Central 3-star
The hotel is located on Cockburn Str, 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 hotel images and 1,940+ guest reviews

Old Town

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.

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.

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.

ibis Styles – Modern 3-star
Overlooking the ice rink at St Andrew Square, this 3-star hotel is a great cheap base to explore the Christmas Markets. The contemporary rooms feature traditional Scottish design.

8.8/10 Rating – See hotel images and 2,810+ guest reviews

Le Monde Hotel – Chic 4-star
Located on George Street, this 4-star boutique hotel is centrally located to all Christmas markets. The chic themed rooms are comfy and spacious.

8.9/10 Rating – See hotel images and 320+ guest reviews

The Principal – Classic 5-star
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.

8.9/10 Rating – See hotel images and 3,880+ guest reviews

Most popular activities

Visit the famous Edinburgh Castle. It’s advisable to book your ticket in advance.

Take a night tour of Edinburgh and reveal its gruesome history.

Take a day tour to Loch Ness and Highlands, the most picturesque region of Scotland.

How to get from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre

The Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is about 15km from the city centre. There are several options to get there:

  • Take the Airlink bus – it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (buses every 10 minutes during the day). The journey is about 30 minutes.
  • Take the tram – the tram runs between 06:00 AM and 11:00 PM (every 7 minutes). The journey is about 30 minutes.
  • Book a private transfer with a hotel pick-up for a stress-free ride to the airport.
Further reading for your trip

Find self-guided walking tours and historical insights in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Scotland.

Find out how to spend 3 perfect days in Edinburgh.

Want to sample some traditional Scottish food? Find out what are must-try try foods in What to eat in Edinburgh.

Take a day trip to the Highlands. Check out what are the most popular Highland tours from Edinburgh.

Visitors often combine Edinburgh with Glasgow. Check out these great affordable hotels in Glasgow City Centre.

If you’re planning to rent a car, compare the car rental prices in Europe.

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

best area to stay in Edinburgh  best places to stay in Edinburgh

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.

Subscribe to my newsletter and get details about my trips, where I stayed, how much the trip cost plus complete map of my itinerary.

Leave a Reply

Disclaimer: Some links in this article contain affiliate referrals. If you click on the link and purchase any service, I may receive a small commission (no extra cost to you).
My Vacation Itineraries is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.