Best hotels for kids, including the spot where JK Rowling finished the Harry Potter series
Location, location, location. It’s a popular motto for realtors worldwide but also very appropriate when it comes to selecting the right place to stay in Edinburgh. Studying a map, setting up a tentative itinerary, and determining where you plan on spending most of your time is the key to selecting the perfect hotel or rental. This list includes some great options that work well for families based on location, amenities, price, and overall appeal.
Photo courtesy: The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel
1 Princes St., Old Town/New Town border
The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte hotel, is the epitome of luxury and the place where J.K. Rowling finished the last lines of the final Harry Potter book, leaving behind her autograph on a marble bust in her suite (Suite 552, which you can reserve for a hefty price). With such elegant surroundings, you and your family will feel like royalty from the moment that you walk through the front door. The list of family-friendly amenities, part of the hotel's FamiliesRForte programme, is as long as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: 24-hour on-site babysitting services, kids' activity packs, stuffed owl, Bonnie the owl turndown service with milk and cookies, 50%-off all kids meals, extra cots and beds, family suites, interconnecting rooms, rubber duckies, pint-sized slippers and robes, teen spa treatments, and more. Be sure to inquire about the Summer Family Suite and Two-Room Summer package deals. Grandeur does come at a price, but if you're looking for a high-end experience, you can’t beat The Balmoral. Starts at $461/night.
20 North Bridge, Old Town
This beautiful hotel truly captures the old world charm of Edinburgh. Situated one city block from the Royal Mile overlooking the lovely North Bridge, The Scotsman is centrally located between Old and New Town, neighbors Old St. Paul’s Scottish Episcopal Church (worth visiting), and has a lovely dining room called the North Bridge Bar and Brasserie. Other amenities include an indoor pool, in-room massages (for weary moms and dads), fitness center and spa, family rooms and suites, on-site childcare, and free WiFi. Starts at $228/night.
3/Radisson Blu Hotel
80 High St., Old Town
The Radisson Blu Hotel keeps with the surrounding architecture of historic Edinburgh with its 16th century façade and is situated right in the middle of the action on The Royal Mile, halfway between the castle and palace. Inside, it exudes a fresh, upbeat atmosphere. Children under 16 stay free, when sharing their parents’ room (with some restrictions). Kids 12 and under eat free and are greeted with Global Explorers Entertainment packs, filled with fun activities. Other amenities include family rooms, spa, gym, indoor pool, two restaurants with a children’s menu, and free WiFi. Starts at $200/night; check website for online specials.
10-15 Princes St., New Town
Right across from Waverly Train Station (near Scott Monument and Bubbleparc), this hotel is located near a bustling shopping area and within walking distance to many area attractions. Motel One also has a location in Old Town. While neither hotel has a formal restaurant, they do serve an extensive breakfast in the lounge area every morning, where kids under 6 eat for free. In addition, children 12 and under can stay for free in their parents' room, and snacks are available in the lounge 24/7. It may be lacking in amenities, but it’s attractive, centrally located, and well priced. Starts at $117/night.
If you’re looking for another budget option, the Ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile is a clean, bright, and cheery option, located just off the Royal Mile in Old Town. Although there is no formal on-site restaurant, there’s a lobby/reception/bar area, where breakfast and snacks are available cafeteria-style 24/7. Additionally, there’s a Starbucks on the corner and numerous nearby restaurants. Amenities include an earlier-than-average check-in time, a later-than-average check-out time, and free Wifi. Starts at $140/night.
KidTripster Tip: We came upon a lovely patisserie about two blocks away on North Bridge, just pass the Royal Mile that offers delicious pastries, ice cream sundaes, sandwiches, and salads. It’s called the Patisserie Valerie, 25 North Bridge. Open until 9 p.m. every night, it served as a perfect go-to when we wanted something quick and light.
