Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and a vibrant city with plenty of culture and heritage. Knowing where to stay in Edinburgh will help you get the most out of your visit.
Accommodation can book up quickly, especially when The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is on in August. It is worth planning ahead and considering what you want to do, to help avoid disappointment.
Where to stay in Edinburgh for The Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Fringe takes place for 3 weeks in August every year in Edinburgh. The festival invites thousands of performers to celebrate arts and culture. It takes place in many venues across the city centre. In fact, in 2017 there were around 300 venues with over 3,000 shows! There is something for everyone, from comedy, plays and musicals to dance, circus and music.
The atmosphere is incredible with crowds of people enjoying street performances, outdoor shows and more. The High Street on Royal Mile and the Mound are two areas that are particularly vibrant. I enjoyed a couple of hours here watching a talented A cappella group and juggler.
You can attend plenty of free shows, but these are often on a ‘first come’ basis. For the shows that you need to buy tickets, I would advise to book a few in advance of your trip. This is especially so if there is a popular comedian or musician you particularly want to see, as these will sell out fast.
As the Fringe takes over the whole of Edinburgh city centre, there isn’t one best place to stay. There will also inevitably be some walking involved. The EasyHotel Edinburgh and Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Princes Street are both budget hotels and fairly central. They are a 13-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley train station. Walk west towards Waverley Bridge and turn right onto the bridge. Then turn left onto Princes Street and walk down for a couple of blocks. The hotels will be on your right.
Princes Street is also home to the main shopping district. Staying in these hotels mean you won’t have to walk too far with those heavy shopping bags after some retail therapy!
Where to stay in Edinburgh for the Castle and Royal Mile
A visit to Edinburgh would not be complete without seeing Edinburgh Castle and walking down The Royal Mile. You can also discover the rich history of Edinburgh by visiting the museums and exhibitions that are situated within the castle, such as the National War Museum and The Great Hall.
Once you have seen the castle, take a walk down Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. The Royal Mile runs down the centre of the old town into Grassmarket. Plenty of shops, cafes and pubs line the street. This is also the place to buy your keepsakes and traditional Scottish souvenirs!
There is a small café called Deacon’s House Café that is about an 8-minute walk down the Royal Mile from the Castle. It is tucked away on the right side of the street so can be easily missed. Serving typical lunchtime snacks such as sandwiches, soups and scones, it is the perfect place to stop for a cup of coffee and a slice of homemade cake.
If visiting Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile is high on your list of things to do, staying near Johnston Terrace, Victoria Street or Grassmarket are the best options. The G&V Royal Mile Hotel is a luxury 5-star hotel for that extra special treat. This hotel is on 1 George IV Bridge.
Where to stay in Edinburgh for Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat
Holyrood Park is a Royal Park adjacent to Holyrood Palace, and close to the Scottish Parliament Building, at the end of the Royal Mile. The highest peak is Arthur’s Seat, which boasts spectacular views of the city.
Reaching Arthur’s Seat is a popular activity for walkers and runners. With a clear path leading around the park, put your comfortable footwear on and hike your way to the top. The path is slippery in places, so take extra care. On a hot day make sure you carry water. When you reach the top, the views are incredible and well worth the climb.
Choose a hotel or apartment around Holyrood Park, such as the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, for convenient access to the park.
Where to stay in Edinburgh for Edinburgh Zoo
Another popular attraction in Edinburgh is Edinburgh Zoo. There are frequent public buses to Edinburgh Zoo from Princes Street, as well as the two main train stations: Edinburgh Waverly and Edinburgh Haymarket. Look out for buses 12, 26 and 31 that all stop right outside the zoo and take about 20 minutes from the city centre.
If you wish to stay closer to Edinburgh Zoo, the Holiday Inn Edinburgh is right on the doorstep, and only a 2-minute walk.
Where to stay in Edinburgh – a good all-rounder
Of course, if you plan on experiencing many things in Edinburgh, there will be some element of walking and travelling. However, most areas are within easy reach and public buses are frequent and reasonably priced.
A more affordable way to see all of Edinburgh is by using Airbnb (get $25 free credit with this link!). You can find an apartment or house on Airbnb, which will usually be less expensive than a hotel, so you will have more spending money.
I found a charming apartment in Dean Village, to the west of the city centre. This is about a 10-minute walk to Princes Street. The apartment is set within a 19th century courtyard, providing a tranquil base away from the busy city centre. Plus, at around £50 a night, even in the peak season it was affordable.
If you find yourself this side of town, and you enjoy Chinese cuisine, you must make time to visit Rendezvous Chinese Restaurant. The restaurant is on Queensferry Street. The food is delicious (my favourite is the sweet and sour chicken, which was divine!), and also great value for money.
Where to stay in Edinburgh will depend on the experience you want to have. There are numerous hotels, apartments and B&Bs catering for all types of guests – whether you are travelling solo, as a couple or in a group. Just don’t leave it too close to the dates you are visiting to arrange your accommodation, the earlier the better! We recommend booking online. For the best rates, we always recommend Agoda.