Taking young children on a city break can have its challenges, so it’s important to get the accommodation right. While Edinburgh is relatively compact, there’s a lot to see and there are hills everywhere. But, with careful planning, it is possible to do it justice in a short break.

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Luckily, given the Scottish climate, there’s so much to see and do indoors for kids in Edinburgh – museums, Harry Potter shops and, of course, a big old castle on a hill. But if the weather lets you, there’s no better UK city for wandering medieval streets, people-watching in pavement cafes or listening out for the boom of the 1 o’clock gun. Edinburgh has a look, feel and energy all of its own – and during the Festival month of August it’s utterly unique.

Having a comfortable family base to return to at the end of a busy day's sightseeing is key to a good city break with the kids, so we've rounded up some of the very best family-friendly hotels and accommodation in Edinburgh for all budgets.

Best family hotels and holiday stays in Edinburgh at a glance

  • Best luxury family break: The Balmoral, from £595
  • Best for large family groups: Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity, Edinburgh Grassmarket, from £160
  • Best city centre budget hotel: Travelodge Edinburgh Central Waterloo Place, from £64.99
  • Best hotel with a pool: Norton House Hotel & Spa, from £350
  • Best waterfront accommodation: Britannia Apartments, from £129
  • Best for Harry Potter fans: Apex Grassmarket Hotel, from £165
  • Best boutique hotel: Fraser Suites, from £120
  • Best small hotel: The Dunstane Houses, from £305
  • Best for the Royal Mile: Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre, from £235
  • Best for self-catering: The Rutland Hotel & Apartments, from £250

Here’s our pick of the 10 best family hotels and holiday properties in Edinburgh

1. The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh

5-star luxury hotel

— Best luxury family break

A large and luxurious double room with green furnishings at The Balmoral in Edinburgh

Key info: Family rooms from £595 (room only) | Number of bedrooms 167 | Swimming pool yes | Dogs welcome yes, if under 20lb in weight. Contact management about bigger dogs | Parking valet parking, £40 per night | Waverley station 100m | Advance bookings only

Nearby attractions: The Balmoral is a 10-minute walk from Camera Obscura World of Illusions, as well as Edinburgh Castle and the various attractions and gifts shops of the Royal Mile (think tartan, fudge and shortbread!)

As well as belonging to the luxurious Rocco Forte Hotels collection, the address of The Balmoral says it all. Sitting at the head of Edinburgh’s main street, with amazing views of the castle on one side and the elegant streets of the New Town on the other, The Balmoral is arguably the city’s most iconic hotel. An address like this comes at a price though, obviously!

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But guests seeking a bit of luxury will want for nothing here; the pool and spa are among the best Edinburgh’s hotels have to offer (one guest commented they even provided a robe and slippers for her 5-year-old in his size). And to say the rooms are sumptuous is definitely an understatement.

The hotel can offer extra beds for kids within 1 room, or The Balmoral Suite boasts 2 bedrooms of its own. Room 552 is where JK Rowling finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007 and has now been rechristened the JK Rowling Suite (complete with a Hedwig door knocker).

Pros: Iconic hotel, central location, luxurious touches, Harry Potter connections
Cons: Expensive, parking costs are high

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and The Balmoral

2. Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity, Edinburgh Grassmarket

City centre apartments

—Best for large groups

External shot of the Wilde Aparthotel's apartments

Key info: Family rooms from £160 | Number of bedrooms 128 | Swimming pool no | Dogs welcome Assistance dogs only | Parking no | Waverley station 1.5 miles | Facilities for disabled guests

Nearby attractions: Edinburgh Castle is a 5-minute walk away, but as it’s quite a stiff climb it may be more like 10 minutes with a small child and/or buggy. Greyfriars Kirkyard (home to the Greyfriars Bobby statue) and the National Museum of Scotland are also 10 minutes on foot.

This new, modern and stylish complex has a large number of well-equipped rooms with enough facilities for groups to eat and hang out together. Just be aware that rooms vary in size – some are quite small while others have sofas and living space depending on what you book. Kitchenettes typically include a fridge, microwave and small stovetop, so realistically you’re not going to be whipping up anything grand. But when an evening meal out is just too much for little ones after a busy day of sightseeing then it’s just the job for cooking up something simple and filling. Handily kids’ meals and a snack bar are available on-site too. While there’s no pool, there is a small fitness centre (and a self-serve laundry – genius!).

