Luxury Travel Guide to Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland. Immerse yourself in dramatic and moody landscapes made up of volcanic peaks, rolling hills and the temperamental Atlantic sea. Explore the immaculately-preserved UNESCO Heritage Old Town, nearby magnificent castles and historic architecture and cobbled streets you can lose yourself in.
Edinburgh is a cultural hub, known for its thriving arts, music and literary scene. It holds the well-deserved title of UNESCO city of literature, being the birthplace of countless famous historic and modern writers and poets as well as hosting annual world-famous literature, arts and music festivals.
Edinburgh is a fascinating and beautiful destination with something to offer for everyone including nature lovers, foodies, history buffs and culture lovers. The city hosts a mixture of classic and medieval architecture, cobbled streets, numerous alleyways which lead to hidden gems whose allure will keep you wandering the streets for hours.
There is no question as to why Edinburgh is one of the UK’s top travel destinations. There’s plenty to see and do and there are numerous festivals for arts and culture hosted throughout the year for added entertainment.
For those with an unlimited budget, the sky is the limit. Edinburgh has everything you are looking for from Michelin fine dining to adventure experiences and designer shopping until you drop!
This guide is perfect for those who are travelling to Edinburgh on a luxury. We will show you what to do in Edinburgh, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether it’s a weekend in Edinburgh or a long term stay. Here is our luxury travel guide to Edinburgh:
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The best time to visit Edinburgh
Scotland is famed for its temperamental weather, frequent showers and harsh, cold winters. The most popular time to visit Edinburgh is usually in the summer months, between June and August where there are more sunny days, despite occasional showers.
It’s always worth bringing a rainproof jacket and layers to keep warm on the cooler evenings.
With the summertime and better weather come the tourists, flocking to the city to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and International Festivals and this is the high season, with considerably bigger crowds and higher prices.
If you prefer fewer crowds, visit Edinburgh between October and March . If you want to experience the magic of Burn’s Night festivities accompanied with drams of whisky and Robert Burns’ favourite dish, haggis, you can visit in January.
Luxury things to do in
Visit the Queen’s residence, The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official Scottish residence for the Queen of England and was once the palace where Mary Queen of Scots once lived.
If you want to experience the palace without the crowds, book the exclusive evening tour with a complimentary glass of champagne is led by an experienced guide who will tell you of the tales and legends of the magnificent Baroque palace.
Evening palace tours take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 18:30 – 20:30 that only costs £40 per person.
Visit the designer shops in Edinburgh’s high streets, such as Princes Street and George Street, you can have a highly personalised shopping experience at Harvey Nichols or Jenners with the guidance of a personal shopper for an additional cost.
A visit to the beautiful cobbled streets and shops of the West End will give you access to the best kept secrets of Edinburgh’s culinary and fashion scene. Here you will find unique treasures in independent boutiques.
If you fancy having your very own kilt, head to Thistle Street to 21st Century Kilts to pick up a bespoke and fashionable kilt, with designs for men and women. The tailor Howie Nicholsby has dressed celebrities such as Richard Branson and Lenny Kravitz in his designer kilts!
A night on the town
Visit the thriving nightlife scene of Edinburgh and hit some of the coolest bars and clubs. Bramble is rated as one of the top 20 bars in the industry by Bartender Magazine and you can sip on some signature creations in their shabby chic lounge.
If you prefer to dance the night away you can book VIP entry and a table package at Lulu, a luxe club and bar with Swarovski crystals embedded in the wall, the epitome of extravagance!
VIP entry will provide you with a private area for you and your friends, your very own bar staff and the very best spirits served to your table.
Head to a festival
Edinburgh plays host to a multitude of festivals that are internationally recognised. The most famous festival is the Edinburgh Fringe which began in 1947 and is a cultural event hosted annually in August, which boasts 25 days of festivals with over 55,000 shows including comedy, drama, performance art and more and takes place over 317 venues in the city.
Also in August you can attend the famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a spectacle that takes place on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, a grand display organised by the British Armed Forces complete with fireworks.
There is also a Jazz and Blues festival which takes place in July and the Edinburgh Arts Festival which runs from July to August.
Learn to cook with a Michelin Chef
Cook School is a cookery school offering private classes by the Michelin star chef, Martin Wishart which includes a masterclass, tour of his restaurant behind the scenes and a full three-course menu lunch.
The basic three-course lunch package costs £65 per person, whilst the five-course gourmet package is £85 per person.
