Where to Stay in Edinburgh – The Best Areas and Hotels Guide

Finding where to stay in Edinburgh can become an overwhelming task for foreigners because of the enormous number of hotels available and the multitude of areas and neighborhoods inside and outside the city. Read this guide to understand the geography of the iconic Edinburgh and discover hotels options suitable for many budgets and for different travel experiences.


Every year, around 2 million tourists visit Scotland’s capital, for its brisk-walk beaches, its gigantic looming castle, and the best theater festival in the world.

But along with many tourists, Edinburgh also offers many accommodation options. If you’re new to Edinburgh, choosing when to visit Edinburgh or choosing a good accommodation for your trip can be overwhelming and intimidating.

If you’re visiting Edinburgh, but unsure about where you should stay, we’ve got you covered. Big city accommodation can always be confusing. But with this guide, you can say goodbye to your uncertainty.

We’ve covered several accommodation options of vastly-varying styles, along with different regions of the city. No matter your budget, your preferences, and who you’re traveling with, there’s a PERFECT accommodation choice for you here.

We’ve unpacked all the different districts, all the different budget options, and all the best things to do.

Let’s begin! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

If You’re In A Hurry, Here’s Our Advice In Short

Stay in the Royal Mile (also known as The Old Town) which is the very heart of Edinburgh. It’s the most popular area for visitors and home to most of the events and attractions which make Edinburgh iconic. 

It’s perfect for a first visit due to its proximity to the castle, the ancient side streets, and all the big tourist attractions. 

If you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time, The Old Town is the best place to immerse yourself in all the fun. Later in this article we’ve included advice on some of the best hotels and hostels in this area.


Top attractions in The Old Town:

  • The Castle
  • The Fringe Festival
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Ghost Tours
  • Camera Obscura
Where to stay in Edinburgh, Scotland

About Edinburgh

Before we dive in, here are a few Edinburgh facts to put your accommodation hunt into context:

  • Currency: Pound Sterling – £
  • Language: everyone speaks English, and everything is written in English, which makes Edinburgh a very easy city to visit and navigate
  • Population: 530,000 (source)
  • Number of guest rooms in the city (across all accommodation options): over 14,000 (source)
  • Estimated number of average tourists per day: around 5,500
  • Edinburgh is very safe to travel to as it’s considered one of the safest cities in the UK.

All that considered, you have lots of options – as do all of the other tourists who visit the city. Most travelers visit Edinburgh without doing much research, and therefore sometimes stay in unsafe, unreliable or unsatisfying accommodation.

But with us, you’re in safe hands.

Here’s a complete guide to Edinburgh’s different areas and neighborhoods along with the best hotels to stay in these neighborhoods of Edinburgh.

Let’s explore!

Best Areas and Neighborhoods to Stay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is divided into four main areas:

  • The Royal Mile (also known as the Old Town)
  • City Center (also known as the New Town)
  • Leith
  • Stockbridge

Because Edinburgh is a fairly walkable city, all of these areas provide easy access to all of the city’s main events, attractions and points of interest.

Edinburgh neighborhoods and districts map
Edinburgh Neighborhoods and District Map by Peter Fitzgerald, OpenStreetMap (CC BY-SA)

In some cities, some parts of town are way away from other parts of town. 

In Edinburgh, that’s not the case. No matter where you stay from the four options above, you’ll be able to enjoy the entire city very simply and very easily.

All four areas can be reached from one another by foot. Alternatively, you can use Edinburgh’s excellent, extensive and affordable bus network – or hire bicycles from the several easy-to-use rental points throughout the city.

Whether you want ancient streets, seaside strolls or the iconic port of Leith, you can easily access all of them from each point of the city.

The Royal Mile (also Known As the Old Town)

The best location to stay in Edinburgh is undeniably the Royal Mile, or Edinburgh Old Town. This area is the archetypal Edinburgh, which every tourist visits Edinburgh to see. If you want to stay in historic Edinburgh, with the castle, cobbled lanes and ancient architecture, this is the best place to do it. It also has an abundance of local food, candy stores and tartan-clad souvenir shops.

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Historic and busy, this is tourist central. Most of the big attractions are in this area. It also has museums, medieval relics and street performers. 

