City Guide: Edinburgh, Scotland

A medieval castle in the heart of the Old Town, where tall granite buildings cling to narrow cobbled alleys. A not so "new" New Town of majestic Georgian architecture, with the smell of hops and malt hanging thick in the air along hills that slope down to the sea. And all of this, set against the backdrop of a rugged natural landscape, rendered either brooding or beautiful by the fickle Scottish weather.

The streets of Edinburgh famously teem with history, but they are also alive with a rich and diverse cultural identity that is always evolving, constantly unravelling and forever surprising even its most seasoned inhabitants. The city is perhaps at its best in August, when artists, actors and musicians arrive for the annual Fringe festival, meant as "a platform for the flowering of the human spirit." Whether you visit in the summer when it's light until midnight, or in the winter when the wind nearly picks you off your feet, Edinburgh is such a beautiful city that you can never tire of just walking, perhaps aimlessly, as you drink it all in.

This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.

Alexander McCall Smith

hotel

A Classical Apartment on the Royal Mile

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This romantic and stylish fourth-floor apartment is located just moments from the Edinburgh Castle and blends old-world charms with all the modern comforts of a home. Wake up to the chimes of St Giles cathedral, throw open the Georgian sash windows and look out to the historic Royal Mile, the Firth of Forth and the Pentlands.

Address

Old Town Edinburgh

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Prestonfield House

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Located on the southeastern outskirts of the city, Prestonfield House is Edinburgh’s most luxurious accommodation option. More boudoir than B&B, this Baroque mansion features rooms lavishly furnished in rich, dark colours with lashings of velvet and silk.

Address

Priestfield Road EH16 5UT

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Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Located just off the Royal Mile this hotel is decorated in Missoni’s celebrated style – the interior is a wonderful mix of colourful hues and famous patterns from the designer. Everything about this place is cosmopolitan and chic, making it your perfect city-break hotel. It’s worth coming for a drink in the hotel bar even if you’re staying elsewhere – their cocktail menu, especially the Hemingway daiquiri, is fantastic.

Address

1 George IV Bridge EH1 1AD

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The Chester Residence

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Situated on a long Georgian boulevard typical of Edinburgh’s New Town, the Chester Residence offers affordable apartments in three elegant townhouses. Its location in the West End makes it perfectly positioned for exploring nearby boutiques and restaurants.

Address

9 Rothesay Place EH3 7SL

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Twelve Picardy Place

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This sophisticated boutique hotel is the perfect choice for those eager to explore Edinburgh’s East End. The interior is tastefully quirky, and along with a wine vault, the hotel has an excellent cocktail bar and restaurant meaning you don’t have to stray far for top quality food and drink.

Address

12 Picardy Place EH1 3JT

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Sun Inn

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Ideal for a romantic retreat and located just outside of the city, the Sun Inn is a beautiful family-run boutique hotel that offers first-class food, drinks and accommodation. It has the balance between friendly hospitality and an elegant, smart ambiance just spot on.

Address

Lothianbridge Dalkeith EH22 4TR

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The Witchery

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

An antique dealer’s dream, The Witchery is located meer moments from Edinburgh Castle. Rooms are draped in velvet and brocade; minimalists be warned, this place is not your jam. Theatrically trussed up, not an awning is left unfringed nor a frame unguilded. The slightly tamer suites – the Turret and the Armoury – are the best of boasty bunch.

Address

Castlehill Royal Mile EH1 2NF

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Dunstane Houses

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Taking the best of Scottish antiquity and pairing it with contemporary comforts, Dunstane House would snide at being summed up as “stately”. A comfortable 35 bedrooms are spread across two buildings, but Dunstane House (the other property is Hampton House) takes top prize. Burnt-orange, velvet-covered chaise longues, canopied beds and copper bathtubs – has someone been snooping on our Pinterest boards?

Address

4 West Coates and 5 Hampton Terrace Haymarket EH12 5JQ

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24 Royal Terrace

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

A grand Georgian house bedecked with art – courtesy of Alan Campbell’s grandiose collection – 24 Royal Terrace is beguiling. Step inside this jewellery-box like boutique hotel and make a beeline for your bedroom. The deluxe comes complete with freestanding cast iron roll-top bathtub in the bedroom that spells seduction. If you’re planning on staying a while in the city, apartments are also available to book through 24 Royal Terrace.

Address

24 Royal Terrace EH7 5AH

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The Principal

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This cosmopolitan clubhouse in Scotland’s historic capital city is sure to ruffle a few feathers. Eclectically fitted – with just the right amount of plaid – the rooms and functional and comfortable with bounceable mattresses and generous floor space. If you feel you need even more space, the Wee House at No. 33 Charlotte Square – the Principal’s hotel within a hotel – fits up to 24 guests. With its own private entrance, debauchery is an inevitability.

Address

38 Charlotte Square EH2 4HQ