You go to Edinburgh not just for its castle-topped crag, extinct volcano and crooked wynds leading to tartanified streets, but for the promise of an after-hours whisky when it suits you – which is why even some of the city’s best hotels can be a let-down.
The best way to reclaim your solitude after a day of thrills pounding the city’s cobbles is to kick back in style at one of Airbnb's most in-demand properties – here are our favourites.
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Visitors to Edinburgh who want to splash out on a more extreme, bolder stay should look no further than this unusual historic stone dovecote, a building once used for housing pigeons and doves (yes, really). There are illuminated pigeon nesting boxes for unpacking your clothes into, a snuggly-romantic double bed in the tower, a back-to-nature kitchen-lounge with wood burner and a private garden festooned with rose trellises. There’s a pull-out sofa, too, for a family escape with little ones. As the birds fly, the impeccable restaurants and boutiques of Bruntsfield are only a flutter away.
Average price from £150 per night
If you’re already an Edinburgh expert and like the idea of spending the weekends in tourist-free coffee shops, or pondering life on a ramble through the Botanic Gardens, try this upcycled, ground floor duplex in a former factory building in moneyed Stockbridge. The industrial heritage is visible through the brick exterior and gridded steel windows, but it’s also on show because of the Norwegian owner’s pre-disposition for minimalism. The dominant element, however, is what’s on the door step. When you’re done at the deliciously fun Stockbridge Market at the weekend, simply retreat to an artisan cafe or deep-rooted pub.
Average price from £41 per night
Located on the cusp of the Water of Leith on one of the loveliest streets in the city overlooking a private garden (that you have access to), this uncluttered option gets you straight into the swing of Edinburgh’s New Town way of life. Take the stairs past the Georgian-era facade up to a pristine one-bed apartment Jean Brodie would be proud of. Read a classic on the Chesterfield sofa with light flooding in the period sash windows; run a bath after a day of shopping Stockbridge’s best-in-Edinburgh boutiques; or invite friends over for a picnic. Too many neighbourhood cocktails mean you’re just a quick wobble away from the front door.
Average price from £120
The first thing you see when you arrive at this airy, superbly-lit one-bedder is what everyone comes to Edinburgh for: the city’s spectacularly beautiful castle. The storied ramparts dominate the skyline to the west from the front step, but equally impressive is what’s inside. There’s a carefully-selected collection of upholstery and artwork, a charcoal-black fireplace, all mod-cons kitchen and dinky bathroom with hotel-worthy bath salts and candles. All-the-rage Broughton Street – with its fabulous restaurants (Norn, in particular) and pubs (The Empress of Broughton Street) – is a hop and skip away.
Average price from £89
How many city centre apartments can claim an in-your-face volcano panorama? Not many. From this one-bed, eclectic, retro flat, you can stare right out at Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh’s 251m ancient volcano, that has inspired the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott and James Hogg. Inside, the ground floor rental benefits from revitalised stone masonry and a hodgepodge of straight-from-a-photo-shoot furniture – amid the brick-a-brack are retro Polaroid cameras, funky art prints and potted plants, leaving no doubt that this super host has serious taste.
Average price from £79 per night
Like walking into an Ikea catalogue, this three-bed apartment smacks of simplicity and unfussiness, with the host clearly having learnt a lesson from Marie Kondo’s philosophy of decluttering. There are feature fireplaces, geometric nightshades, a king-size bed and bunk and a fabulous kitchen, plus a soft white palette to brighten any overcast Edinburgh day. If you like to explore by foot, then the Union Canal is on the doorstep, leading into the heart of Fountainbridge and Bruntsfield.
Average price from £100 per night
Neighbourhood: West End
Part Brooklyn loft, steampunk hangout and ironmongers’ lair, this one-bed, main door flat near Haymarket Station comes packaged with heavy-duty touches. Each customised room has either exposed brickwork, an iron-pipe framed bed, a metallic radiator, or rugged chair and table combo – talk about laying it on thick. That said, it’s a refreshing look in a city of hotels brimming with tartan throws and Highland motifs. Bear in mind, it’s in the heart of a residential area, so – bad joke alert – no late night heavy metal.
Average price from £85 per night
Not all Airbnbs are private rentals, so don’t let the shared living room, kitchen and dining room put you off this ultra-modern, slate-roofed home. For starters, super hosts Eilidh and mum Eunice are as helpful as can be, revealing a side to Edinburgh many don’t see. Then there’s the light and bright lounge with floor-to-ceiling garden view and stone patio, or ambient wood burning stove for sociable nights at home. The bedroom – with double bed, balcony and Netflix – comes fashioned with a gabled ceiling and large skylight windows. Before too long, you’ll feel like part of the family.
Average price from £42 per night
Neighbourhood: West End
It couldn’t be better located for the gliding electric trams that trundle through Haymarket, but this B-listed, terraced basement apartment with private entrance is of a different era. It’s rich in 1950s-era furniture and retro radios and gizmos, the bedroom awash with a mint-green colour palette from a classic BBC sitcom. Besides the style, there’s function in the open plan kitchen and living room, and plenty of modernity in nearby William Street – one of Edinburgh’s best streets for independent shops and a boozy night out.
Average price from £65 per night
Caught between up-and-coming Polwarth and Shandon, and around 15 minutes’ walk from Haymarket or Fountainbridge, this easy-on-the-eye main door colony flat is light on frills, but heavy on savings. While pretty poky, it’s clean and shipshape and in walking distance to several of Edinburgh’s cheeriest, off-the-tourist trail pubs, including The Caley Sample Room and The Golden Rule.
Average price from £17 per night