The Elephant Cafe, in this part of the city, is also very famous – JK Rowling penned some of the Harry Potter books in this quirky cafe.

The Royal Mile in some ways is somewhat of a parody of itself. Though it has all the ancient architecture, the rampant tourism has stripped away some of the authenticity of the area. If you’re the type of tourist who likes to stay in the ‘real’ part of a city, you might want to avoid overnighting in the Old Town.

Here are the top things to do on The Royal Mile:

  • The castle: the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Edinburgh, the castle sits proudly above the rest of the city. With dungeons, tours and the daily 1 o’clock cannon fire, it’s much more than just a pretty building. It’s actually built on an extinct volcano!
  • The Fringe Festival: every year, in the summer, the city is absolutely dominated by three weeks of theater, comedy and performance. This part of the city is always crammed full with actors, performers and personalities peddling their shows by handing out leaflets and doing mini-performances in the streets. This in itself is a great reason to visit the area, probably unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.
  • National Museum of Scotland: a four-story extravaganza of Scottish history, ancient history and more. There’s even a giant life-sized T-Rex!
  • Ghost tours: Edinburgh is reportedly a very haunted city. Many companies offer walking tours to explain and illustrate the city’s unique history of spooks and spectres.
  • Walking: a wander around this area of the city can be very fun. On every corner, there’s something interesting waiting to be discovered, whether it’s a cathedral, a narrow lane, a tea shop, or the royal family’s Holyrood Palace. There’s certainly a lot packed into a small area.

The Best Hotels in the Royal Mile Old Town

Luxury pick: The Witchery by The Castle

Set right in the heart of the action and outrageously luxurious, this hotel looks like it’s been ripped from the set of a gothic horror movie. Though more famous as a restaurant, it’s also a very popular hotel.

Mid-range pick: Ibis South Bridge

Centrally located and reasonably affordable, this hotel offers good basic luxury at a decent price. The hotel has a pleasant courtyard and a great restaurant and bar.

Budget pick: Royal Mile Backpackers

Its name perfectly sums up exactly what this place is all about! Central, colorful, cozy and welcoming, it’s a great place to meet other travelers. And unlike many other hostels, the decor is very charming, imaginative and fun.

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The Witchery by the Castle restaurant at night, the Royal Mile – by byronv2 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

City Center (also Known As the New Town)

Georgian architecture, classy bars and expensive stores make the new town a direct contrast to the old town. Though there aren’t many sights in this area, it’s a great place to stay if you prefer sipping drinks and chilling out, rather than days of never-ending sightseeing.

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If you like bars, restaurants and shopping, this is the best place to stay. Whatever you want to buy, whatever you want to eat, it’s all here.

Most of this area is fairly classy and expensive. If that’s not to your taste, you probably won’t enjoy staying in – or exploring – much of this area.

Here are the top things to do in the New Town:

  • Princes Street: stores, stores and more stores. Before much of the UK was taken over by massive malls, all shopping was conducted on the street. Princes Street has retained the charm of this tradition, with countless places to shop.
  • Edinburgh Dungeons: an excellent love-letter to the grisly and gruesome, the dungeons have a number of eerie exhibits centered around the spookier sides of Edinburgh’s history. The entire museum is interactive, as actors pop out of the darkness for a genuinely scary experience.
  • The Stand Comedy Club: the most famous comedy club in the entire city. Edinburgh has a huge heritage of fantastic comedy, and this is the best place to experience it. There are shows here every night, from young up-and-comers to some of the industry’s biggest and best names.

The Best Hotels in the New Town

Luxury pick: The Intercontinental

The oldest hotel in Edinburgh, this place has been serving guests since 1881. It perfectly mixes classy with contemporary, and manages to offer old-school elegance and charm alongside modern deco. Great food and drink, and a great place to stay.

Mid-range pick: Easy Hotel

On the more affordable side of mid-range is the Easy Hotel. It’s a basic accommodation but it’s very clean and very well-located.

Budget pick: Princes Street Backpackers

Very basic, this accommodation offers everything you’d normally expect from a hostel, with a few added extras, including a DVD lounge, free walking tours, highland tours and much more. If you want an affordable place to stay, this is one of the best picks across the whole of Edinburgh.

