Although Edinburgh is one of the smaller capitals in Europe, it can be challenging to figure out where to stay in Edinburgh.
In this guide, I’ll tell you about the best areas and places to stay in Edinburgh.
I’ve lived in Edinburgh, been a tour guide on group trips to the city, and even run my own travel agency specialising in Scotland.
I know Edinburgh well and know exactly where it’s wise to stay as a tourist who wants to experience the best of the Scottish capital.
Where to stay in Edinburgh? Let’s get started with the guide.
- Best areas to stay in Edinburgh
- 1. Old Town – best place to stay for tourists ⭐️
- Places to stay in Old Town
- 2. New Town – best area for shopping & cheaper accommodation
- Places to stay in New Town
- 3. Stockbridge – Edinburgh’s best area with local charm
- Places to stay in Stockbridge
- 4. Leith – the rough area that became trendy 🍹
- Places to stay in Leith
- 5. Haymarket – an area with cheap hotels near the city centre 💸
- Places to Stay in Haymarket
- Still unsure where to stay in Edinburgh?
- What is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for regular tourists?
- Is it better to stay in Old Town or New Town Edinburgh?
- How many days should you spend in Edinburgh?
- How to get around in Edinburgh?
- Are there any dangerous areas in Edinburgh you should avoid?
Best areas to stay in Edinburgh
This guide to the best areas in Edinburgh is relatively long and includes insider tips, so I’d recommend reading the entire article, but here they are for those who want the quick facts.
Here are the best areas in Edinburgh:
- Old Town – best place to stay for tourists ⭐️
- New Town – best area for shopping & slightly cheaper hotels 🛍️
- Stockbridge – best area for local atmosphere 😍
- Leith – the rough area that became trendy 🍹
- Haymarket – an area with cheap hotels near the city centre 💸
Click on the area’s name above to book the best hotels. The guide on where to stay in Edinburgh continues below.
1. Old Town – best place to stay for tourists ⭐️
It’s easy to point to Old Town when choosing the best place to stay in Edinburgh.
As the name suggests, this is Edinburgh’s old historical centre and home to many of the city’s best things to do and see.
Old Town is known for its cobbled streets, narrow alleys, and historic buildings that transport you back in time.
Here, you’ll find attractions such as:
- Edinburgh Castle
- St. Giles’ Cathedral
- The National Museum,
- Victoria Street (which inspired JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter universe)
- The Royal Mile that stretches from Edinburgh Castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse by the Scottish Parliament.
Edinburgh is a relatively small city, so you can walk to most places if you stay in Old Town (or New Town, which is the next area on the list). There are plenty of great restaurants and pubs in Old Town.
And although the Royal Mile (in particular) is filled with tourists, there are no blatant tourist traps in Old Town, which can sometimes be found in the most touristy areas of European cities.
Instead, there are many historic pubs where locals also stop by for a pint after work.
When I lived in Edinburgh, we often ended up in Old Town, whether I had friends visiting from Denmark or was meeting up with my Scottish friends.
In other words: Old Town is the heart of Edinburgh and the best area to stay in for most tourists and first-time travellers to the Scottish capital.
It’s also undoubtedly the best area if you’re travelling to Edinburgh with children, as at times it can feel like you’re walking around an old amusement park or on a film set – it’s that beautiful! 🙌🏻
- Central location and within walking distance to many attractions
- Historical and architectural gems
- Lively atmosphere and authentic Scottish culture
- Plenty of restaurants, pubs, and things to do
- Accommodation options for every budget
- Easy access to public transport (Edinburgh Waverley Station, the city’s central train station, is located between Old Town and New Town) and Edinburgh Airport
Places to stay in Old Town
Since Old Town is the area that all tourists want to experience, there are naturally plenty of hotels.
However, it should be noted that the area is also packed with old buildings, so it’s not like there are brand-new hotels on every street corner (which is nice – you’d rather experience a genuine city than a city filled with hotels).
Below are some of the hotels in Edinburgh’s Old Town that I stay in when I return to Edinburgh.
Virgin Hotels Edinburgh is the best place to stay if you’re looking for luxurious surroundings in Old Town.
Ideally located in the heart of Edinburgh on Victoria Street, one of the city’s most beautiful streets, you’re close to all the top attractions.
The rooms are stylish and comfortable, and the service is truly top-notch.
Virgin Hotels Edinburgh is the obvious choice if you want to stay in luxury in Old Town.
Apex Grassmarket Hotel is a good option if you want something slightly cheaper.
