The medieval city of Edinburgh is one of the most atmospheric and interesting in the UK. Here, Sally Coffey looks at the very best hotels the city has to offer
Edinburgh is a beautiful historic city, almost as famous for the Georgian splendour of its New Town as it is for the prepossessing landmark of Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the skyline and marks the start of the Royal Mile in the medieval part of the city.
If you are planning to visit Scotland’s capital then follow our guide to the best hotels, apartments, guesthouses and B&Bs to ensure a memorable trip.
This grande dame of a hotel has stood proud over the city from its position in the West End for over 100 years and for many it will always simply be known as ‘The Caley’.
Following a major restoration in 2012, much of the heritage of its former guise as a railway hotel has been returned – in the Carriage Queen Rooms there are nods to the Victorian train carriages that first brought guests here, including polished burr veneers and shiny metalwork. However, while service in this five-star hotel is exemplary and the guest areas, including Peacock Alley and The Pompadour by Galvin restaurant are worth a visit on their own, it is the spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle that will really blow you away.
Right next to the Caledonian, on a discreet side street, is this quirky yet luxuriously appointed hotel, which offers stylish bedrooms as well as vibrant and kitsch apartments.
Once home to the esteemed physician Joseph Lister, who pioneered new principles in hygiene in the 1800s, the exterior has maintained its 19th-century look, while inside it has had a thoroughly modern makeover.
The 12 boutique bedrooms with their sumptuous fabrics are the epitome of glamour but the small things haven’t been forgotten either – homemade shortbread awaits you on arrival.
The apartments, which have been meticulously thought-out, include huge bathrooms with rainfall showers, colourful living rooms and well stocked kitchens. Breakfast is served in the stylish Huxley restaurant.
Set across the top floors of one of the city’s oldest buildings – a six-storey tenement building that dates from the time of Mary, Queen of Scots – these compact apartments offer one of the most authentically historic stays in the city.
Despite being located on the Royal Mile, inside the elegant apartments feel far removed from the touristy Lawnmarket outside – very much your own retreat in the heart of medieval Edinburgh, and surprisingly good value too.
Go easy on the luggage here as it can be a struggle bringing suitcases up the turnpike staircase.
A little way out of town but well located for visitors to Murrayfield – home of Scottish rugby – is this very grown-up guest house in a smart Victorian villa recently named Boutique Hotel of the Year in the 2018 Scottish Hotel Awards.
There are actually two properties here – Hampton House across the road, which provides hotel-style rooms, and Dunstane, the height of sophistication, where suites are bedecked in tweed with original artworks on the wall and surprise elements such as roll-top copper baths, four-posters – even telescopes for taking in the views.
In the evening, treat youself to a cocktail in the very chic Ba’ Bar, where you can recline on Chesterfield sofas – you may even be tempted by the brasserie-style menu.
Every now and then you find a B&B where everything just works and nothing is too much trouble, and this is one of those places.
Owner Louise will make you feel at ease from the moment you arrive, marking on a map the places you should visit and sharing travel stories.
The two rooms are homely – there’s a decanter of whisky to greet you – with tartan bedspreads and curtains, and the gorgeous bathrooms are stocked with Noble Isle toiletries.
The delicious Full Scottish breakfast is served in a small communal dining room downstairs and in summer you can sit in the private garden. Its loyal customers have led to it being named B&B of the year twice in the Food & Travel awards and we even spotted some familiar names among past guests – but we couldn’t possibly reveal who.
If you are looking for clean, comfy budget accommodation in a good location then this is just the place.
Located just opposite Haymarket train station, which has regular trains into the city centre (5 mins) or it’s just a 20-minute walk away, it’s also very close to lots of restaurants and bars if you want to avoid the tourist throng for a while.
The Hub is also Scotland’s first ‘smartphone hotel’ and all guests can make full use of the free smartphones that come equipped with data for finding your way around the city, plus you can make free international calls.
See our full Edinburgh city guide in the July/August issue of BRITAIN.