September 16, 2010

Travel Guide: Edinburgh, Scotland

By Sarah Doyle

Often considered one of the most beautiful towns in Europe, Edinburgh (pronounced Edin-burra) is virtually two cities in one, with Princes Street acting as the dividing line between medieval Old Town and 18th century New Town. The sum of these two parts makes up Britain’s second most-visited city, where visitors come to explore the majestic Edinburgh Castle, world-class museums, lush greenscapes, and the largest arts event in the world: The International Festival. With a growing menu of first-rate restaurants and cutting-edge hotels, Scotland’s capital city is a place you will want to return to again and again.



From old-world elegance to fashionista-inspired sophistication, Edinburgh’s hotels offer something for everyone. Myriad mid-priced boutique hotels have opened at a record pace, not only expanding lodging options, but also giving guests exceptional in-house eateries and hip bars, to boot.

Hotel du Vin
Offering a seamless blend of Scottish warmth and French sophistication, Hotel du Vin is one of Edinburgh’s most desirable boutique hotels. Nestled beside the Bedlam Theater in Old Town, the 1696 site once housed an asylum where the famous Scottish poet Robert Ferguson took his last breath. Today, the property features 47 guest rooms—including 20 studios and 6 suites— each with Egyptian cotton sheets, a plasma TV, monsoon-style shower, healthy-sized toiletries, and a selection of complimentary DVDs. Warmer weather beckons both guests and locals to take advantage of the enclosed outdoor patio (nearly a Scottish anomaly), which offers a cigar bothy, an extensive wine list, and cuisine from the exceptional Hotel du Vin Bistro. Those looking to escape the Scottish chill, however, may choose to warm up at the whisky bar with a dram of Scotland’s finest.

Address: 11 Bristo Place
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal code: EH1 1EZ
Phone: 0131 247-4900

Ten Hill Place
Doctors will feel right at home during their stay at Ten Hill Place, a hotel owned by and adjacent to Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons (the oldest medical incorporation in the world). Of course, everyone will feel welcome at this 78-room property in Old Town, which features 49 executive rooms, 26 superior rooms and 4 Skyline suites. Earth tones interspersed with plum, sage, and fuchsia create an inviting palette in each room, alongside king-size beds, allergy-free duvets and pillows, free broadband (when using your own laptop), hair dryers, personal safes, and complimentary Scottish shortbread. View-lovers will adore the Skyline suites, which offer stunning views of Arthur’s Seat and the Firth of Fourth. Those seeking a convenient bite will be pleased with the in-house restaurant and bar, where a menu of reasonably-priced fare (including an extensive breakfast buffet) fits the bill.

Address: 10 Hill Place
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal code: EH8 9DS
Phone: 0131 662 2080
Website:; reservations:

Hotel Missoni
Those seeking an unconventional Scotland experience will fall madly in love with Hotel Missoni, a vibrant, modern outpost in a town full of tradition. Missoni, a famed Italian design house, conceived the hotel’s interior, utilizing its trademark combination of stripes, geometrics, fun patterns, and bold colors. Thankfully, the colorful modern furnishings don’t compromise on comfort, with each of the 136 rooms (including 7 suites) offering an array of amenities, including complimentary newspapers, a fabulous De’Longhi pod coffee maker, plush robes, two items of laundry cleaned, internet access, and an iPod connection. Even the bathrooms are dramatic, with their iridescent tiling, vibrantly-hued walls, and glycerin soap in perhaps violet or lime green—not to mention their excellent rain showers. Enjoy a cocktail at the space-age lobby bar before heading to Cucina, the in-house restaurant, which features a modern take on traditional Italian cuisine. How apropos.

Address: 1 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal code: EH1 1AD
Phone: 0131 220-6666

Situated in an attractive residential neighborhood just 1/2 mile from Princes Street, the Elmview bed and breakfast offers exceptional value in a quaint and comfortable setting. Rumor has it, the oldest golf course in Scotland lies directly across the street, and while it has been reduced to only a 36-hole “pitch and putt” course, guests are encouraged to borrow a club and practice their swing on the 500-year old site. At Elmview, guests can choose from five uniquely-decorated rooms, each with a king-sized bed, sleek bathroom with heated towel rail, personal safe, complimentary sherry, free internet access, and a welcome touch of flowers. A cozy sitting room with a well-stocked library, as well as a charming outdoor patio are also on-hand. The complimentary three-course breakfasts are superb and include a wide range of hot specialties, such as traditional Scottish “rumbledethumps” (cabbage, potatoes, and onions) and huevos rancheros.

Address: 15 Glengyle Terrace
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH3 9LN
Phone: 0131 228-1973

The Scotsman
The former home of the Scotsman Newspaper, this five-star boutique hotel just steps from the Royal Mile and Princes Street is the answer to those seeking Scottish elegance and tradition. Great care has been taken to preserve many of the building’s original architectural details, such as elaborate woodwork and an impressive marble staircase that was originally reserved for the newspaper’s highest echelon. Ten floors accommodate 69 rooms (including 25 suites, 1 baron suite, and 1 penthouse), all of which feature an endless list of amenities, including Egyptian cotton bedding, a bathroom with marble vanity and heated towel rail, broadband internet access, complimentary shoeshine and newspaper, private bar, satellite TV, and an Edinburgh Monopoly board—but no air conditioning. Rooms also include an extremely handy “service hatch,” which allows guests to receive room service or items from housekeeping without ever having to open the door. A huge 20,000 square-foot gym and spa are available at no charge and feature the only stainless-steel pool in Scotland, a steam room, and dry sauna. After partaking in a meal at North Brasserie, the hotel’s excellent restaurant, guests can venture into the hotel’s petite Screening Room, which offers movies to both guests and the public.

