Scotland’s capital is one of the most attractive cities in the UK. Its mix of medieval, neo-Gothic and Georgian architecture alongside a castle atop a dormant volcano and an abundance of green spaces make every twist and turn a feast for the eyes. The cobbled streets of the Old Town are lined with artisanal cafes, museums and vintage shops. While the New Town brims with art galleries, designer stores and trendy bars. International, Fringe, film, jazz and science festivals, along with unique smaller events draw visitors from around the globe during the summer months and a Christmas festival – with its markets and fair – lights up Edinburgh come December.
The century-old Perthshire spa resort brings its famous quintessential Scottish luxury to the heart of Edinburgh. In 2022 the brand completed the refurbishment of the iconic former Bank of Scotland HQ, a Grade A-listed building on St Andrew Square. The boutique property has a small number of bedrooms decorated in a modern style, but reflecting a timeless Georgian townhouse elegance. Guests and the general public can mingle in The Spence, an art deco all-day dining establishment, or in the rooftop bar. The bank’s old vault accommodates the wellness area, including a cryotherapy chamber and infrared sauna.
Virgin Hotels Edinburgh
Taking up residence in the Old Town’s India Buildings, the Virgin Hotel is homey, plush and contemporary, bedecked in hues of cream. Naturally, you’ll find plenty of pops of red around the place — in the in-room Smeg mini-fridges, on doors and forming the arrival carpet into the lobby. Do stop to look up once inside — the glass cupola ceiling and atrium are quite something when viewed from ground level especially. Dine in the Commons Club for a little old-world glamour, order food and drinks in Eve for a funky feel and spend time in the Victorian Funny Library. Dogs are welcome at the property too and get their own food menu.
Originally built to transport keepers and supplies to lighthouses around Scotland, this heritage vessel is now an AA five-star hotel with AA Rosettes. Docked in Leith, the ship provides wonderful waterside views, as enjoyed from the restaurant (named after Fingal’s original purpose) and the deck, where guests can partake of artisanal cocktails as the sunsets over the sea. Each of its 23 cabins has been named after a lighthouse and comes equipped with Noble Isle amenities. Set over one or two levels, they feature soft curves, with an interior design reflecting the glory days of mid and early-20th-century travel.
Market Street Hotel
A Carlton Collection Hotel, Market Street hotel is the first Design Hotels member in Scotland and it is clear to see why. The hotel interior design has been led by award-winning team FG Stjil and showcases a perfect balance of contemporary finishings whilst firmly acknowledging the historic charm and local artistic influences. Market Street hotel is located in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town the hotel boasts 98 boutique rooms and suites and for hotel residents and non-residents Nor’Loft the rooftop Champagne lounge on the seventh floor is THE place to enjoy a sophisticated drink coupled with stunning panoramic views of the city.
Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa
The 269 rooms at this Grand Hotel overlooking Festival Square, feature Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience beds and marble bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs. Set right in the commercial heart of Edinburgh, close to financial institutions, the shops of Princes Street and walking distance from the Old Town, this hotel suits all types of travellers. But many (including locals) come here purely for its remarkable spa. At the very top is an outdoor infinity hydropool with stunning views, while inside, there’s an upscale thermal suite, a large swimming pool and treatment rooms. Also onsite is the One Square restaurant and One Square Bar.
The Glasshouse, Autograph Collection
The highlight of this boutique establishment is its rooftop garden terrace with far reaching views. Not only a convivial place to take the ozone with a cocktail in hand, this space also serves a practical purpose as home to a variety of plants and herbs, which are used in the hotel’s dishes and beverages. Guests can also drink inside in the Snug and sample the best of Scottish cooking at the Observatory restaurant. The Glasshouse accommodates 77 bedrooms, all with floor-to-ceiling windows, Nespresso coffee machines, artworks and individual design.
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh
Housed in a Victorian building that dates back to 1903, this hotel is considered to be one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and was one of the British grand railway hotels. Nowadays The Caledonian is perhaps most renowned for its excellent cuisine. Dean Banks at The Pompadour, the flagship restaurant by a star of TV’s Masterchef, has been awarded a coveted Michelin star. Then there’s Grazing by Mark Greenaway and Peacock Alley for drinks and snacks. The Waldorf Astoria property also offers a Guerlain Spa, with treatments using 111SKIN face and body products.
Radisson Collection Hotel
As the only five-star hotel on the city’s High Street, there’s no better-placed luxury property for sightseeing the UNESCO-listed landmarks. It’s one of two Radisson hotels in the city centre; guests have access to the facilities (including a pool and sauna) at the other just a five-minute stroll away. Book one of the nine suites if you’re seeking a bold, colour-filled and bohemian aesthetic; each has been individually designed by native artists and designers. Interconnecting and accessible rooms are also available. For onsite wining and dining, there’s the Cucina restaurant and the Epicurean bar.
Liveried doormen await those arriving to stay this grand dame, Edinburgh’s most famous hotel. The Balmoral stands sentinel over the city, straddling the Old and New Towns from its sizeable perch on Princes Street and North Bridge. Steps from Waverley Station and a minute’s walk from the Royal Mile, its location is hard to beat for tourists. The Number One restaurant has a Michelin-star, art pieces lent by London’s Royal College of Art and a Scottish oak triptych. Brasserie Prince caters for relaxed meals, with its French menu, lamps and banquette seating. And Palm Court is the regal setting for The Balmoral’s award-winning Afternoon Tea.
Cheval The Edinburgh Grand
A former bank, this restored 19th-century building on St Andrew’s Square now accommodates high-end apartments. These range in size from studios to three-bedroom residences, providing a home-away-from-home experience during a longer stay. The apartments are serviced daily and include Nespresso machines. Cook in your own space, or eat in-house at The Register Club, with its top-floor (and top drawer) Art Deco ambience and creative libations. And you’re only steps from multiple eateries for fine or family dining. Travelling with your four-legged friend? They’ll get their own bed, blanket, toys and treats on arrival.
Cheval Old Town Chambers
Taking the aparthotel to another level, Cheval Old Town Chambers takes advantage of all of the 15th-century charm found within its tenement homes across three buildings. But this is offset by clean contemporary lines and modern Scandi-inspired furnishings. Choose a studio, an apartment with a mezzanine, a private outdoor terrace, or a four-bedroom townhouse. You’ll have access to a concierge to assist you around the clock, a gym and a lobby with comfortable seating for a little fireside reading, as well as Luckenbooths restaurant for a touch of trad. Cheval Old Town Chambers welcomes pets and families and has several accessible apartments.
Edinburgh, by city standards, is pastoral, as proven by the secluded and picturesque Prestonfield House. Surrounded by 20 acres of immaculate parkland, which includes a beautiful walled garden, a pond and wandering peacocks, the theatrically designed country house mansion is but minutes from the capital’s hub, on its Southside. Guests are enveloped by antiques, fine art, and opulent fabrics, creating an atmosphere of grandeur and sophistication. Its award-winning restaurant, Rhubarb, is set in a restored Georgian dining room, and there are a number of indoor and outdoor spots for afternoon tea or a tipple. Book one of its 23 stately home-worthy suites and you’ll feel like royalty.