Leith

Multicultural and vibrant, Leith has historically always been the least affluent part of Edinburgh. But that’s no longer the case. Though some of the poorer areas of Leith can be slightly dangerous for solo travelers at night, Leith is now largely cosmopolitan and classy. 

Known for diverse food and its attractive docks, it’s a great place to base yourself if you want to save a little money – and if you want to stay outside of the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh’s city center. 

Leith also offers a more ‘real’ version of Edinburgh, away from lots of the tourist traps and gimmicky souvenir stores. Irvine Welsh, perhaps Edinburgh’s most famous writer, has written many novels about Edinburgh – and they’re largely all set here in Leith. His most well-known novel is Trainspotting, which was developed into a movie in 1996. 

Some of Leith is located on the beachfront, perfect if you want to incorporate beach strolls and crashing shores into your Edinburgh trip.

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For great no-frills restaurants, thrift stores and a little grit, this is the best choice.

Here are the top things to do in Leith:

  • Antique stores: with thrift stores and antique stores everywhere, Leith is a great place to be if you like shopping for chic clothes and unusual antiquities. 
  • Leith market: every Saturday, Leith market brings all types of trinkets and treasures to the Leith population. If you like markets, you’ll love this.
  • Leith port: boats, seafood and attractive architecture, the port by day can be peaceful and serene, a perfect place to relax away from the busy vibes of central Edinburgh.
  • Food: whether it’s Thai, Turkish, Scandinavian or anything else in between, you’ll find a restaurant that serves it here. Leith even has two Michelin-starred restaurants!

The Best Hotels in Leith

Luxury pick: Malmaison

Perfectly situated right on the banks of the dock, this hotel offers wonderful views of the waterfront. It also offers good rooms, good food and drink and friendly staff. 

Mid-range pick: Holiday Inn

A little less classy and a little more affordable than the Malmaison above, some rooms still offer dock views. It’s a very short walk to the dock and offers a comfortable stay at a decent price.

Budget pick: Hermitage Guesthouse

Welcoming and friendly, with a great breakfast, this is a fantastic and affordable way to experience Edinburgh. Right inside an authentic house in an authentic part of town, this guesthouse is archetypically Leith.

Stockbridge

Though it’s situated very close to the city center, Stockbridge is considered to be a ‘village’ within the city. Trendy, affluent and classy, Stockbridge typically appeals to tourists who like cash and class.

Situated close to Leith, but also close to the city center, this is an excellent choice for a central location. It’s also an excellent choice if you like a small-town charm, artisan stores and artistic atmospheres.

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If you want the feeling of being in a smaller place, while still experiencing all the thrills of a big city, Stockbridge is a great place to stay. It’s a little more expensive than some other parts of town, but it’s worth the money for the right person.

Here are the top things to do in Stockbridge:

  • Sunday Farmers Market: one of the best food markets in the entire country, this is full of farmers selling their homegrown wares.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens: free to visit, with over 17,000 plant species. This is one of Edinburgh’s top attractions, and it’s a great day out, especially on a warm day.
  • Caoba: unique and unusual, this store sells ceramics from Mexico and South America. Even a quick visit to the store is a fun adventure, with a vibrant and vivid selection of strange treasures from every corner of Latin America.

The Best Hotels in Stockbridge

Luxury pick: The Raeburn

Great food, great decor and oozing with class, this place even has its own library. In-room amenities include GHD hair straighteners, decadent bathrooms and espresso machines.

Mid-range pick: Nira Caledonia

Located in a beautiful Georgian townhouse, this hotel is classy and comfortable. The gardens onsite are an excellent place to relax.

Budget pick: Belford Hostel

Gothic, affordable and full of backpackers, this hostel offers very cheap rooms in the grounds of an old church. Stained glass windows, cheap drinks and live televised sport make for an eclectic – but thoroughly affordable – stay.

Edinburgh Hotels: Tips and FAQ

Areas to Avoid in Edinburgh

There are no hugely dangerous areas in Edinburgh or its outskirts. But if you want to stay super-safe, here are some areas you may want to avoid:

  • Holyrood Park at night.
  • The dock area in Leith at night. 
  • Calton Hill at night. 
  • The Meadows at night.
  • Lothian Road can be very busy with drunken revellers, particularly late at night at the weekend. So too can the Grassmarket.
  • The red light district between Salamander Street and Leith Links.