Have a spa day
Edinburgh has some amazing spas such as One Spa which has outdoor rooftop hydro pools where you can soak in the views of the city, hammam, bio saunas, laconium and tepidarium as well as relaxing massage and beauty treatments available.
Alternatively, Zen Lifestyle and Pure Spa are both noteworthy award-winning spas and most of the top hotels have their own in-house spa which can give you the five-star treatment and help you relax and disconnect.
Take to the skies
Rise high up over the city in a hot air balloon and take in the beautiful green landscapes of the rolling hills around the city. Virgin offers balloon flights with champagne seven days a week.
Indulge in some fine Scottish whisky
The most exclusive luxury private dining experience in Edinburgh is organised within the vaults of The Scotch Whisky Experience.
This establishment offers the opportunity to hire the vault for a night to enjoy a gourmet dinner with only 10 attendees under the gentle golden glow of light filtering through a wall of 4,000 bottles of Scotch.
Hire the Queen’s Royal Yacht Britannia for an evening
The Queen’s Royal Yacht Britannia is moored in Leith, just 10 minutes by car from the city centre.
You can actually rent the yacht privately and experience the same royal red carpet treatment and fine ding that the Queen and famous and esteemed guests have enjoyed such as Nelson Mandela and Frank Sinatra.
The experience includes a guided tour of the yacht, a gourmet dinner to the music of the pianist in the dining hall.
Take a stroll down the Royal Mile
You can’t visit Edinburgh without visiting one of its biggest tourist attractions, the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a series of streets through the Old Town that leads from Edinburgh Castle gates to the Palace gates and measures one mile in length!
This street has been the setting for thousands of historic events, celebrations and is something you cannot miss in Edinburgh, despite being a little touristy!
Where to stay in Edinburgh – Luxury Hotels
Dalhousie Castle Hotel Edinburgh
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like royalty you can spend a night in Dalhousie Castle, a 700 year old medieval fortress which once was the seat of the Ramsay Clan of Scotland and has hosted the likes of Sir Walter Scott, Queen Victoria, King Edward the first and Oliver Cromwell.
The hotel has only 35 bedrooms with regal four-poster beds and has an Aqueous Spa with Turkish steam bath, Roman sauna and massage and beauty treatments, a dining hall in its dungeon, it also boasts a resident ghost… naturally. It is situated a little bit outside of the city centre in the midst of 11 acres of land on the on the shore of the River Esk.
Scotsman Hotel (our favourite!)
Built in what was once the offices for the Scotsman newspaper, this luxury hotel dates back to 1905 and is an notable Scottish establishment. It has a fantastic location, situated just two minutes away on foot from Waverley train station and just a short stroll from Edinburgh Castle.
Rooms are decorated in a historic style but are fitted with all the modern mod cons, if you request a room make sure to book one overlooking Edinburgh Castle or the Firth of Forth. Curiously, it is said to be haunted by ghosts, like many historic buildings in Scotland, of which include a forger and a printer.
The Witchery by the Castle Edinburgh
Hailed by the Times, Condé Nast Traveller and the Telegraph as one of the most glamourous hotels in Edinburgh, The Witchery offers extravagant suites furnished in a gothic style, plush velvet walls and opulent décor as well as a four-poster bed fit for a queen.
The five-star treatment begins with a complimentary bottle of champagne and a warm welcome when you arrive, a daily breakfast hamper delivered to your room so you can have an indulgent breakfast in bed, alternatively you can dine in the excellent restaurant belonging to the hotel.
Built in a Victorian railway station, this grand hotel is located in the heart of Edinburgh and boasts excellent facilities including two Galvin Brothers restaurants, a Guerlain spa with sauna, swimming pool, steam room and tartan-clad doormen flanking the majestic doorway!
The décor is sumptuous and sophisticated and with all the modern facilities. There is an excellent French bistro and French restaurant in the hotel as well as a bar.
The Balmoral is an institution in Edinburgh and was originally built in the Victorian era as a railway hotel, situated just two minutes on foot from the Waverly train station. Set in a magnificent listed building, The Balmoral has long been a landmark in Edinburgh, being centrally located and within walking distance of the main streets of the city.
The rooms are complete with marble bathrooms and a contemporary inspired interior. There is also a spa with indoor pool, sauna, gym, steam rooms and massage and beauty treatments, an elegant French-style brasserie, tea room and two bars on-site.
