Last Updated on April 6, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Top Hotels in Edinburgh – Boutique and Beyond.
Well may Edinburgh be called Auld Reekie! The houses stand so one above another that none of the smoke wastes itself upon the desert air before the inhabitants have derived all the advantages of its odour and its smuts. You might smoke bacon by hanging it out of the window.
(Robert Southey, 1819).
A couple of hundred years later and the Scottish capital has cleaned up her act a lot! If you haven’t been to Edinburgh, I urge you to visit. And if you have been before, I urge you to explore Edinburgh again. Every time I visit, I find something new. And, every time I fall a little more in love.
There are four districts in central Edinburgh. You’ll probably know the Old Town best, home to Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Holyrood Palace, along with a wealth of medieval buildings.
Walk the Royal Mile, visit the Castle and perhaps buy a cake and cup of tea in the Elephant House, the cafe where JK Rowling worked on her Harry Potter novels.
Don’t forget to stop off and meet Greyfriar’s Bobby the statue of a loyal Skye Terrier who used to accompany his owner, John Gray through the streets of Edinburgh where John worked as a night watchman in the 1850s. When John died of TB in 1858, Bobby went to guard his master’s grave and refused to leave until his own death in 1872. The little bronze statue was erected in his honour by Baroness Angelia Georgina Burdett-Coutts, President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA at the time.
Edinburgh Old Town is separated from the New Town by a gorge, now a park which is often home to festivals, shows and events. Edinburgh New Town isn’t new at all of course. It was built when the Old Town ran out of space to build. James Craig, a young Scottish architect, won the ensuing competition which was held in January 1766. His plan was a simple grid system with the main thoroughfare linking two garden squares. Building started in 1767 and continued in stages till around 1850. Today, together with the Old Town, the New Town with its neo-classical and Georgian architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The New Town is home to Edinburgh’s main shops and is the commercial heart of the City.
Behind the New Town, Stockbridge and Canonmills are traditional, predominantly residential, areas, with boutique shops, bars and restaurants and the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. They are fascinating areas to explore, particularly around the Dean Village and Water of Leith, a part of Edinburgh with a variety of Victorian mill houses and artisan cottages. You can walk along the Water of Leith from Stockbridge to the fourth district, Leith itself in about an hour and a half. A Natural Heritage walk, it’s a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon – and you’ll end up on the coast.
Once a red-light district, Leith has been subject to major regeneration over the last twenty years or so. The port district of Edinburgh, it’s to the north of the city centre on the shoreline of the Firth of Forth. Today you’ll find bars and restaurants along The Shore – it’s regarded as the best food district in Edinburgh. It’s also home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, well worth a visit for a rather charming perspective on the Royal Family.
Visiting Edinburgh for the first time it can be a challenge to decide where to stay so we’ve put together a helpful summary of some of the charming hotels we’ve reviewed.
Thinking of visiting soon? Why not pin this post for later.