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Edinburgh Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Balmoral
1 Princes Street
Edinburgh
Scotland EH2 2EQ
Tel: 44 131 556 2414
reservations@roccofortehotels.com
www.thebalmoralhotel.com

It could not be more central or more subtly beautiful, with decor by Olga Polizzi, sister of Rocco Forte, to whose select hotel chain this belongs. On the other hand, its rates could hardly be higher. For the 188 exquisite chambers, Polizzi has selected a heather-on-the-Highland-moors palette: lavender, cream, moss, and peat in costly wools, leather, silks, and linens. The best rooms have views of Edinburgh Castle. But look out (or rather, don't…): A great many of them face inward, with no view at all; even the biggest of the ($600-odd) Deluxe rooms are marred by this problem. The Balmoral Spa has a gorgeous 15-meter pool overlooked by a juice bar, sauna, and steam rooms. There's an impressive gym, and also studio facilities and five treatment rooms using E'SPA products. The fanciest of the hotel's three restaurants (appropriately named Number One) is among the best in the city. If you're after less fancy dining, there's the informal brasserie called Hadrian's. The elegant Palm Court, the hotel's Bollinger Bar, is an open, airy space with comfy settees, a domed ceiling, and a beautiful Venetian glass chandelier—an especially genteel spot to enjoy afternoon tea listening to the soothing melodies of the resident harpist.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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The Bonham
35 Drumsheugh Gardens
Edinburgh
Scotland EH3 7RN
Tel: 44 131 274 7400
reserve@thebonham.com
www.thebonham.com

Once a maternity hospital and then an Edinburgh University dorm, this four-story building on an elegant Victorian street was reincarnated as a hotel in 1998. Nineteenth-century ornamental cornices, wood panels, and high ceilings satisfy the historical cravings of period enthusiasts, but contemporary furniture, oversize lampshades, and huge modern canvases by area artists keep it from feeling frumpy. There are a few playful touches: Two clocks—one marked Glasgow, the other Edinburgh—sit side by side in the library, the Glasgow one running a few minutes behind. In the restaurant (spruced up from its days as the student refectory), French chef Michel Bouyer uses local, organic ingredients in modern European dishes such as pan-fried Aberdeen Angus beef with porcini sauce. The 50 bold-toned rooms are large, with big windows overlooking a large private neighborhood garden (hotel residents are given a key) at the front, or the city's rooftops and church spires at the rear. Each has a combination Internet/TV/DVD/CD unit; most baths have stand-alone showers. For those with rental cars, the hotel's parking lot is an all-important extra in this central neighborhood.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Glasshouse
2 Greenside Place
Edinburgh
Scotland EH1 3AA
Tel: 44 131 525 8200
resglasshouse@theetoncollection.com
www.theetoncollection.com

With glass walls dramatically studding the facade of the 150-year-old Lady Glenorchy's Church, this high-design place next to the Edinburgh Playhouse is self-consciously hip. The 65 spacious rooms have, ahem, b&w art photos of naked women on the taupe walls, polished wood floors, slatted room dividers (in the suites), terraces (mostly), and heated-floor glass-walled bathrooms—and indeed glass-walled walls: The windows are massive. It's all part of a posh mall with a multiplex movie house and pubs. Arguably, the nicest feature is the hotel's roof garden. Replete with lawns, an arch-shaped covered deck, and all-weather armchairs, it's the only one in the city (which says more about Edinburgh's climate than its architects).

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel du Vin
11 Bristo Place
Edinburgh
Scotland EH1 1EZ
Tel: 44 131 247 4900
www.hotelduvin.com/hotels/edinburgh/edinburgh.aspx

The Du Vin chain has built its hip reputation on bold remodelings of unlikely edifices. Its latest effort may prove its most eccentric conversion yet: Set in a former lunatic asylum, this 42-room hotel has many glass walls—some looking inward to the old building's austerely handsome granite armature, some outward upon its architecturally interesting neighbors. These vistas and the high-raftered, angular rooms give the place a quirky charm, but the multi-level layout, accessed by various staircases and a small elevator, can be confusing. Befuddling, too, are the rooms, named for sundry vinous or tobacco substances, which also appear in the decor, bordering on product placement. Such problems aside, the hotel could not be better located for sightseeing, and, in true Du Vin form, guests' needs—be they for food, high-tech media, or skin products—could not be better cared for. At the heart of the hotel is an excellent bistro serving Scottish fare, and the overhanging mezzanine bar promises to become a local favorite.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel Missoni Edinburgh
1 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh
Scotland EH1 1AD
Tel: 44 131 220 6666
info.edinburgh@hotelmissoni.com
www.hotelmissoni.com

