Quality of Accommodation in Edinburgh

Guidelines for choosing Edinburgh accommodation

VisitScotland, formerly known as the Scottish Tourist Board, is responsible for regularly assessing standards in Edinburgh across a wide range of tourist establishments including hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation, self-catering accommodation, visitor attractions, hostels and holiday parks.

VisitScotland has produced an impartial 5-level grading system that rates the standard of customer care and the range of facilities on offer. This makes it far easier to choose a guest house or bed and breakfast as the grading system is based on consistent criteria.

The higher the number of stars, the more you should expect to pay for accommodation per night. The 5 star grading scheme can be interpreted as follows:

  • 1 Star Accommodation - Acceptable
  • 2 Star Accommodation - Good
  • 3 Star Accommodation - Very Good
  • 4 Star Accommodation - Excellent
  • 5 Star Accommodation - Exceptional

There is also a Gold Award which can be awarded to serviced accommodation (hotels and bed & breakfast establishments) which "consistently achieve the highest levels of excellence within their VisitScotland star grading".

The grading is based on various criteria including the standard of the welcome and the level of the service and hospitality, as well as the presentation and standard of the toilets, shop and cafe (if applicable).

All accommodation rated by the Scottish Tourist Board displays this sign outside their front door, with the appropriate accommodation type and number of stars clearly visible. You can easily spot it from the road and the number of stars is guaranteed to reflect the quality of the place.

The types of accommodation which are covered by the VisitScotland quality assurance scheme include:

  • Guest House - these have at least four letting bedrooms, and may have en-suite facilities. A guest house will provide breakfast and sometimes evening meals.
  • B&B - this type of accommodation offers bed and breakfast, often in a private house, and usually accommodates no more than six guests.
  • Hotel - these normally provide at least 20 letting bedrooms, most en-suite, serving breakfast, dinner and often lunch. They usually have a drinks licence.
  • Small Hotel - these normally have at least six letting bedrooms, most with en-suite facilities, serving breakfast, dinner and often lunch. They usually have a drinks licence.
  • International Resort Hotel - these have to have a minimum of 5-stars and in addition they offer a range of leisure and sporting activities such as a swimming pool or golf course.
  • Town House Hotel - these are high quality city-centre hotels with a high level of service. Dinner may not be available and public areas may be limited but room service is usually an option.
  • Metro Hotel - this is a town/city hotel providing full hotel services except dinner.
  • Budget Hotel - these are always part of a large chain of hotels and offer clean and comfortable accommodation with en-suite facilities.
  • Inn - this is accommodation within a traditional pub or inn.
  • Restaurant with Rooms - these have a restaurant as their main part of the business but also provide guest accommodation, often with breakfast.
  • Guest Accommodation - this is similar to a Guest House but can vary in services and facilities.
  • Self-Catering - this is accommodation with self-catering facilities, often let for blocks of one week although they may be let for shorter periods.
  • Hostel - this is accommodation which is often in shared rooms with bunk beds.

These categories are also reflected in their rating sign.

Notes about the accommodation scheme

  • The scheme assesses all types of accommodation, from guest houses and bed & breakfast establishments to hotels, self catering apartments, hostels and camping parks, as well as visitor attractions such as castles and museums.
  • Choose Edinburgh accommodation that bears the 5 Star Scheme sign to be sure of its quality. From what I could see, most guest houses and hotels have 3 or 4 stars but you occasionally see the odd 1 or 2 star accommodation.
  • If an accommodation in Edinburgh is not rated by VisitScotland it doesn't necessarily mean it does not provide the level of quality and comfort you need. As a matter or precaution, though, only choose an unrated accommodation if recommended to you by family or friends.
  • Some accommodation is self-rated rather than accredited by VisitScotland and while they usually makes this clear on their official websites, it is not always so apparent on the third party booking sites, so if you are in any doubt you may wish to cross-check back to the official VisitScotland website.

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