I’ve stayed here several times and often used it for my travellers when I tailored trips to Scotland in my travel agency.
It’s located ideally in Old Town, right on Grassmarket, one of the city’s old market squares, now filled with pubs and restaurants.
Both places are literally just across the entrance to the hotel, so it’s hard to go wrong 😀
The rooms at the hotel are tastefully decorated and comfortable, and the service is attentive and friendly.
Besides the great location, the best thing about Apex Grassmarket Hotel is the indoor swimming pool, where you can relax and enjoy a dip after a long day of sightseeing.
An excellent and family-friendly choice for a hotel in Old Town.
If you’re looking for a budget hotel in Old Town, I recommend Ibis Edinburgh Centre South.
There are several Ibis hotels in Edinburgh, and I’ve stayed at them all, so I know there isn’t a big difference in the standard – there generally isn’t with Ibis hotels (that’s the whole point).
However, there is a price difference, and Ibis Edinburgh Centre South is typically the cheapest.
The location is excellent; just a few minutes walk from the National Museum and Royal Mile, you’re again close to everything in Old Town.
- As a side note, I recommend Mother India’s Café if you fancy authentic and delicious Indian food – it’s just across from the hotel.
As a 3-star hotel, there isn’t much luxury, but you get a modern, tidy and clean room at a hotel with a pretty cool bar on the ground floor.
So if you want to stay affordably, yet still in a decent and central location, I’d recommend Ibis Edinburgh Centre South.
2. New Town – best area for shopping & cheaper accommodation
Edinburgh’s New Town is a charming and modern area planned and built between the 18th and 19th centuries in contrast to the more chaotic and cramped Old Town.
As previously mentioned, Edinburgh is a relatively small city. So Old Town is indeed the best area for tourists, but New Town is not significantly worse.
Old Town wins because the area has more classic attractions, but whether you stay in Old Town or New Town won’t determine how good your trip to Edinburgh will be.
Princes Street in New Town is Edinburgh’s answer to London‘s Oxford Street, so you can shop to your heart’s content – with a view of Edinburgh Castle and Old Town, which you can reach in just 2 minutes.
You’ll find countless pubs, cafes, shops and restaurants in Rose Street, and I recommend The Abbotsford, a lovely Scottish pub.
If you’d like to stay in a slightly more modern area than Old Town, consider booking a hotel in New Town.
And because Old Town is number 1 on every tourist’s list of areas to stay in Edinburgh, hotels in New Town are typically a bit cheaper, which you can enjoy 😉
New Town is also a bit closer to the following two areas in this guide, where you might not choose to stay on your first trip to Edinburgh, but where I highly recommend visiting and spending a few hours to explore something a bit different from the classic tourist areas in Scotland’s capital.
Also, read my comprehensive guide to Edinburgh’s best things to do.
Places to stay in New Town
There are many places to stay in New Town, and many are of newer construction.
As mentioned earlier, it’s often cheaper to stay in New Town than in Old Town, so let’s take a closer look at some of my favourite hotels in New Town.
The Balmoral Hotel is a luxurious and iconic place to stay in the heart of Edinburgh: right by Princes Street in New Town, but just a 2-minute walk to Old Town.
The location couldn’t be better at Edinburgh’s most famous luxury hotel.
The hotel offers elegant rooms and suites combining modern comfort and classic charm.
The hotel has several restaurants and bars, including the Michelin-starred Number One.
- JK Rowling finished the last Harry Potter book here, and there’s even a suite named after her.
So if you’re looking for luxury, a fantastic location, and a unique Harry Potter connection, The Balmoral Hotel is the obvious choice in Edinburgh.
However, Balmoral is also expensive, so let’s look at some slightly cheaper accommodations in New Town.
Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh is a stylish and comfortable hotel located in New Town near the border of Leith, but still only a 5-10 minute walk to Princes Street.
It’s an excellent modern hotel with spacious rooms featuring comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi.
Courtyard by Marriott Edinburgh is a good choice for those who want to stay in a comfortable and convenient hotel in the city’s heart.
One of my favourite streets in Edinburgh is just around the corner – Broughton Street has some of the city’s best pubs, and I recommend Cask & Barrel.
If you’re looking for something affordable and trendy, the next place is a good bet in New Town.
Yotel Edinburgh is a modern and budget-friendly hotel in New Town – close to Stockbridge, the next area on the list (because it’s my favourite and super cosy!).
The location here is the best of both worlds: you’re close to everything good in the city centre, but you can also quickly walk to Stockbridge and experience a local atmosphere.
