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Where to stay in Edinburgh - a travel guide to Edinburgh's neighbourhoods

Find a place to stay

In Edinburgh, hotels cluster mainly around the UNESCO-listed city centre, so it’s easy to get around. Use this helpful guide to decide where to stay in Edinburgh.

Old Town

Meandering medieval lanes and alleyways mark the Old Town, Edinburgh’s historic centre. Today’s specialist shops and bars fill the evocatively named traditional trading streets like Grassmarket and Cowgate. The Royal Mile joins Edinburgh Castle, the imposing hilltop fortress in the west, to the Palace of Holyrood House and the cutting-edge parliament building. Forming the boundary with New Town to the north, Princes Street Gardens is a welcome oasis even during Festival season. Its calm lawns are home to the National Gallery of Scotland. At its eastern edge, Victorian Gothic landmark Scott Monument greets passengers emerging from Waverley Station.

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New Town

North of the Old Town and bordering the Gardens, Princes Street’s smart department stores and high-street fashion form Edinburgh’s shopping hub. Further north, sweeping terraced crescents, and straight-backed Georgian tenements and townhouses mark the New Town’s style. At the eastern end of stylish boutique-filled George Street, elegant Charlotte Square shows off Robert Adam’s 18th-century ’palace-front’ houses, especially Georgian House, open to the public. Lying east, the Water of Leith meanders through villagey Stockbridge, and further north is the 70-acre Royal Botanic Garden.

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Calton Hill & Broughton

Sandwiched between the Old Town and Leith and lying east of the New Town is Calton Hill. Its peak has views of the city, dominated by the castle and Arthur’s Seat. Climb the 143 steps to the top of the telescope-shaped Nelson Monument. From here, you can take a closer look a the 19th-century City Observatory and the colonnaded National Monument. Downhill to the north, fashionable Broughton teems with cafés, restaurants and delicatessens, and the fresco-covered 19th-century Mansfield Church.

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North-east of the Old and New Town, coastal Leith borders the Firth of Forth estuary, eventually flowing into the North Sea. Once the historic and rough-and-ready heart of the shipbuilding trade, this recently spruced-up neighbourhood now boasts smart waterfront apartments from converted warehouses. Lively restaurant-filled promenade The Shore shows off the areas’ revamped face, popular in the summer. The Ocean Terminal is home to Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen’s private liner until 1997. A Sikh temple and Polish restaurants add to Leith’s cosmopolitan feel.

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Immediately south of the Old Town and Canongate, vibrant Southside is characterised by noble university buildings and a studenty atmosphere. George Square, once residence of Sir Walter Scott’s family, is an elegant 18th-century square.. Just north of that, bordering the Old Town, Renaissance-style McEwan Hall is one of the university’s most graceful landmarks. Further south, parkland The Meadows is dotted with mature trees. East is Holyrood Park whose peak is dominated by the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat.

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