Luxury eats in Edinburgh
Edinburgh boasts 9 Michelin starred restaurants and a wealth of gourmet cuisine within the historic city. Here is a list of the very best restaurants where you can savour the flavours and cuisine. Remember to reserve in advance!
One of the best and most renowned Michelin restaurants in Edinburgh is Kitchin at Leith Harbour, run by Tom & Michaela Kitchin who serve up “farm to plate” dishes using seasonal Scottish ingredients to create contemporary French-inspired cuisine.
Dishes include seasonal seafood such as mullet in salsa verde and citrus, melt-in-the mouth lamb dishes and other locally sourced meats.
Run by the Michelin star awarded chef, Paul Kitching, 21212 offers a five-course tasting menu that is contemporary and adventurous.
The restaurant is located in a historic listed building just ten minutes from Waverley train station and is open for lunch and dinner with two-course lunch menu that is a steal at £20 and a five-course set menu priced at £60 per person.
The menu features freshly-caught seabass, crab and haddock as well as delicious meats such as smoked duck or guinea fowl.
Number One is situated in The Balmoral Hotel and is led by Michelin starred chef Mark Donald and features Scotland’s best and freshest produce including Blairgowrie beef, Borders roe venison and locally-caught fresh seafood and crab served up in delicious contemporary fusion dishes which will introduce you to the very best that Scotland has to offer in fine-dining.
The tasting menu costs £65 a head with an additional £50 for wine pairing and the a la carte three-course menu costs £59 per person.
This restaurant is where celebrities gather to see and be seen and celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jack Nicholson have enjoyed a meal within its gothic walls. The dining hall resembles a hall in Hogwarts and attracts many tourists.
The head chef is James Thomson and the restaurant offers up fine dining with fresh local produce and incredible meats such as Caringorm venison served with modern accompaniments. There is a reasonably priced lunch menu at £25 per person and main courses on the a la carte menu range from £19 – 34 per dish. They also serve a sophisticated afternoon tea!
Take a break from your wanders and relax at this beautiful restaurant with views of Edinburgh Castle that offers daily afternoon tea which you can indulge in including delicate sandwiches, freshly-baked scones to smother in jam and clotted cream and lots of small sweet delights at only £28 per person accompanied with tea or £40 with Moët Impérial Champagne.
Afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Enjoy a cup of tea within the grand walls of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a historic listed building that still has a station clock which dates back to 1890. The spread includes delicious finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries and costs £35 per person served with tea or £45 with Perrier Jouët Champagne or a signature Waldorf Astoria cocktail.
Luxury tours to do in Edinburgh
Explore castles on a private tour
This full day tour will take you to visit four of the most famous castles near Edinburgh including three which have featured as backdrops for famous TV series such as Linlithgow, Drummond and Duone Castle, appearing in “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander” (you’ll find quite a few separate Outlander tours from Edinburgh if you’re a dedicated fan!)
Visit the seats of Scottish royalty and learn about the fascinating history of Scotland and it’s aristocrats with an experienced guide on a private tour.
Glenkinchie Scotch Whisky Tasting and Tour
Want to know everything about the distillery process of making highly-acclaimed Scottish whisky? This is the tour for you!
You will be whisked away in a Luxury Mercedes to visit the Glenkinchie Distillery where you can taste four different whiskies and explore their unique collection.
Secret food tour through Edinburgh
Explore the streets of Edinburgh and discover hidden culinary gems with an experienced foodie guide to discover where the locals go to enjoy the flavours of authentic Scottish cuisine such as haggis, salmon and whisky.
The tour will take you on a wander through the streets of Edinburgh and the local guide will share stories of the rich and evolving culinary culture of Scotland both past and present. Finally, you will get to taste a secret Scottish recipe that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Recommend luxury tours in Edinburgh
- Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Trip from Edinburgh
- 3-Day Isle of Skye and Scottish Highlands Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh
- Mary Queen of Scots Private Sightseeing Excursion with Luxury Chauffeur
- 3-Hour Private Edinburgh Castle Tour
- Scottish whisky and castles tour – private tour
- Private Central Highlands driving tour
- Private One Day Highlands Tour of Scotland
- 60 Minute Private Vacation Photography Session with Photographer in Edinburgh
- Outlander Film Locations tour of Castle Leoch, Fort William and Inverness
- Loch Ness Luxury Private Sightseeing Excursion with Chauffeur
- JK Rowling’s Edinburgh, a 3-Hour Walking Tour Inspired by Harry Potter
- Highland whisky tour – Half day