Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay and discount at The DoubleTree by Hilton which has enabled me to share this guide about staying in Edinburgh, I hope you find it useful and informative.
As I exited Edinburgh Waverley station onto Market Street, the narrow passage leading up to The Royal Mile drew me in. Even with a suitcase and backpack in-toe, shuffling up these long well trodden steps (one of many I’d soon learn in this hilly city), set my Edinburgh stay off on an exciting journey through centuries gone by.
The first thing I noticed about Edinburgh was its uniform sandstone buildings, and some of the most enchanting with arches, turrets and Victorian lamps can be seen along The Royal Mile, a historic street that runs between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh hotel – Room with a castle view
The road running beside Edinburgh’s impressive fortress leads down to The DoubleTree by Hilton, a central Edinburgh hotel with a spectacular view of the castle from many of the rooms.
After a long journey on the train from Wales, a walk from Edinburgh’s train station to the hotel gave me an opportunity to stretch my legs and get a feel for a city I’ve longed to visit. I wasn’t expecting the initial steep climb to The Royal Mile, so if you’d also like to stay at The DoubleTree by Hilton you may prefer to take a taxi or bus with your luggage. It’s the only time you’d probably need to rely on the local transport as most of the main sights are within walking distance from the hotel.
If you’re a recent guest of The DoubleTree by Hilton you’ll know that you’re given a chocolate cookie when you check in – for me it was a pleasant surprise.
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My first floor two double bed room with a castle view could comfortably sleep 4 people, it felt spacious thanks to its high ceiling and open floor space, free of clutter. There was a welcome plate of fresh fruit, bottles of water and chocolate truffles, and in the cupboard was a tray containing a kettle and sachets of various teas, coffee and hot chocolate.
The room is also equipped with a mini fridge, hairdryer and toiletries for a bath or shower and the bedding was clean and very comfortable.
The Sky Bar with a view Edinburgh Castle
On the weekends guests can visit the Sky Bar and watch as the city and castle lights up after sunset whilst sipping on a drink. In the warmer months there’s also an outdoor area to soak up a brilliant panoramic view of Edinburgh’s old town – there were conferences on during my stay but I managed to take a peak inside the space and take a few photos of the sunset.
The DoubleTree by Hilton in Edinburgh is part of the UK's Sunset Safaris, a collection of hotels and experiences that combine beautiful places to enjoy a sunset and remarkable wildlife.
The Dining Options at The DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh hotel
Breakfast was served in the Bread St Brasserie, a contemporary, light and airy space at the front of the hotel on the ground floor. Cereals, pastries, fresh fruit, hot and cold drinks were available self service style, and you are given a menu to order hot food from.
Having a breakfast each morning was very convenient to fill up first thing before heading out to explore the sights. There were paper bags by the buffet area which was useful if you’re in a hurry or wish to eat breakfast later.
I had dinner in Monboddo on the first evening which offered a set menu of 2 or 3 courses for £19 and £24 respectively between 5 and 9pm, you can view an example of the menu here.
The 5 unmissable sights to visit in Edinburgh
(estimated walking time from The DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh hotel)
- Edinburgh Castle, 10 minutes (0.4 miles)
- Grassmarket, 6 minutes (0.3 miles)
- Victoria Street, 8 minutes (0.4 miles)
- The Royal Mile, 11 minutes (0.5 miles)
- Princes Street, 10 minutes (0.5 miles)
If you’re planning your own city break over a weekend then I’d recommend these five places to visit, they’re all within walking distance of The DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh hotel and give you a lovely overview of what this city has to offer.
1. Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is an enchanting sight to behold as you pull back the curtains in the morning, built on top of a dormant volcano, it towers above the city and doesn’t give a lot away of what’s actually inside. On select dates between the 19th November and the 9th January 2022 the castle will be open in the evening for its special Castle of Light event.
My highlight was the seeing the Honours of Scotland, having seen the Crown Jewels at The Tower of London, it was fascinating to see these precious objects – inside a protected glass case was a crown and sceptre made for James V and once worn by Mary Queen of Scots, the rival and cousin of English Queen Elizabeth I. Next to it is the Stone of Destiny, a sacred and ancient stone used for coronations.
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Inside Edinburgh Castle is also The Great Hall, a tall red painted room lined with weaponry, and a room where Mary Queen of Scots once held a banquet after returning from France.
Edinburgh Castle also has an epic panoramic view of the city which you can enjoy from many angles. Before you leave, don’t forget to take a look inside the prisons, it’s dark and eerie and brings to life the turbulent human history here.
As the name suggests, this place used to be where people would trade goods back in the 15th century, but nowadays it’s the perfect spot for a bar crawl in the evening as it’s lined with pubs like the Cold Town House, The Wee Pub (Scotland’s Smallest Pub) and The Last Drop which is a reference to the darker side of the local history as many people were executed near this spot including over 100 Covenanters.
3. Victoria Street
Just around the corner from Grassmarket is Victorian Street, one of Edinburgh’s most iconic sights as it sweeps around up a hill, overlooked by taller buildings of a street above. Many fans of the Harry Potter series think this is where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for Diagon Alley, and it’s easy to see how that conclusion was made as you walk along the traditional shop fronts and intriguing window displays, like Museum Context and The Cadies & Witchery Tours.
Just around the corner on George IV Bridge is The Elephant House which is where the author is reported to have penned some of her novels – at the time of publishing it is closed due to a fire.
It shouldn’t take long to wander through Victoria Street, but you’ll probably find yourself returning there a couple of times during a stay as it’s such a magical spot and is often one of the quickest routes back to the hotel.
4. The Royal Mile
The historic Royal Mile is another place you may end up walking parts of regularly, speckled with souvenir shops and stalls to buy cashmere, wool and traditional tartan, it’s a lovely street to window browse and pick up gifts and keepsakes. If you’ve time, head down to Holyrood Palace and step inside one of The Queen’s Scottish residences – I didn’t have chance to as it was closed but it would be top of my list on a return trip.
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5. Princes Street
Princes Street is the place to go if you love a little retail therapy on your city breaks, positioned on the other side of Edinburgh from the train station, Princes Street sits just above a huge garden area that was being transformed into a Christmas Market during my November visit.
Princes Street is on the edge of a block of streets that are primarily shops and restaurants, including a shopping mall with familiar high street brands like Next and ZARA.
If you’re not really into shopping, it’s still worth venturing over to this side of the city and heading up Calton Hill, it’s another magnificent viewpoint over Edinburgh to watch a sunset.