The location’s wonderful too, tucked away right at the foot of Edinburgh Castle and a couple of minutes from the trendy Grassmarket area. Some rooms have castle views. One guest who reviewed it was part of a group of 14 who stayed. "The staff went out of their way to make sure we were all happy and comfortable,” she said. Another said it felt like having her own flat in the centre of the city.

Pros: Home from home, good value, central location
Cons: Kitchen is basic for large families, no parking facilities

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity

3. Travelodge Edinburgh Central Waterloo Place

Budget chain hotel

— Best city centre budget hotel

External shot of the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Waterloo Place hotel

Key info: Family rooms from £64.99 | Number of bedrooms 34 | Swimming pool no | Dogs welcome yes | Parking no, but guests get 15% discount at Q-Park Omni car park (£22 per day before discount) | Waverley Station 170 metres | Children eat free when adults buy breakfast

Nearby attractions: Edinburgh’s largest theatre, The Playhouse, is a 5-minute walk from the hotel and Edinburgh Castle is a 15-minute stroll away. And it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from Princes Street.

While it’s never going to win any luxury design awards for its trademark blue and red interiors, this branch of the trusty Travelodge brand is housed in a handsome sandstone building in Edinburgh’s New Town. Passing higher-end hotels in the same area makes a stay here feel like a bit of a steal, plus being close to the Playhouse means there’s a wealth of family-friendly restaurants nearby. The Omni Centre alone has a couple of chain eateries that serve food at child-friendly times including Nando’s and Tony Macaroni.

With Travelodge, you know what you’re getting – no bells and whistles of course, but the family rooms are said to be surprisingly spacious. Some even have views of Edinburgh Castle. As one reviewer said, “We were looking for a hotel that was centrally located, somewhere to lay our heads that wasn’t going to break the bank.” Can’t argue with that!

Pros: Affordable, great location, free breakfast for kids (with a paying adult)
Cons: No extras or luxuries, have to park off-site

Book at: Expedia and Travelodge Edinburgh Central Waterloo Place

4. Norton House Hotel & Spa, Newbridge

Luxury hotel and spa

— Best hotel with a pool

The swimming pool at Norton House Hotel & Spa in Newbridge

Key info: Family rooms from £350 | Number of bedrooms 83| Swimming pool yes | Dogs welcome yes | Parking yes, free | Dalmeney Station 3.5 miles | 5-minute drive from Edinburgh airport, trams go from the nearby park and ride into the city centre

Nearby attractions: Ingliston Showground, which hosts events like Comic Con and the Scottish Festival of Motoring, is a mile away. Edinburgh International Climbing Arena with climbing facilities for children aged 4+ as well as soft play areas, is a 5-minute drive from the hotel. Cramond beach is 5 miles away. Deep Sea World aquarium is 7 miles away in North Queensferry.

Set at the end of a tree-lined drive, in the middle of 55 acres of open fields, it’s hard to believe central Edinburgh is just 20 minutes’ drive from Norton House. It still feels a bit like a stately home, but one that’s kitted out with a modern pool complex, which boasts a steam room, sauna, hydrotherapy and a full range of relaxation treatments. Some bedrooms are in the historic part of the house, while others are in the contemporary West Wing.

On-site there’s a large restaurant with a children’s menu, so there really isn’t much reason to have to leave the hotel. It’s dog friendly, so for families who do want to get out and about there’s lots nearby to explore on foot with a pet in tow. Staff come in for high praise too – one guest said, “Nothing was too much hassle. The room service was amazing, even at 3am for our baby.”

Pros: Free parking, everything you need is on-site, beautiful countryside location
Cons: Away from the city centre attractions, expensive

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and Norton House Hotel & Spa

Looking for more family days out in Scotland? See our roundup of the best family days out in Scotland here

5. Britannia Apartments, Leith

Serviced apartments

— Best waterfront accommodation

An apartment with waterfront rooms at Britannia Apartments, Leith

Key info: 2-bedroom apartment from £129 | Swimming pool no | Dogs welcome no | Parking yes, free | Waverley Station 2.5 miles | Many apartments have sea views | Damage deposit is required

Nearby attractions: The Royal Yacht Britannia is a 5-minute walk, as is Ocean Terminal, which has a wide range shopping, eating and leisure facilities including cinema and soft play. Portobello beach is 3 miles away, and Cramond beach is 4 miles away.