Edinburgh is many amazing things, but fashion destination it ain't. So Italian label Missoni's decision to open its first hotel here in June 2009 came as a bit of a surprise. (We'd guess there was some appeal to being a big fish in a small pond, since it would be harder to attract attention with the same concept in Milan.) The hotel—spearheading Missoni's global charge into South Africa, Oman, Kuwait, and Brazil—has bagged a prime spot on the corner of the historic Royal Mile and George IV Bridge, a five-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle. The six-floor modern sandstone building rubs shoulders—rather brazenly—with the Old Town's narrow medieval town houses. But you don't expect understatement from Missoni. Indeed, the brand's trademark vivid stripes and zigzags are spread throughout the public spaces and 136 guest rooms, in geometrically patterned artwork, jewel-toned bedspreads and upholstered chairs, black-and-white floral rugs and drapes, and even a seven-foot reel of yarn in the lobby. Judicious doses of neutral shades help prevent sensory overload, however, and a few Scottish pieces—such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Ladderback chairs—serve as a reminder that you're not in Italy. The bathrooms are a sultry study in dark Vitrex mosaic tiles and purple or red walls, with spacious glass-paneled showers (five out of the seven suites also have tubs). Missoni's own colorful toiletries complement the decor, as do the cool, patterned robes. Fourteen rooms are housed in an adjacent older building, but with the exception of the Lawnmarket suite—accessible by a spiral staircase—they're not worth booking: The charm of period features such as exposed beams is offset by small windows and a lack of soundproofing (the drone of bagpipes on a loop from outside can get aggravating). Stick to the new building with its 21st-century fittings, like AC and floor-to-ceiling windows with postcard-ready views. A hip little lobby bar and Cucina, an authentic Italian restaurant, complete the most stylish addition to Edinburgh's hotel scene. If you want to bed down somewhere cool and contemporary in this ancient city, the Missoni hotel is your place.—Nicola McCormack

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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The Howard
34 Great King Street
Edinburgh
Scotland EH3 6QH
Tel: 44 131 557 3500
reserve@thehoward.com
www.thehoward.com

Located in three adjoining town houses that front one of the New Town's widest cobbled streets, this genteel hotel is all about tradition and tailored service—making it the first choice for those in search of authentic Georgian luxury. Palettes range from airy creams and golds to dramatic browns and reds in the 17 rooms, which are fitted with Georgian-style curtained wardrobes, heavy drapes, and romantic canopied or four-poster beds. The rotary Bakelite telephone in each room is a nice touch, but modern phones are also available for those who prefer to speed-dial. Authenticity also—thankfully—doesn't discount an elevator. The three Terrace Suites are huge and have their own veranda and a private entrance, but even the smallest luxury double rooms (Ainslie, Cramond, and Ravelston) are decidedly uncramped. There's a pastoral mural over the marble fireplace in the bright, airy Atholl restaurant, where breakfast and Scottish dishes with a modern twist (think roast salmon with wilted spinach, potato blini, and cardamom butter sauce) are served, while the rich-toned, chandeliered drawing room is the best spot to enjoy afternoon tea or a dram of whisky. Out back, there's a terraced garden and that all-important city-center parking lot.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Le Monde
16 George Street
Edinburgh
Scotland EH2 2PF
Tel: 44 131 270 3900
Fax: 44 131 270 3901
www.lemondehotel.co.uk

A refurbished town house in the city center, this $22-million boutique hotel opened in March 2006. Its eccentric concept could have gone badly wrong—each of the 18 rooms reflects a different city's vibe and aesthetic—but discerning taste saves it from theme-park tackiness. Yes, you might wake up with a geographical hangover, but the levity adds a twist to the definition of luxury accommodation. The New York loft has exposed brick, brown leather sofas, Miles Davis CDs, Sex and the City DVDs, and the New York Times's front page delivered daily; Moroccan lanterns and mosaic screens are paired with burnt-ocher walls in the Marrakech suite, where the sound track is Tea in Marrakech, the movie provided is Casablanca, and the front page of Morocco's Al Jarida Al Maghribia newspaper shows up daily, whatever your language skills. Most of the rooms—divided into Club Class (standard), World Class (intermediate), and Different Class (best-appointed)—have 42-inch flat-screen TVs, and all bathrooms have pebble walls, deep baths, and rainfall showers. In the same building are an assortment of cafes, bars, and a nightclub that also follow the global theme, from Milan to Paris to Tokyo. Unlike in the rooms, the execution is an assault to the senses, but that's not keeping the crowds away—light sleepers should book rooms on the third floor to avoid the din.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Prestonfield
Priestfield Road
Edinburgh
Scotland EH16 5UT
Tel: 44 131 225 7800
www.prestonfield.com