Address: 20 North Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH1 1YT
Phone: 0131 556-5565

The Howard
Personalized service is the priority at The Howard in Edinburgh’s New Town, where a coat-tailed butler will fulfill your every whim—or at least give you an alternative option. The atmosphere is warm and elegant here, without an ounce of stuffiness, resulting in a boutique hotel that feels nearly like a private townhouse. The 200-year old Georgian-style complex features 18 guest rooms, which boast antique furnishings along with a host of modern amenities, including an LCD flat screen TV with movies on demand, same day laundry and dry cleaning, internet access, 24-hour room service, and in-room massage treatments. Those seeking extra creature comforts should seek out a Junior or Terrace Suite, which may offer a marble bathroom with Jacuzzi, oversized clawfoot tub, rain-head shower, fireplace, kitchenette, and/or private patio. Superior, modern Scottish fare can be found at The Atholl restaurant, where an award-winning Afternoon Tea treats guests to finger sandwiches, traditional pastries, and a selection of artisan teas and coffee.

Address: 34 Great King Street
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH3 6QH
Phone: Tel: 0131 557-3500

The Glasshouse
Parading behind the façade of a 150-year old church, The Glasshouse hotel is the master of disguise, rendering it a wee bit difficult to find for the uninitiated. Once inside, however, visitors find it extremely evident that they are in one of Edinburgh’s most unique, contemporary hotels. As the name suggests, towering floor-to-ceiling windows are a standout feature at this stylish, 65-room hotel at the base of Calton Hill, lending an atmosphere that is bright and modern. Guest rooms offer a wide array of amenities, such as Egyptian cotton bedding, complimentary shoeshine and newspaper, CD players with music library (on request), internet access, private bar, flat-screen satellite TV, hairdryer, 24-hour room service, and bathrobe and slippers. (Note: request a garden view room and you won’t be sorry.) There are also six suites to choose from, which are not only named after single malt Scotches, but include a gratis bottle of the room’s namesake, (not to mention roomy terraces with superb skyline views). A large, modern-style garden is also a bonus at The Glasshouse, which is perfect for cocktails or a lazy, afternoon lounge.

Address: 2 Greenside Place
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH1 3AA
Phone: 0131 525 8200

Le Monde

Scottish tradition is pushed to the wayside at this fun, cutting-edge hotel in Edinburgh’s New Town, where some of the world’s greatest cities are tastefully represented in18 individually-decorated guest rooms. While all rooms offer similar amenities—Egyptian cotton sheets, wireless internet, rainfall shower, bathrobe and slippers, L’Occitane toiletries, under-floor heating, and a Champagne and chocolate-filled mini bar—the décor varies greatly. “Tokyo,” for example, features a cherry blossom mural, red lanterns, framed silk kimonos, and dark wood furnishings, while “St. Petersburg” is bedecked in a palate of silver and ice blue, with décor modeled after Catherine the Great’s palace. Atlantis is one of the most popular suites, with its wall-size blue lightbox; cool, teal walls; and bubbling aquarium. Three restaurants and bars (Paris, Milan, and Vienna) are definitely not for the quiet set, but they do offer a wide variety of reasonably-priced fare. Those seeking a little late-night partying needn’t look further than the Shanghai Club, Le Monde’s hip, pulsating nightclub, located right on the ground floor.

Address: 16 George St.
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH2 2PF
Phone: 0131 270 3900

The Rutland Hotel
Baroque meets modern at this fabulous boutique hotel in Edinburgh’s New Town, where exceptional attention to detail has been paid to every nook and cranny. The designers searched all over the world for the unique furnishings found throughout the hotel, including the individually-decorated guest rooms. Ornamental wallpapers, intricately-carved furnishings, ornate mirrors, and textured drapery are complemented with simple, modern accents, resulting in a look that is never busy. Twelve guest rooms feature Egyptian cotton sheets with goose down duvets, wireless internet access, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV, rain showers, complimentary newspaper and muffins, and an iPod docking station, with two “Castle Suites” offering exceptional views of Edinburgh Castle. Exceptional food can be found at The Rutland’s award-winning restaurant, which focuses on modern brasserie-style fare. Nightlife aficionados will swoon over The One Below, the hotel’s ultra-sophisticated nightclub and bar. Popular with the locals, the dark, jewel-toned space features an iBar (an interactive bar top that changes color and pattern), private iPod booths, one of the best sake collections in Britain, and an elaborate cocktail list.

Address: 1-3 Rutland Street
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH1 2AE
Phone: 0131 229-3402
Website:; info@the

The Balmoral
Originally known as the North British hotel (or “N.B.”), this luxury, Edwardian-style landmark has been an Edinburgh institution since 1902. During a major refurbishment in 2003, great care was taken to preserve the hotel’s historic features while adding a touch of modern finesse. Contemporary elegance can be found in all 168 rooms and 20 suites, which offer a wealth of amenities, including marble bathrooms, fluffy bathrobes, same-day laundry service, internet access, satellite TV, a snack basket, and a walk-in dressing room. In addition to exceptional views of Edinburgh Castle, Balmoral suites include complimentary buffet breakfast, garment pressing, unpacking and packing of luggage, a mobile phone for local calls, free in-house movies, and in-room check-in. Spa aficionados won’t be disappointed with the Balmoral’s version, which treats guests to a 15-meter swimming pool, fully-equipped gym, a dry sauna and steam room, and a candlelit relaxation room to be used post-treatment. Those in search of a good meal will be thrilled with The Balmoral’s Michelin-starred “number one” restaurant, where local ingredients are used to create modern Scottish and French-influenced cuisine. A stay at The Balmoral will not be forgotten.

Address: 1 Princes Street
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Postal Code: EH2 2EQ
Phone: 0131 556-2414; toll free 1 888 667 9477

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