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Experience the capital’s rich and storied past first-hand with a stay in one of these hotels in Edinburgh with history
The city of Edinburgh is layered with stories, from tales of medieval kings and queens to rumours concerning Regency writers and Victorian visionaries, and a stay in one of these hotels in Edinburgh with history will get you closer to some of these stories.
We’ve handpicked some of the city’s most iconic hotels with history, whose buildings are as much a part of the city and its past as Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument.
With distinctive Scottish architecture, high-profile past guests and occupants, as well as convenient locations for exploring the capital, these hotels both celebrate the city’s rich past, and provide the modern amenities and trimmings that we have all come to expect from a luxury hotel.
Hotels in Edinburgh with history
Intercontinental Edinburgh The George
The epitome of New Town chic, combined with an authentic sense of Edinburgh’s Enlightenment history, InterContinental Edinburgh The George is a collection of fine Georgian townhouses constructed at the end of the 18th century. In 1840, no.19, which now forms the hotel’s main entrance, was remodelled as the headquarters of the Caledonian Insurance Company by leading Victorian Scottish architect David Bryce and the property has been one of Edinburgh’s grandest hotels since 1881.
Located on fashionable George Street, the elegant townhouses were often frequented by literary figures such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott – popular 19th-century novelist Susan Ferrier, Scotland’s answer to Jane Austen, even lived in one of the houses.
The impressively grand interiors, which include chandeliers, polished marble floors and original Corinthian columns and ceilings, are well-balanced by contemporary bedrooms, which enjoy incredible views of the city. Spend your evening at The Printing Press bar and restaurant, whose name is a nod to the hotel’s literary connections, and enjoy a modern take on traditional Scottish dishes, all washed down with a ‘Rabbie Burns’ cocktail, of course.
Greeting you as soon as you walk up the steps at Edinburgh Waverley train station, The Balmoral is one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable landmarks. When it opened in 1902, the North British Station Hotel, as it was known then, was described as a “free rendering of the Renaissance period, linking the old Scottish architecture of the Old Town with the rather severe classical architecture of the New.”
Upon opening, the hotel’s clocktower was set two minutes early so that people wouldn’t miss their trains, and this quirk is kept today – the only day that the clock runs on time is on the 31 December for the city’s Hogmanay celebrations. As Edinburgh’s most fashionable place to stay, over the years the hotel has played host to many a lm star, princess, and politician, including Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul McCartney, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and British Prime Ministers Edward Heath and Harold Wilson.
In 2007, J.K Rowling finished writing the final Harry Potter instalment in the hotel, and there is now a suite named after her. Still one of the city’s chicest hotspots, The Balmoral was named the 2022-23 AA Hotel of The Year Scotland, at the AA Hospitality Awards. It’s unsurprising, as its interiors are supremely elegant, and its palette pays homage to the colours of the Scottish landscape – woodland greens, sky blues and mountain greys. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy a wee dram of the hotel’s own whisky as you enjoy sublime views of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town.
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian
One of the finest examples of a grand British railway hotel, the Caledonian (or the Caley to those in the know) was once part of the Caledonian Railway’s Edinburgh Princes Street railway station – you can still see the original station clock in the hotel.
The hotel’s red sandstone façade has been an icon of Princes Street since 1903, exemplifying Edinburgh’s Edwardian heritage and cementing its place as one of the city’s most significant landmarks.
With some of the best views of Edinburgh Castle in the whole city, and just steps from Princes Street Gardens, the hotel combines opulent modern luxury with heritage in the most elegant way.
Original Louis XV-style interiors, which include decorative ceilings and cornices, blend beautifully with contemporary, colourful furnishings and refreshing modern touches – such as the Astoria Spa with its indoor pool.
There are two excellent on-site restaurants to choose from – Dean Banks at The Pompadour serves up sustainable produce with a focus on Scottish seafood in a fine-dining setting, while for something more relaxed, Grazing by Mark Greenaway incorporates locally sourced ingredients with unique concept dishes from an award-winning chef.
The Inn on the Mile
Slap bang in the middle of Edinburgh’s iconic Royal Mile, the Old Town thoroughfare that has been the processional route for kings and queens for the last 500 years, The Inn on the Mile is rich in history. The hotel is housed in the former British Linen Company Bank building, built by prominent lawyer and political figure Andrew Fletcher in the mid-18th century – a time of much turmoil in Scotland as the Jacobites took their final stand.
Exemplifying the neo-classical style that earned Edinburgh its title of ‘The Athens of the North’ in the 18th century, the building is notable for its carefully crafted Classical features, including its giant Doric portico, which stands out magnificently among the medieval buildings of the Royal Mile. The hotel celebrates its banking history with an intriguing bar front inside the cosy onsite pub, covered with thousands of old pennies.
The hotel’s bedrooms were built during the bank’s heyday in 1923 and, though now furnished in a contemporary and minimalist fashion, they still display original features such as the cornices whose intricate detailing give some indication of the enormous wealth that once poured through the bank’s grand doors.
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Published six times a year, every issue of Scotland showcases its stunning landscapes and natural beauty, and delves deep into Scottish history. From mysterious clans and famous Scots (both past and present), to the hidden histories of the country’s greatest castles and houses, Scotland‘s pages brim with the soul and secrets of the country.
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