Best Edinburgh Hotels
Stepped in history and fringed with rolling hills, Highland lochs, and rugged coastline, Scotland’s capital provides the buzz of a modern city against the backdrop of famous historic architecture. Ever simmering with art and culture, Edinburgh reaches boiling point come August when artists of every variety congregate for its international festival season – the largest of its kind in the world. A hearty cornucopia of things to see, do, buy, and eat, Edinburgh has something to suit every purse and preference.
Things to see
Perched on the plug of an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is undoubtedly the jewel in the city’s skyline. A definitive part of the city’s history, a visit to the royal abode is on most visitors’ to-do lists. If history doesn’t reel you in but shopping does, then Princes Street is a mile long paradise of brand names and designer labels. Carving the main thoroughfare through Edinburgh’s cobbled old town, The Royal Mile also offers an array of shopping, while exercising the senses with its eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, and attractions. For monkeys, penguins and all manner of creatures you wouldn’t expect to find in Scotland, the 82 acre Edinburgh Zoo is a must visit, and the only place in the UK you can see a giant panda. For the mildly courageous, a walk up to the top of Arthur’s Seat will gift you views of the city the legendary King himself was said to have surveyed.
Hotels in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Hotels range from uber chic luxury boutiques with Michelin star dining and decadent spa facilities, to more modest chain hotels suitable for families. Self-catering apartments are plentiful, offering well-equipped kitchens, and concierge services. A cutting edge city, there are green hotels in Edinburgh for those who embrace sustainability, while those who prefer to holiday with Fido in tow will find the city in particularly good supply of pet-friendly accommodation too. For holiday makers who can’t resist the lure of a city break but enjoy tranquility by default, the Lothian countryside offers out-of-town boltholes, away from the buzz.
Where to stay
With its cobbled streets and medieval architecture, Edinburgh’s Old Town oozes romantic charm. During the Edinburgh Festival the high street and Hunter Square come to life 24/7 with street performers, laughter, and camera-clicking tourists. Neighbouring New Town, despite being referred to as new, retains much of its original neo-classical and Georgian splendour. Home to shopping hub Princes Street and The National Gallery of Scotland, it’s a good place to base yourself if you plan on enjoying a little bit of everything. Located just minutes from the city center, Haymarket is also an ideal base for those who like to explore, with Edinburgh’s fashionable West End and popular zoo located nearby.
How to get to
If you’re really looking for a quick city getaway then chances are you’ll touch down at Edinburgh Airport. Located just 8 miles from the city center, both taxis and frequent bus services should get you to your destination in no time. If your budget doesn’t permit air travel however, then the East Coast line railway is the next best thing. The fastest intercity railway in the UK, a journey from London to Edinburgh should take no longer than 5 hours. For those looking for a cheaper escape, then consider traveling via coach. While slower than a train, you’ll certainly save a bundle.
When are the best times to travel to Edinburgh?In Edinburgh’s crisp and cool autumn months, from October through November, you’ll find plenty of Edinburgh hotel deals. During December and January, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, bustling with festive markets and family-fun ice rinks. In the summer time – particularly in the month of August – Edinburgh explodes with cultural festivals, from literature fairs to jazz concerts. Culture vultures can’t miss the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – an array of alternative stand-up shows and theatre performances.
What are the top must-see attractions in EdinburghStop by Edinburgh Castle, a 16th-century fortress perched atop a rocky hill, dominating the city skyline. Marvel at the towering turrets, sheer statue-inlaid walls and arching old world gates. In the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town, discover the St. Giles Cathedral, a vast structure of spiked towers and flying buttresses, capped with a dizzying crown-shaped steeple. The roots of this gothic building date to the 12th century. Nautical fanatics, meanwhile, can’t miss the HMY Britannia – the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II, which is docked in Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal.
What are the best types of food and restaurants in Edinburgh?Edinburgh’s cuisine scene ranges from Michelin-star dining to easy Indian curry houses. For traditional pub cooking, eat in Old Town, and enjoy a filling meal of haggis or Scotch Pie. Edinburgh’s love for spicy curry means that many authentic Indian restaurants are dotted throughout the city – particularly along central South Bridge Street, near the university campus. The city’s fine dining restaurants are also scattered across the city, many of which are housed in luxury Edinburgh hotels, and serve a range of delicate French cuisine and fresh seafood dishes.
What are the top things to do in Edinburgh?Experience Edinburgh’s grand history at the Holyrood Palace, a 16th-century royal palace complex which is the official Scottish residence of the British Monarch. Tour the palace interior’s old world rooms, like the former King’s 17th-century apartments, decked-out with royal memorabilia. Shoppers can spend an afternoon splurging along Prices Street, a bustling thoroughfare lined with ritzy stores and old-fashioned boutiques. For some fresh air, take a rejuvenating hike to the summit of Arthur’s Seat, a grassy mountain peak in greater Holyrood Park offering sweeping city views.
What are some fun facts about Edinburgh?Edinburgh is known by a variety of nicknames, including “Edina” and “The Athens of The North”, but none are quite so funny as “Auld Reekie”. This quirky nickname came about from the dense cloud of smoke that once hung above the city from all the wood and coal fires burning in citizen’s houses. At Edinburgh Castle, take a moment to appreciate that the fortress sits atop the plug of an extinct volcano. Calling Edinburgh’s August festival month popular is an understatement – during this time, the city’s population doubles.
What kinds of public transport are there in Edinburgh?Edinburgh operates an extensive and affordable public transport network of buses, trams and suburban rail routes linking the central city to its suburbs. The public buses wind all throughout the city and into the surrounding areas – you can buy day passes to save on fares. The regular trams link central Edinburgh to the airport, stopping at key locations enroute. The city is flush with taxicabs for quick and easy travel in Edinburgh, though the central areas are best explored on foot.