This purpose-built apartment complex may lack the character of some of its city centre rivals, but being in the Port of Leith makes this a completely different offering. The apartments are a good size, bright and airy, and are equipped with kitchen essentials and a washing machine.

Leith itself may be a historic port area, but these days it’s full of classy harbour-front apartments, bars, cafes and restaurants (including some of the very best in Scotland). These apartments don’t sit in the chic postcode sadly, but they’re a stone’s throw from the Royal Yacht Britannia. This was the late Queen’s floating palace until its expense meant it had to be retired in the 1990s. Now it’s a 5-star visitor attraction with a luxury onboard hotel (NOT child-friendly, unsurprisingly!). They are also just a few miles from Edinburgh’s city centre.

Pros: Your own washing machine, room to relax as a family, plenty of parking, good value
Cons: Not in the city centre, interiors quite basic

Book at: Booking.com, Britannia Apartments, Leith

6. Apex Grassmarket Hotel

City centre hotel

— Best for Harry Potter fans

A double room with a balcony at the Apex Grassmarket Hotel in Edinburgh

Key info: Family room from £165 | Number of rooms 169| Swimming pool yes | Dogs welcome Assistance dogs only | Parking yes, £15 per day | Waverley Station 0.5 miles | Grassmarket area can be noisy at night

Nearby attractions: Some rooms at the Apex have castle views, as Edinburgh Castle is less than 10 minutes’ walk away. Greyfriars Kirkyard (with the statue of Greyfriars Bobby) is a 5-minute walk, and the National Museum of Scotland is a 10-minute walk.

For little Harry Potter fans, Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is the only place to stay. JK Rowling wrote most of the series in the city, and it doesn’t take long for visitors to the area to work out where the idea for Diagon Alley came from.

Victoria Street, sitting at one corner of Grassmarket, curves up steeply towards the Royal Mile and among its colourful mix of boutiques and restaurants are more than a few Harry Potter shops. In the other direction towards the National Museum of Scotland, little witches and wizards can hunt Greyfriars Kirkyard for Tom Riddle’s grave (which actually belongs to unsuspecting Edinburgh resident of yore Thomas Riddell).

Rooms in the hotel are more stylish than you might expect for this price, and the on-site restaurant has a good-quality kids’ menu. The pool and gym aren’t huge, but with so many other attractions on the doorstep they’re unlikely to be the focus of your stay. One guest said the Grassmarket area is noisy but added, “I would absolutely trade the noise for our view. We stayed in a family room with a phenomenal view of the castle.”

Pros: Lots of facilities, Harry Potter connections, some rooms have great views
Cons: Parking costs extra, bustling location may bother light sleepers

Available from: Booking.com and Apex Grassmarket Hotel

7. Fraser Suites, St Giles Street

City hotel/apartments

— Best boutique hotel

A large double room at Fraser Suites in Edinburgh

Key info: 1-bedroom apartment from £120, extra bed required for second child (£15 per night) so email reservations to request | Number of suites 75 | Swimming pool no | Dogs welcome Can be welcome if agreed in advance | Parking no | Waverley Station 0.2 miles | Lift only goes to 6 of the 7 floors

Nearby attractions: Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura World of Illusions, The Real Mary King’s Close and other sights and attractions of the Royal Mile are a 5-minute walk away. Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens are also a 5-minute walk.

The Fraser Suites are housed in a Victorian townhouse in Edinburgh’s Old Town, but inside they’re contemporary and beautifully decorated. There’s also a restaurant and gym on-site. Suites come with a kitchenette and coffee machine, and the 1-bedroom apartment is roomy by city centre standards, with fabulous views over Princes Street.

This is elegant accommodation; think big windows, heavy drapes and sumptuous furnishings – everything you’d expect from a boutique hotel. One mum who stayed said, “We had a 1-bed apartment so had a little kitchenette which was great as we had our 1-year-old with us. It included cutlery, plates, microwave to heat his food, space to prep etc, and a separate room for when he was asleep.”

Pros: Great location, spacious accommodation for the city centre, good facilities
Cons: Life doesn’t go to the top floor, no parking facilities

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and Fraser Suites

8. The Dunstane Houses, West Coates

Guesthouse

— Best small hotel

A large double room with a sofa at The Dunstane Houses, West Coates

Key info: Executive room (sleeps 4) from £305 | Number of rooms 35 | Swimming pool no | Dogs welcome yes, £30 per stay | Parking yes, free | Haymarket Station 500 metres | Haymarket is a transport hub with trains, trams and buses into the city centre

Nearby attractions: Edinburgh Zoo is 1.5 miles away and Murrayfield Stadium is 0.5 miles away.