This hotel offers compact but functional rooms with well-utilized space, featuring adjustable SmartBeds, bathrooms with rain showers, and free high-speed Wi-Fi.
It’s truly a modern hotel that targets the modern and young audience.
The hotel also strongly focuses on technology, offering self-service check-in and check-out, which I find very convenient.
Yotel Edinburgh is an excellent choice for those who want to stay centrally at a slightly unique hotel that can be booked reasonably priced.
3. Stockbridge – Edinburgh’s best area with local charm
I lived in two different areas in Edinburgh, and Stockbridge was undoubtedly my favourite.
And afterwards, it’s a place I enjoy returning to – and so do those I travel with.
Here, you have what we call a small village in Edinburgh and in a genuinely cosy way.
There’s a bohemian and local vibe in Stockbridge.
Plenty of superb pubs, cocktail bars, vintage shops, and speciality stores are created for locals, so quality is emphasized.
At the same time, the architecture in Stockbridge is quite extraordinary.
You could say that about all of Edinburgh, though; the city is changeable, so you never get tired of just walking around and enjoying the different buildings.
Depending on where you stay in Stockbridge, it takes about 10-15 minutes to walk up to New Town, so you can easily walk into the historical centre of Edinburgh – or take a bus.
Stockbridge in Edinburgh is an excellent place to stay if you want to experience the city’s more authentic and local side.
And you can easily walk along the Water of Leith and see Dean Village, one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems close to Stockbridge.
Places to stay in Stockbridge
As mentioned, Stockbridge is a smaller area in Edinburgh, primarily inhabited by locals, and therefore there isn’t a hotel on every street corner.
However, there are a few good places to stay.
The most obvious place to stay in Stockbridge is The Raeburn, which is a hotel with a large courtyard and a restaurant/pub that I have often visited as a regular guest, just stopping by for a beer after a walk in the lovely Inverleith Park, located right next to it.
This is a charming boutique hotel set in a beautiful Georgian building.
The hotel has only 10 rooms, so booking your stay well in advance is essential, as it’s often fully booked.
The hotel has received excellent reviews from previous guests, and this place is a bit of a hidden gem in Edinburgh. If rooms are available for the dates you are in town, I recommend booking a stay at The Raeburn for a unique experience.
The Raeburn is the perfect choice for a unique and authentic stay in one of Edinburgh’s most charming neighbourhoods.
Nira Caledonia in Stockbridge stands out for its luxurious elegance and intimate atmosphere.
The surrounding area is perfect for those who wish to explore local markets, unique shops, and the more bohemian side of Edinburgh.
It’s located in Stockbridge but at the “end” close to New Town. So, I think the location is perfect in Edinburgh, as you get the best of both worlds (local area + city centre).
Past guests particularly highlight the tranquil and romantic ambience of the hotel, with many describing it as a “home away from home.”
Its location makes it ideal for those who want to experience a more local side of the city while still close to the centre.
See more places to stay in Stockbridge here (there are many holiday apartments with a kitchen and multiple rooms).
4. Leith – the rough area that became trendy 🍹
I thought for a long time about whether to include Leith in this guide.
For most people who have tuned in to read about where to stay in Edinburgh, they won’t look towards Leith when choosing an area.
However, I would still recommend the area to adventurous people who may have been to Edinburgh a few times.
But for first-time travellers and those travelling to Edinburgh with children, I would choose to stay in either Old Town, New Town, or Stockbridge.
Leith was a rough area in the ’80s and ’90s, and if you’ve seen Trainspotting, the main character Mark lived here and was a fan of the local football team, Hibernian Football Club, which plays in the top Scottish league.
That time is long gone, and although Leith can still be a bit rough around the edges, it is no longer an area where you can’t roam.
I lived here for half of my time in Edinburgh and found it exciting!
Especially the area around Leith Shore is genuinely cosy and a place I often recommend tourists take the bus to if they have a few days in Edinburgh and want to see something other than the tourist centre.
In Leith, you will find a more relaxed and authentic atmosphere.
The area is now known for its trendy bars, cafes, and restaurants, attracting the city’s hipsters and foodies. You’ll come across everything from microbreweries and cocktail bars to renowned restaurants like The Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart.
Leith also offers a rich history and culture, and there are actually some significant attractions such as the Scottish Painting and sculpture centre, The Scottish Gallery, and Royal Yacht Britannia.
The waterfront is another highlight in Leith, where you can enjoy a beautiful walk along the Water of Leith down to Stockbridge and Dean Village.