Though none of these places are particularly dangerous in any way, you may want to avoid them if you’re a particularly cautious person. Check out our in-depth guide dedicated to your safety in Edinburgh.

You should also be aware that you should stay in one of the four areas we’ve listed. All of these areas are very central, very well-linked and very interesting. If you stay further afield, you might not be able to enjoy Edinburgh as much as you’d like.

Where to Stay for the First Time in Edinburgh

For your first time, it’s best to stay in the Old Town of Edinburgh, to really soak up the atmosphere – and to really enjoy the picture-postcard traditional areas of the city. 

Though the old town is full of tourists, it’s the part of Edinburgh that everyone comes to see. So if you don’t spend much of your first time here, you’ll be missing out. 

The best three options in this area, we’ve already mentioned above. But in case you missed them…

Luxury pick: The Witchery by The Castle

Gothic, dramatic and historical, it’s like a mini-version of Edinburgh all in one building.

Mid-range pick: Ibis South Bridge

Great basic luxury at a very reasonable price.

Budget pick: Royal Mile Backpackers

Central, colorful, cozy and welcoming, this charming hostel is a great place to meet other travelers – and a great place to save money doing it!

Where to Stay in Edinburgh on a Budget

If you’re on a budget, hostels are always the way to go. As long as you don’t mind having less privacy, they can be a fantastic way to save money, especially since accommodation costs are usually the biggest expense on any trip. In Edinburgh in particular, accommodation costs can be very high.

Most hostels offer private rooms, so you don’t always have to sacrifice alone time in your pursuit of a bargain. 

Here are the best cheap hotels in Edinburgh:

1. Royal Mile Backpackers

Central, colorful, cozy and welcoming, this charming hostel is a great place to meet other travelers – and a great place to save money doing it!

2. Belford Hostel

Gothic, affordable and full of backpackers, this hostel offers very cheap rooms in the grounds of an old church. 

3. Princes Street Backpackers

If you want an affordable place to stay, this is the best pick – it claims to have the best prices across the entire city!

4. Castle Rock Hostel

Located in prime position right underneath the castle, this place has previously been voted the best hostel in the whole of Scotland. In a country with plenty of them, this is a big achievement.

5. Kick Ass Hostels

Central and sociable, this is actually the site of two hostels which share the same grounds. With over 300 beds to choose from, this is a great place to stay if you want to make friends – or if you like to party. 

Where to Stay As a Solo Traveler

If you’re traveling solo, you’ll likely want to make friends in your accommodation. If that’s the case, stay in the Old Town, which is right in the heart of the action. It has the most hotels, and the most solo travelers. If you stay in the Old Town, making friends is easy.

For the same reason, the best place to stay as a solo traveler is in a hostel. If you’re keen to make friends and buddy up with other travelers, you should look for the most sociable hostels.

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In any hostel it’s very easy to meet other solo travelers. But in these ones, it’s at its absolute simplest:

1. Castle Rock Hostel

This place has previously been voted the best hostel in the whole of Scotland. With cozy corners, multiple chillout rooms, a super central location and a piano(!), it’s a great place to socialize.

2. Kick Ass Hostels

With over 300 beds to choose from, cheap food and drink and a big party atmosphere, this place is perfect for meeting other social butterflies.

3. St Christopher’s

The on-site bar and restaurant here is very popular with guests, making it an ideal place to find another solo traveler to chat with. The entire hostel has a very lively, friendly atmosphere.

Where to Stay for Couples

All Edinburgh areas are good for couples. It depends on what type of people you are. Like authentic vibes? Try Leith. Like richer areas? Try the New Town. Want to be right in the center of it all so you can spend more time smooching in your hotel and less time traveling? Stay in the Old Town.

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Hanne-Mary & Andrew’s wedding at Edinburgh City Chambers © Karol Makula

In every area, Edinburgh has an exciting abundance of raunchy, romantic hotels, all perfect for a couple’s getaway. Here are some of the best:

1. The Witchery by The Castle

Gothic, atmospheric and mysterious, the rooms here are blood-red, lusty and decadent, full of antiques and oddities. If you want to feel like you’re vacationing in a romance novel, this is the place for you.