The Dunstane Houses are actually 2 small hotels on opposite sides of the road in this quieter area of Edinburgh’s West End. Although it’s a more residential part of town, it’s handier for Edinburgh Zoo – Scotland’s biggest at 82 acres and home to the UK’s only giant pandas.

Being out of the city centre, The Dunstane’s rooms are a bit more spacious, and they’re beautifully presented, some with stylish touches like a freestanding rolltop bath. It also means there are small gardens for children and dogs to play in while parents sneak a drink at the outdoor bar.

There’s also a restaurant and indoor bar, and while there’s no specific kids’ menu, one guest said, “They were flexible with the menu, and we could ask for specific things for the children.”

Pros: Free parking, outdoor space to play, stylish interiors
Cons: Not in the city centre, quite expensive

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and The Dunstane Houses

9. Radisson Blu Edinburgh City Centre

Contemporary hotel and spa

— Best for the Royal Mile

A large hotel room with two double beds

Key info: Junior suite from £235 | Number of rooms 238 | Swimming pool yes | Dogs welcome no | Parking yes, £15 per day | Waverley Station 300 metres | A bit quieter than other parts of the city centre

Nearby attractions: The Palace of Holyroodhouse (the Royals’ official residence in Scotland) is a 10-minute walk, as is Dynamic Earth science museum and planetarium. Holyrood Park (for Arthur’s Seat) is a 10 to 15-minute walk.

The Radisson Blu sits a bit further down the Royal Mile, on a stretch of the historic street that’s quieter than the ‘castle and kitsch’ end. That said, it’s still just a short stroll up to these attractions and what this hotel offers is easier access to the Holyrood area for exploring the palace and park.

There’s a pool, sauna, steam room and gym on-site, as well as bar and restaurant. For parties of 5 they do a family room with a king, 2 twins and a sofa bed. One guest praised the clean and spacious rooms, adding, “The facilities were excellent too – we enjoyed the swimming pool as well as the breakfast. The pancake-making machine was definitely a hit with our boys!”

Pros: Great facilities, good location, spacious accommodation
Cons: Parking costs extra, more expensive than other chain hotels

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and Radisson Blu Edinburgh City Centre

10. The Rutland Hotel & Apartments

Boutique hotel and serviced apartments

— Best for self-catering

A two bed apartment at The Rutland Hotel & Apartments

Key info: 2-bedroom apartment from £250 | Number of apartments 9 | Swimming pool no | Dogs welcome yes| Parking no, but 50% discount for guests at NCP Castle Terrace | Haymarket Station 0.6 miles, Waverley Station 0.7 miles | Some apartments have private gardens

Nearby attractions: Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens are a couple of minutes’ walk from The Rutland. Edinburgh Castle is a 15-minute walk.

For travellers craving a bit more space or the freedom to feed themselves, an apartment in The Rutland is a great choice. But at the head of Princes Street, you’re still very much in the mix for shops and restaurants. The 2-bedroom apartments come with full kitchen, plus ample living and dining space. They’re all unique too – no bland decor or beige finishes here. For an extra at-home touch, there are also board games for the kids.

One guest praised the colour and character of the apartment they stayed in with their 2 kids, saying, “We were blown away by how nice the apartment was. It was sheer luxury.” And because it’s part of a boutique hotel, there are also a couple of eating options on-site (kids’ menu available at The Huxley), plus a gin emporium. Just saying.

Pros: Great location, cool interiors, thoughtful extra touches, dishwasher in apartments
Cons: Have to park off-site

Book at: Booking.com, Expedia and The Rutland Hotel & Apartments

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How we tested

When selecting these hotels, we looked at location, price and facilities on offer to families travelling with young children. Edinburgh is a historic city so we aimed to include as many hotels and lodgings in characterful buildings as possible so that families can soak up the atmosphere without compromising on comfort or convenience.

Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews and feedback from other trusted sites to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of hotels, guesthouses and apartments, each of which we believe is best for different reasons. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.

About the author

Sarah Reid is a journalist and mum of 2, which means she spends a lot of time asking and answering questions. She is editor of Quids in!, which is a money skills magazine aimed at people on low incomes. She’s based in Scotland and loves the excitement of taking her daughters to hotels, even though they fight over beds and who gets to use the key card.

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