Edinburgh offers all kinds of accommodation, from the super posh and fabulously pricey five-star hotels to youth hostels. It's a city that anticipates bundles of tourists and travelers, whether seasonal backpackers, school groups, and families - or professional types in the Scottish capital on commercial and governmental matters.
During the Edinburgh Festival - from late July to early September - the hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and B&Bs 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 may end up in a town or village as many as 40km (55 miles) from the city center. And don't be surprised if the standard room rates in Edinburgh are higher - in isolated cases twice as high - during August, particularly at smaller hotels.
The tourist board's Edinburgh Information Centre is near Waverley Station, atop the Princes Mall shopping center, 3 Princes St. (tel. 0845/225-5121 or 0131/473-3800, or 44-150/683-2121 from overseas; www.edinburgh.org or www.visitscotland.com; Bus: 3, 8, 22, 25, or 31). The local information center, in conjunction with the Scottish tourist board, compiles a lengthy list of small hotels, guesthouses, and private homes providing a bed and breakfast for as little as £30 per person. A booking fee is charged for reservations made using the Booking Hotline, and a 10% deposit is expected. It's open year-round; typically the hours are Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm and Sunday from 10am to 7pm, though it's open later during the Festival and closes earlier in the winter months.
The Scottish Tourist Board is also a source of star ratings, which traditionally have been based largely on a tick-list of amenities, such as TVs, telephones, kettles, ironing boards, and so forth. Thus, the stars can be limited for smaller operations that may not offer all the modern conveniences but are still perfectly good places to stay.
The Internet can be a trove of discounted rates if you have the time and inclination to surf the net. In some cases, the bargains are only available through web-based booking services. Some of these special prices and promotions are noted below. Often, there are onerous cancelation terms. Also check the Edinburgh Principal Hotel Association website, www.stayinedinburgh.net. Finally, booking for multiple nights in one hotel is another way to reduce your bill.
If you have an early flight out and need a hotel convenient to the airport, consider the 244-unit Edinburgh Marriott, 111 Glasgow Rd. (tel. 0131/334-9191), off the A8 on Edinburgh's western outskirts. It offers doubles from about £85 to £150, including breakfast. Facilities include an indoor pool, gym, sauna, and restaurant.
The overnight room prices quoted below are standard rates and carry no special cancelation fees. Last-minute and Internet bookings may get you cheaper tariffs (but may also carry penalties for cancelation). Also, note that in compliance with Scottish law, all premises are nonsmoking (though some will have designated outdoor smoking areas).
Basic Chain Hotels & Hostels
If you're the type of traveler who thinks of hotels as just places to lay your head at night, it's worth checking out the deals available with some of the town's no-frills chains. In the heart of Old Town, try the Ibis, 6 Hunter Sq., Edinburgh EH1 1QW (tel. 0131/240-7000; www.ibishotel.com), where rooms generally are below £100. In the West End, the Premier Inn, 1 Morrison Link, Edinburgh EH3 8DN (tel. 0870/238-3319; www.premiertravelinn.co.uk), is modern and functional with rooms at around £85, although its Leith branch is cheaper still at £65.
A few hostels have private rooms, too. Your best bets include the Edinburgh Central, a five-star hostel, which is part of the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. Single rooms with en-suite facilities start at £34 and twins are £51 and upwards, depending on the season. It is located at 9 Haddington Place, Edinburgh EH7 4AL (tel. 0845/293-7373; www.edinburghcentral.org). Another option is Budget Backpackers at 37-39 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JR (tel.0131/226-6351; www.budgetbackpackers.com). Twin rooms are around £25 per person but don't leave your booking until the last minute.
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.