5/Macdonald Holyrood Hotel
81 Holyrood Rd., Old Town
Located across from Our Dynamic Earth and a short walk from Holyrood Park, Holyrood Palace and Scottish Parliament, the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel is a marvelous option for families. Amenities include spacious rooms, free WiFi, heated indoor pool, fitness center and sauna, extra beds and cribs, and an on-site bar and restaurant offering kids’ meals. All children under 5 stay free of charge when using existing beds, and up to two additional children under 2 stay free when in a crib. Starts at $175/night.
6/Apex Grassmarket Hotel
31-35 Grassmarket, Old Town
Close to the top of the Royal Mile and within a 15-minute walk to many area attractions, the contemporary Apex Grassmarket Hotel is located in a vibrant area. Family rooms are spacious with double beds. Kids stay and eat for free and receive complimentary kids’ packs upon arrival. Other amenities include free WiFi, indoor pool, fitness center, and a great restaurant with a kids’ menu. Starts at $223/night.
KidTripster Tip: Request a room with a view of the castle.
Nestled at the end of Princes Street, Waterloo Place Hotel is another Apex property. The address claims that it’s located in Old Town, but it seems like it should be considered New Town to me. Either way, it’s well-appointed and close to Calton Hill, George Street, Waverly Station, and most area attractions. The Apex Waterloo Place Hotel boasts comfortable family rooms, free WiFi, indoor pool, restaurant, fitness center, and spa. Starts at $176/night.
7/Old Town Chambers Apartments
Roxburgh's Court, 323 High St., Old Town
I personally love staying in a flat or apartment when traveling, because it gives you a feeling of really living in a place. In addition, it affords extra space and the ability to eat in as a family. These apartments come with washers/dryers, as well. The Old Town Chambers Apartments sleep up to six, are beautifully-equipped, and located within walking distance to many attractions. Starts at $235/night.
KidTripster Tip: Consider renting a flat through a website like VRBO. We actually did so in several locations and loved every minute. As with the Old Town Chambers Apartments, it’s usually cheaper when traveling with four or more, gives everybody more space, and offers laundry facilities and a kitchen.
94-96 Grassmarket, Old Town
Excellent location, clever interior design, and some quirky perks make Grassmarket Hotel (different than the Apex Grassmarket Hotel) a great find. Every room comes with a magnetic wall map of the city, so you can scope out your next adventure. Daily map puzzles are left on your wall as an amusing distraction, too. If you want to bike around town, the hotel can hook you up with rentals and a packed lunch. Every room comes with free WiFi and complimentary tea/coffee/cake. Starts at $177/night; book online and get a complimentary bottle of wine; look online for multiple-night discounts.
139 Cowgate, Old Town
Stay Central features 37 rooms on four floors arranged by size: S, M, L, XXL. It's a fabulous choice for large broods, because the XXL rooms sleep up to six comfortably; there’s also a dorm room option that can sleep up to nine. Where else in Europe can you find that? All the rooms are neatly designed and well appointed. Quaintly situated in the same courtyard as a lively and popular pub (open until 3 a.m.), it can get a little rowdy at night; however, all of the large-capacity rooms are strategically housed in the back of the hotel, away from the noise. Breakfast is served daily and snacks are available 24/7. Starts at $152/night.
10/Novotel Edinburgh Center
80 Lauriston Pl., Old Town
The Novotel Edinburgh Center is a spacious modern hotel, offering a host of incentives for families including entertainment and play areas in the lobby and a complimentary gift for your child upon arrival. In addition, up to two children 15 and under stay free with an adult. Breakfast is complimentary. Free WiFi, restaurant with a kids’ menu, adjoining rooms, game room with iPads, and indoor pool all contribute to making this a super family choice. If booking a second room for the kids, you get 50% off that room (some restrictions may apply); sofa beds and baby cots available. Although it’s about a 15-minute walk to The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, it’s worth it. Starts at $140/night.
Marcia Carroll Burzair lives outside of Dallas with her husband and daughter. When she's not writing, she's performing in plays, planning her next trip abroad or fantasizing about buying a cottage on a cliff overlooking the ocean in some faraway land.