2. The Glasshouse

Glassy and classy, this hotel is sleek, shiny and opulent. With floor-to-ceiling windows abound, and lots of other glass features and fittings, this is a perfect backdrop for a suave getaway.

3. Prestonfield House

Decadent and expensive, this 23-room country hotel is set in the secluded privacy of a country estate. Here, you are waited on by kilted doormen in the most indulgent of baroque settings. This is vacation indulgence at its finest.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh with Family and Kids

Edinburgh is a great place to stay with kids, and has many attractions for little ones of all ages. But it’s important to stay in a place that caters to your little critters too!

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Edinburgh festival on the Royal Mile – by Jesús Gorriti (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Here are some of the best hotels to stay at in Edinburgh with your family and your kids:

1. Old Town Chambers

These apartments are central and modern, and they sleep up to 6. Taking your kids to an apartment is often better than staying in a hotel, because you can have lots of fun without worrying about disrupting anyone’s peace and quiet.

2. Radisson Blu

Rooms here come with coloring books, candies and games – along with on-request PS4s! There’s also a swimming pool in the basement. This hotel is located within walking distance from all of Edinburgh’s best child-friendly attractions.

3. The Balmoral

If you’re traveling with a baby, this hotel offers complimentary meals, cots and play mats. Older kids get options including magazines, movies, games, books, cookies and milk, to make them feel special.

Where to Stay for a Luxury Vacation

If you want a luxury stay in Edinburgh, the New Town is the best area for that. It has lots of great stores, hotels, and overall vibes. You’ll be able to enjoy countless hours of finery and flashy fun. That said, there are luxury hotels throughout the entire city. Here are three of the best:

1. Fingal

What’s more decadent than a hotel boat? If you’re looking for an indulgent overnighter, this is one of the best. The boat has a ballroom, with sleek decor that looks like it’s been polished every day since the 1930s. If you want to feel like you’re vacationing on The Titanic, stay here.

2. Prestonfield House

Decadent and expensive, this 23-room country hotel is set in the secluded privacy of a country estate. This is vacation indulgence at its finest – here, you’ll feel like a British lord of the manor.

3. The Balmoral

Simultaneously minimalist and opulent, this Neo-Renaissance building used to be a favorite hotel for royalty and celebrities. The hotel’s restaurant even has a Michelin Star!

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The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh – by byronv2 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Where to Stay for Local Vibes

If you want a taste of the authentic Edinburgh, away from the relative artifice of the popular tourist spots, you should stay in Leith. Historically somewhat of a no-go zone, full of crime and gangs, Leith has shaken off its criminal past to become the beautiful rough diamond in Edinburgh’s landscape.

Leith still has a slight rough-around-the-edges atmosphere, which is both authentic and exciting. By staying here, you’ll experience the real warmth and kindness of Edinburgh natives, rather than the leaflet-toting tourist magnets in the city center.

The local vibes in Leith are very varied. Some parts have the best traditional pubs, harking back to Scotland’s drinking culture. Other areas have the best African food in the city, paying homage to Edinburgh’s relatively recent immigration boom. 

Leith is a true reflection of what Edinburgh once was, what it now is, and what it’s becoming. In short, it’s exciting and it’s authentic.

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The Leith area in Edinburgh – by Jorge Franganillo (CC BY 2.0)

For vinyl stores, small music venues and smiling faces, stay in Leith. As we recommended above, here are the three best places to stay:

Luxury pick: Malmaison

Situated right on the banks of the dock, the hotel offers wonderful views of the waterfront.

Mid-range pick: Holiday Inn

A little less classy and a little more affordable than the Malmaison above.

Budget pick: Hermitage Guesthouse

Right inside an authentic house in an authentic part of town, this guesthouse is archetypically Leith.

Where to Stay for Beaches

The most famous beach in Edinburgh is Portobello Beach, which lies east of the city. There’s a beautiful sandy beach and a wide promenade. In summer, on hot days, this place is a hive of activity, with lots of traditional British seaside fun, including sailing, kite-flying and funfair attractions.

