Edinburgh has been established as a tourist destination for centuries, and so there is a huge choice of accommodation available for travelers.
If you're planning a visit during festival time (August), around Christmas and New Year, or on the weekend of a Scotland home game in the 6-nations Rugby (Mar/Apr, 2 or 3 matches per year), then you will find that all types of accommodation get booked up well in advance, and a premium may be applied to the room-rate. It's not impossible to get somewhere to stay at short notice at these times, but you won't be able to be fussy and it will probably be expensive.
For those on a budget, there are cheap youth hostels available with prices from £10 and above. The private/independent hostels center around the Cowgate area, the lower Royal Mile and its side streets. The hostels of the HI affiliated Scottish Youth Hostel Association www.syha.org.uk can be booked on-line and are an especially good deal during summer, when the SYHA rents student accommodation as summer hostels: Single rooms in the city center for a very modest price.
There are Guest Houses and small hotels dotted around almost every part of the city, however there are high concentrations in 2 areas, namely around Newington Road and Minto Street on the South side, and on Pilrig Street and Newhaven Road in Leith. Both areas are within a brisk 15-20 minute walk of the city centre and both have excellent round-the-clock bus services. If arriving in town without having booked accomodation, it may be worth heading for one or other of these areas and looking out for the "Vacancies" signs, though probably not during the festival or around Hogmanay.
Some of the Guest Houses and even hotels can be booked for as little as the hostels at certain times of year, while more upmarket accommodation ranges from boutique B&B's, with just a few rooms, lovingly run by a family, to world-renowned large 5-star hotels.
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