As far from minimal as you can possibly imagine, this restored Jacobean mansion is extravagantly rococo—all silk brocades and ormolu, tasseled velvet cushions, hand-blocked wallpapers, Venetian mirrors, and walnut-wood beds. The dominant color is "lipstick," with "gilt" a close second—but as bordello as it sounds, it's all utterly theatrically fabulous (if you like that sort of thing) and quite tastefully authentic underneath it all, too. A complementary bottle of Champagne in your room when you check in will soften the focus anyway. Owner James Thomson, well known around town for his 25-year-old restaurant (and hotel) The Witchery, had loved the place since he waitered here during catering college. Finally he bought it in 2003, then spent about $6 million doing it up. Despite being in the city, you get to revel in the countryside, with Highland cattle and peacocks strutting improbably around the hotel's 29 acres. The grounds, which have Wi-Fi for those who like to wander around with their laptops, have huge amounts of roses and topiary bringing the opulent feel of the interior to the outside. The swanky restaurant, Rhubarb—so named because this was the first Scottish estate to grow the stuff—is beloved of the more glamorous breed of rock star and J.K. Rowling.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Rutland Hotel
1–3 Rutland Street
Edinburgh
Scotland EH1 2AE
Tel: 44 131 229 3402
info@therutlandhotel.com
www.therutlandhotel.com

The Rutland Hotel, housed in the 19th-century home of Joseph Lister (the man we can all thank for founding antiseptic surgery), is located at the west end of Princes Street, an ideal central base in the city. The property was updated in 2008, which added glamour to the 12 individually decorated guest rooms with extravagant colors and baroque design. Wi-Fi, plasma-screen TVs, iPods, goose-down duvets, and Egyptian bed linens ensure a comfortable stay, but the real stars are the views to Edinburgh Castle from rooms 5 and 11. The first-floor restaurant is called Kyloe (an old Scots word for cattle), and Scottish Borders beef takes pride of place on the menu. Party people can choose between the ground-floor cocktail bar or a booth in the One Below lounge club in the basement.—Jonathan Trew

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Scotsman
20 North Bridge
Edinburgh
Scotland EH1 1YT
Tel: 44 131 556 5565
reservations@thescotsmanhotelgroup.co.uk
www.thescotsmanhotel.co.uk

On the North Bridge, practically on top of Princes Street and the Royal Mile, this grandiose 19th-century pile has a distinctive feel to it—maybe because of the almost palpable presence of inky-fingered chaps with green visors (it's named after the newspaper that was published here). This explains why the breakfast menu is in the form of a newspaper and there are Editors Rooms and Publishers Suites—maybe also why rooms have the marvelous amenity of computer with printer. Hopefully you're traveling with a companion so that you can also take advantage of the Edinburgh Monopoly set in the armoire. Someone has had fun stocking the minibar, where you'll find Scottish treats such as Tunnock's Tea Cakes and cans of Irn-Bru (excellent for hangovers) among the usual fine wines and macadamia nuts. Decor is masculine übercorporate in tones of spice and plum, with oak paneling and more than 50 different Scottish Estate tweeds (not tartans); there's also a "privacy hatch" so that the room-service waiter won't interrupt your Monopoly. Public spaces are quite fancy, with the excellent Vermilion restaurant serving Scottish dishes, the North Bridge Brasserie, a private screening theater, and an amazing slate and stainless steel pool. The Cowshed Spa has five treatment rooms as well as a relaxation room, and has formulated a special Highland Cow bathing elixir for the hotel.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Tigerlily
125 George Street
Edinburgh
Scotland EH2 4JN
Tel: 44 131 225 5005
reservations@tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk
www.tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk

George Street was once home to a sober collection of shops and financial institutions. Tigerlily was one of the first of many glittering hotels and nightspots to sprinkle party dust on the proceedings. Tigerlily doesn't sound very Scottish, but that's the point. It's an enclave for local thirty- and fortysomething professionals who aren't into the tartan-and-whisky charm of their forebears' haunts and want to party in a cool urban scene. So far, the hotel guests follow suit—trendy and willing to drop a bit extra for a stylish weekend break. The top three floors house 39 white and beige rooms with curtains, chairs, and cushions in contrasting colors, such as turquoise and brown, or moss-green and purple. In addition to the plasma TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPods, suites also have remote-control fireplaces and portable PlayStations. Some of the smaller suites are oak-paneled, which works well with the high Georgian ceilings, but one has dramatic black walls, a retro hanging basket chair, and even black (perfumed!) toilet paper from Portugal. The Georgian Bar is a high-glamour, feminine affair with fuchsia seating and a white quartz bar—try the organic contemporary afternoon tea. A large modern space at the back of the building has been cleverly divided into intimate spaces, including two glass-ceilinged courtyards, a sexy black bar, and a restaurant serving a contemporary menu loaded with seafood and dessert platters perfect for sharing.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.