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Edinburgh offers a huge choice of places to stay, from the super posh and ridiculously pricey five-star hotels to rock-bottom bunkhouses and youth hostels. It is a city that anticipates bundles of tourists and travelers, whether backpackers, families, or business types in the Scottish capital on commercial or governmental matters. But be warned, however: During the 3- to 4-week period of the Edinburgh Festival every summer, the hotels fill up. If you're planning a visit at that time, be sure to reserve your room as far in advance as possible. Otherwise you'll end up in a town or village as much as 40km (55 miles) from the city center. And don't be surprised if the rates in Edinburgh are higher during August, particularly at guesthouses and smaller hotels.

The Edinburgh Information Centre, near Waverley Station, atop the Princes Mall shopping center, 3 Princes St. (tel. 0131/473-3800 or 0845/225-5121; fax 0131/473-3881; www.edinburgh.org; Bus: 3, 8, 22, 25, or 31), compiles a lengthy list of small hotels, guesthouses, and private homes providing bed and breakfast for as little as £20 per person. A £4 booking fee is charged, and a 10% deposit is expected. Allow about 4 weeks' notice, especially during summer. It's open year-round; typically the hours are Monday through Saturday from 9am to 7pm and Sunday from 10am to 7pm, though it is open later during the Festival and closes earlier in the winter months.

Tourist Board Rankings

VisitScotland ranks the lodgings at hundreds of hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, and self-catering apartments. While helpful, these stars are largely based upon available amenities, such as 24-hour room service, ironing boards, or spas, which may not be relevant for each and every traveler. Also, not all hotels and guesthouses are part of the scheme, which costs them money to join, although they may be no less attractive.

House-Swapping

House-swapping is becoming a more popular and viable means of travel; you stay in their place, they stay in yours, and you both get an authentic and personal view of the area, the opposite of the escapist retreat that many hotels offer. Try HomeLink International (www.homelink.org), the largest and oldest home-swapping organization, founded in 1952, with over 11,000 listings worldwide ($75 for an annual membership). HomeExchange.org (6,000 listings) and InterVac.com (over 10,000 listings) are also reliable. Many travelers find great housing swaps on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org), too, though the offerings cannot be vetted or vouched for. Swap at your own risk.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.