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Sandcastle competition at the Big Beach Busk – by kaysgeog (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This is the best beach if you have kids.

If you want to stay near Portobello Beach, here are your best options:

Luxury Pick: Abercorn Guesthouse

A traditional 19th Century Victorian family home, this is British bed and breakfast at its most traditional. Staying in a family home is a great way to experience a British vacation. The food is great, the welcome is warm, and the historic property is a two-minute walk from the beach!

Budget pick: Beachview Apartment

Though simple and basic, this place has all the comfort you need if you don’t mind skipping a little indulgence. The rooms are spacious, the prices are low and the location is absolutely perfect.

A second choice for a beach getaway is Cramond, which is slightly further from the city center. It’s a little out of town, but some people do like to stay here. Small and charming Cramond is a former fishing community, full of small stores and friendly faces.

Cramond feels a world away from the busy atmosphere of central Edinburgh, making it a great base if you want a quiet place to stay within quick touching distance of the capital. From Cramond, you can easily reach Edinburgh by bus.

Here’s our top pick in Cramond: Silver Lining – Cottage By The Sea

Beautiful location, simple, quaint and welcoming, this is a great place to relax. It’s very homely and very charming, a perfect slice of British seaside life.

Where to Stay for Hiking

There are many small hikes in and around Edinburgh, including the ultra-famous city lookout of Arthur’s Seat. Most Edinburgh visitors are content with small inner-city hikes such as this one and Calton Hill.

But if you want more intense hiking in real remote hills, then the best pick is Pentland Hills, which are very accessible from Edinburgh. With nine reservoirs and an abundance of beautiful hills, there are many trails to explore.

On some of the longer trails, you’ll find it hard to remember that you’re so close to Edinburgh! Remote and rugged, they’re a great way to experience Scotland’s wilderness without having to venture too far.

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Here are the best places to stay near the Pentland Hills – all three are very well-located for hiking adventures, both long and short:

Luxury pick: Peggyslea Farm

An excellent way to experience traditional Scottish farm life, this working horse farm is beautifully rural. They even offer horse rides! The rooms aren’t indulgent, but they’re decorated to a great standard.

Mid-range pick: Allan Ramsay Hotel

Country pubs are an excellent part of British life – and staying in one is an excellent way to experience them! Great food, great atmosphere and very comfortable rooms.

Budget pick: Aaron Glen Guesthouse

For the price, this provides excellent value. Fantastic traditional breakfasts, warm welcomes and a wonderful location. This is a truly excellent example of a traditional British bed and breakfast.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh: the Final Thoughts

One of the most visited cities in the world, Edinburgh is incredible. With historic architecture at every corner of its core, most people visit Scotland’s capital for its castle and its heritage. But as we’ve outlined, it’s so much more than that, with beaches, hiking, authentic Leith and a whole host of interesting attractions.

Because Edinburgh is a relatively small city, it’s easy to stay anywhere and still experience all that it has to offer. Unlike many other popular cities, it’s not so big that you can’t tackle its entirety.

That said, our pick of all of Edinburgh’s hotels is this one:

Ibis South Bridge: this is the best choice for a good all-round compromise. It’s not too expensive, it’s not too basic and it offers an absolutely fantastic location, right in the heart of iconic Edinburgh. It’s not a special hotel, but it’s set up perfectly for the vast majority of tourists. Check out Ibis South Bridge on booking.com or on hotels.com.

For budget travel, this is our number one pick:

Castle Rock Hostel: located in prime position right underneath the castle and previously voted the best hostel in the whole of Scotland. It’s affordable, it’s sociable, and the location is absolutely phenomenal. Most hostels are often rough around the edges. This absolutely isn’t. Check out Castle Rock Hostel on booking.com or hotels.com or hostelworld.com.

A quick note: please remember, if you do travel, always take out travel insurance. It’ll keep you covered, it could save you money, and it’ll mean that you don’t have to spend your trip worrying about staying safe! And all for a very small fee.

We recommend the excellent World Nomads. In a sea of untrustworthy providers, they’re perfectly reliable.

Have you visited Edinburgh? Do you have a favorite place to stay that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!

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