If you’ve already been to Edinburgh a few times and want to experience the city from a new angle, or if you’re looking for some trendy bars and eateries where the city’s hipsters hang out, Leith is the perfect place to stay.
Places to stay in Leith
There are several excellent hotels in Leith, and there are also quite a few unique accommodation options. Let me recommend a couple of good places to stay in Leith here.
We’ll start with a suggestion for those who want to try staying on a ship converted into a luxury hotel.
Fingal – A Luxury Floating Hotel is a unique and luxurious hotel experience in Leith, situated on a beautifully renovated former lighthouse ship.
The hotel is located at Alexandra Dock in the northern part of Leith by the sea and offers guests an exclusive and memorable stay in Edinburgh.
Fingal is a floating hotel, so you’ll get a completely different experience than a traditional hotel stay. The rooms are elegantly decorated with nautical details and modern amenities.
The hotel also has a first-class restaurant and bar where you can enjoy delicious dishes and drinks in a unique atmosphere.
A stay at Fingal is excellent for those seeking luxurious and unusual accommodation in Edinburgh.
If you’d like to stay on a boat in Leith, it can also be done more affordably at Ocean Mist Leith, which is relatively luxurious but costs significantly less than the ultimate luxury experience.
And now, let’s take a closer look at a more classic hotel in Leith 😀
The stylish boutique hotel is housed in a beautifully converted Victorian building, and there is generally a cool and classy vibe.
The rooms at Malmaison Edinburgh are nicely decorated with modern amenities and comfortable furnishings.
The hotel’s restaurant and bar are known for serving delicious dishes and drinks in an atmospheric setting, and they also offer a popular Sunday brunch.
The pub Malt & Hops (which doesn’t serve food), also just a stone’s throw from the hotel, is one of the best pubs in Edinburgh!
So, this is an excellent place to stay in Leith.
5. Haymarket – an area with cheap hotels near the city centre 💸
Haymarket is an ideal area to stay for those seeking a balanced mix of access to Edinburgh’s bustling centre and a more relaxed, local atmosphere.
Haymarket borders Edinburgh’s West End – honestly, I’ve never quite understood where the boundary is, and I think Haymarket and the West End have essentially merged 😄
Here you’ll also find a range of good hotels cheaper than those in the centre.
The transport options are another clear advantage. With Haymarket Station as a central hub, it’s easy to travel to other parts of Scotland or the city centre if you want to avoid walking.
Trams and buses also run regularly, but you’ll also find that the main attractions are within comfortable walking distance, including the charming Dean Village, a 10-15 minute walk away.
It also only takes about 10 minutes to walk from Haymarket to Princes Street in New Town – and if you don’t want to walk, you can hop on the tram.
Another notable advantage of staying in Haymarket is that you’ll likely feel closer to local life in Edinburgh.
While the central areas are often filled with tourists, Haymarket offers a more authentic, locally-driven atmosphere where you can experience the city differently.
Dine in local pubs, shop in smaller stores, and enjoy an evening stroll along quieter streets.
Especially if you head a bit north into the cosy West End area.
Summary of Haymarket:
- Excellent choice for travellers seeking a balance between hustle and bustle
- Affordable yet quality-conscious hotels
- Excellent transport links via Haymarket Station
- Walking distance to Dean Village and Princes Street
- A more local and authentic experience of Edinburgh
Places to Stay in Haymarket
Due to its prime location close to the centre of Edinburgh and Haymarket Station, where it’s easy to travel to Glasgow or other major cities in Scotland, the Haymarket area has always hosted a variety of hotels.
I used to know the area as one solely offering cheap and somewhat inferior hotels, but that’s no longer the case.
Several well-known, quality hotel chains have invested in renovating buildings, and brand-new hotels have also sprung up in Haymarket. Allow me to introduce a few of my favourites.
Four Points by Sheraton is one of those modern gems that offer comfortable and up-to-date amenities.
The hotel is ideally located near Haymarket Station, making it convenient to get around Edinburgh and its surrounding areas.
It’s an excellent choice for those who don’t necessarily want to spend their entire budget on accommodation but still desire a touch of luxury.
Previous guests praise the hotel’s modern design, clean rooms, and easy access to public transport.
voco Edinburgh is another modern and comfortable option for travellers looking to combine affordability with high quality.
Like Four Points, voco is close to Haymarket Station, which ensures good transport links and also makes it convenient to get to and from Edinburgh Airport.
