Whether you’re keen to experience warm Scottish hospitality, storybook castles or haggis (perhaps a bit of all three?), Edinburgh is a requisite stop on any Scotland itinerary. Located an hour’s train ride from Glasgow, this compact treasure of a city brims with culture, architecture and cuisine. It’s home to a fairytale hilltop castle that holds the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, as well as the atmospheric Old Town with cobbled lanes, stores selling tartan kilts and lively pubs. The accommodations enchant travelers in equal measure, with a mix of historic grand dames and captivating newcomers.
Planning a trip to Edinburgh? Scroll on for the best hotels in the Scottish capital.
A stately grand dame dating back to 1902, The Balmoral, part of the Rocco Forte Hotels group, is an iconic landmark and one of the finest examples of Scottish luxury in the country. More than just a place to stay, it’s an experience that encompasses rare whisky, spa treatments and afternoon tea in the Palm Court. In keeping with the grandeur of the rest of the property, generously sized rooms and suites feature tartan plaid upholstery, whimsical wallpaper and bespoke furnishings.
Gleneagles Townhouse — the urban branch of the beloved Scottish country resort — opened this past summer, and has quickly emerged as one of the chicest and most interesting hotels in the capital. Cosmopolitan but with heritage and charm in spades, the boutique hotel and members club on St. Andrew Square is a glamorous place to sample crave-worthy seasonal cuisine, toss back tipples on the skyline-view rooftop and snooze in luxurious, pastel-hued comfort.
Another buzzy newcomer, Virgin Hotels Edinburgh — the brand’s first European outpost — opened in 2022 to much fanfare. Located in the heart of Old Town, it perfectly encapsulates the past and present: Original stone walls, vaulted ceilings and an imposing staircase imbue a sense of heritage that’s juxtaposed by the avant-garde 3D-printed gothic chandelier and a futuristic portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots. Rooms are fitted with custom king-size beds and ergonomic tufted headboards that guarantee a good night’s sleep.
Situated in a former rail station on Princes Street (a fitting address for such a regal respite), the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian looks like the exact sort of place a modern-day royal would happily call home for a few days. A longtime luxury fixture in the city, the five-star property offers fine dining, refined rooms and suites, and priceless views of Edinburgh Castle. The spa is a true sanctuary with 111SKIN facials, a sauna and an indoor swimming pool.
A landmark with stories to tell, the InterContinental Edinburgh The George, an IHG Hotel, channels the splendor and majesty of a bygone era without being stuck in the past. It’s classy in an old-school way, and built on a scale so massive it would be hard to match in the present, but there’s also something quite contemporary about the smart bedrooms and coffee shop that caffeinates out-of-towners with oat-milk lattes. Don’t worry about missing out on the more customary Scottish touches — the concierge still dons a kilt.
Set inside a collection of seven beautiful Georgian buildings on one of the loveliest blocks in all of New Town, the Kimpton Charlotte Square is upscale, without trying too hard, and still manages to pull off a sense of whimsy amidst the poshness of it all. More traditional elements like tartan pillows mingle with hip flourishes to create spaces that feel alive. Whether you prefer a cup of tea or something a bit stronger (single-malt whisky, perhaps?), head to the inner courtyard to sip a beverage and soak in the energy.
Maximalism is the name of the game at The Witchery, a hidden gem tucked inside a cluster of buildings that date back to 1595 by the entrance gates of the city’s most famous attraction, the Edinburgh Castle. Gourmands and folks who have tried to score brownie points with a romantic partner know of the fine-dining restaurant. The hotel itself feels more like a well-guarded secret. A seductive palette of crimson and gold washes over the sumptuously appointed suites that are decked out with lavish fabrics, antiques and four-poster beds.
Irreverent and unabashedly cool, House of Gods reaches a level of rock-and-roll indulgence others can only dream of replicating. Rather than committing to a singular style, the self-proclaimed sexiest hotel in Edinburgh takes pride in its “forget the rules” approach to design, weaving a tapestry of wildly disparate inspirations into something totally seductive. Spend the night swigging bubbly and dancing under the disco ball at the bar or sneak away to your room for instant after-party vibes.
The Roseate Edinburgh, formerly known as the Dunstane Houses, is now a personality-filled member of Leading Hotels of the World with Victorian character, contemporary comforts and warm hospitality. A polished retreat in Edinburgh’s West End, it doesn’t demand guests to be buttoned up all the time. On the contrary, interiors are designed for unwinding — whether that’s sampling spirits from world-class Highland distilleries at the bar, feasting on Scottish fare at the restaurant or lounging in the luxurious rooms.
While Acadian allure and seclusion are attributes more closely associated with a country estate than a city stay, Prestonfield House doesn’t fit the pre-prescribed box for either. Nestled on 20 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland, the property brings something private and peaceful to Edinburgh — in a location that’s a mere five minutes from Old Town. That means after sightseeing, guests get to return to the cozy embrace of fireside cocktails and rooms swathed in rich jewel tones, brocade and precious antiques.
While Edinburgh isn’t lacking in historic accommodations, sometimes it’s nice to switch things up. If you’re looking for a more contemporary stay with plenty of Scottish character, The Glasshouse certainly fits the bill. Featuring an expansive rooftop garden and a fireplace-adorned bar called the Snug, the stylish hotel definitely appeals to modern travelers. Sleek rooms flaunt city views, cloud-like beds and bathrooms with underfloor heating to keep toes toasty on cold days.
Housed in the former headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and within walking distance of the Edinburgh Waverley train station and many major tourist sites, Cheval The Edinburgh Grand is the perfect New Town homebase for quick trips or extended stays. Residential-style accommodations — ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments — feature colorful decor, comfortable furnishings and full kitchens. Would you rather have someone else do the cooking? There’s a fourth-floor lounge for nibbles, afternoon tea and cocktails as well as an all-day cafe and an upscale restaurant.
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