Edinburgh is a place of stories, of creative arts, of history. Most famous for its festivals, Edinburgh is perfect at any time of year – though outside of festival season it is a very different place. In Autumn and Winter, and even for a lot of Spring, it can be a grey, blustery, rainy city, but that somehow only adds to its gothic charms. As a centre of Scottish literature and culture, it is unrivalled and superbly rich. In July and August, when the festivals are on, accommodation prices at least double, but otherwise, budget accommodation is plentiful and central. The main attractions are in the centre, both in the old and new parts of town, so all of the districts below are central, providing easy access to everything that Edinburgh has to offer.
Gothic, atmospheric, ancient… Edinburgh may just have the perfect Old Town. The busy, vibrant Royal Mile is full of hotels, souvenir shops and street entertainment, while little alleyways lead off to hidden taverns and restaurants. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh Castle and the coffee shop which claims credit as the place where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter are all within the Old Town. There is a huge variety of accommodation available, and plenty of it is value for money.
Princes Street is Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare, located in the New Town. It’s many people’s first introduction to Edinburgh, as the Waverley train station is at one end of it. The Princes Street Gardens occupy a space between the old and new towns and are a very pleasant place to wander through. The former Jenners department store, now House of Fraser, still offers a classy, old-fashioned shopping experience and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the area. Princes Street is a prime spot for accommodation and includes budget options. It’s perfectly located in the centre of Edinburgh, easy for getting everywhere, and it’s just a short – if steep – walk to the castle.
Just East of Waverley Station are the Regent Gardens and the area surrounding Leith Walk. It’s easily within walking distance of Princes Street and the Old Town, but offers a quieter, more residential place to stay. Characterful guesthouses in grand whitewashed buildings offer the best value for money in this area and there are local cafes and artisan delis to explore, along with the main attractions of the city.
Haymarket Station bookends the west end of central Edinburgh. The Haymarket district is a great spot for finding a stylish, concept hotel at a real bargain. It’s just a ten-minute walk to the castle or Princes Street Gardens, so it’s very well-placed to make the most of Edinburgh’s attractions. From Haymarket Station, buses go to Edinburgh Zoo, taking just 10 minutes – a really convenient way to go and visit the famous pandas.