The hotel is known for its spacious, stylish rooms and its quieter location, allowing guests to experience a more local side of Edinburgh.
Previous guests particularly highlight the hotel’s modern amenities and convenient location, providing easy access to both the centre and quieter areas like Dean Village and the streets of the West End.
And let’s also look at an affordable hotel in Haymarket, but not one of the old, worn-out ones – a new and exquisite one!
Hub By Premier Inn Edinburgh Haymarket is ideal for budget travellers who aren’t willing to compromise on comfort and experience.
Although the rooms are more compact than those in the hotels I mentioned earlier, they are cleverly designed for maximum functionality and comfort.
Previous guests especially praise the cosy, modern interiors and the comfortable beds, making it a pleasure to return to the hotel after exploring Edinburgh.
This hotel combines convenience and comfort at an affordable price, making it an excellent choice for those wishing to experience Edinburgh on a budget.
Still unsure where to stay in Edinburgh?
Let me summarize if you still need to figure out where to stay on your trip to Scotland’s enchanting capital.
Old Town is the historic heart of the city and the best place to stay for those who want to experience the city’s top attractions and remain within walking distance of everything.
New Town is a beautiful and elegant part of the city characterised by Georgian architecture.
Stockbridge is a charming and cosy neighbourhood that provides an authentic experience of the local side of the city.
Here, you can stay at the lovely boutique hotel The Raeburn, a unique and original choice in Edinburgh.
Leith is an exciting and culturally diverse waterfront area that offers a more unconventional and local experience. It’s a great place to stay for those who want to explore the city’s trendy bars and eateries.
Haymarket is perfect for travellers who want to stay on a budget but still be close to the city centre. This is the place to stay in Edinburgh if you don’t want to spend all your holiday budget on accommodation but still want to stay near the main spots in town.
I hope you found this guide to the best areas and hotels in Edinburgh helpful.
I genuinely love the city and want all travellers to have the best experience possible, so if you have any questions about your accommodation or Edinburgh in general, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Read all travel blog posts about Edinburgh here.
Frequently asked questions:
What is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for regular tourists?
For most tourists, the best place to stay is often Old Town. Old Town is the city’s historical heart and has a wide range of sights and attractions within walking distance. You’ll find Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, St. Giles’ Cathedral, the National Museum of Scotland, and many other exciting places to explore. Check out my guide on Edinburgh’s best things to do for more ideas.
Is it better to stay in Old Town or New Town Edinburgh?
Well, to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either Old Town or New Town in Edinburgh! The city is pretty compact, so it’s easy to get around no matter where you base yourself.
If you’re into history, then Old Town might be your cup of tea. It’s brimming with medieval charm and has major sites like the Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and the Royal Mile. It’s also home to lots of small alleyways and hidden courtyards ready to be discovered.
On the other hand, if you have a thing for stunning Georgian architecture, New Town might be the spot for you. It’s all about wide, orderly streets and elegant squares, with highlights including the Princes Street shopping district and the Scottish National Gallery. Plus, you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants and nightlife here.
But really, Edinburgh’s not a sprawling metropolis so no matter where you stay, you’ll be able to explore everything the city has to offer.
How many days should you spend in Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is a relatively small city, so if you want to see all the top sights and get a taste of the Scottish capital, it can be done in 2 days. However, 3 days are perfect for a trip to Edinburgh. This allows you to see all the attractions in Old Town but also experience some local areas like Stockbridge, Dean Village, and Leith.
If you want to go on a day trip to the Scottish Highlands, I recommend 4 days, as you will spend one day on such a tour – in return, you will hardly forget the experience as Scotland’s Highlands are some of the most beautiful in Europe (and perhaps the world).
How to get around in Edinburgh?
Most of the city can easily be explored on foot, especially if you stay in the centre, where Old Town and New Town are close. Many of the city’s best attractions are within walking distance, and it is a true pleasure to walk through the historic streets and enjoy the beautiful architecture. There are also buses and trams, but no metro – the city is too small.
Are there any dangerous areas in Edinburgh you should avoid?
There used to be rough and somewhat dangerous areas in Edinburgh in the 80s and 90s, but today there are no distinctly dangerous areas in Edinburgh.
If you are unsure where it is safe to go in Edinburgh, you can always ask the staff at your hotel or local residents for advice and guidance, but generally, Edinburgh is a friendly and welcoming city where tourists rarely experience problems.
I also didn’t experience anything unpleasant when I lived in Edinburgh – only super friendly locals who were always happy to help tourists.