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The Howard Hotel

When we thought about visiting Edinburgh we had a very clear idea about how our accommodation should be: cosy, traditional and it had to involve tartan somehow. Because as much as we love design, when we travel we want to soak up the local vibes, traditions and hospitality. Whether it is an ancient palace in the Algarve coast or a renovated old building in Madrid, we love hotels that give you a sense of place.

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And we found The Howard, a luxury boutique hotel located in Edinburgh’s New Town. It’s classic, elegant and remarkably traditional. However, the atmosphere is absolutely relaxed and the service is genuinely kind. You can say that staying at The Howard is like visiting your dear great aunt’s house: you feel welcome, you want to curl up with a nice book under a blanket, wear soft socks and nibble some biscuits, but the atmosphere feels so special and different from your own house… because probably your great aunt has only cashmere blankets and serves biscuits imported from Holland. Homey but luxurious.

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Entering the premises – three beautiful Georgian townhouses-, you are transported to a quiet, extremely cosy and private world. The entrance sets the ambience: a discreet dark green door that opens to a wonderful carpeted hall with an impressive staircase. From here, everything seems out of a novel: rich fabrics, beautiful classic furniture and butlers that will bring to your room complementary tea or coffee any time of the day (with deliciously buttery biscuits), unpack your suitcase, prepare a bath for you with incredible Penhaligon’s bath oils and take care of anything you might need.

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Every morning breakfast is served in the beautiful dining room that at night hosts the most romantic dinners of The Atholl, the hotel’s restaurant. But let’s focus on breakfast, our favourite meal of the day: a wonderful menu where you can choose full Scottish breakfasts, warm pastries or light plates of fruit among other things. With jazz playing smoothly in the background, that beautiful Georgian atmosphere, surprisingly good coffee and even better cheese your day can’t have a better start.


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The rooms at The Howard reflect that cosy yet luxurious ambiance as well. With only 19 rooms named after Edinbugh streets you can be sure that your experience will be particular and different from other guests. Waking up to the rich decor, the textured fabrics and lovely, symmetrical views (the New Town streets are paradise for any OCD personality!) is a comfortive and restorative feeling. We couldn’t help but wondering if we were on the set of a historical period drama. And we loved it. Even more when every night we would come back to our room, carefully turned down, and would enjoy a lovely cup of camomile tea and a couple of those addictive biscuits.

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But the jewel of the hotel is the beautiful drawing room where a discreet purple, green and beige tartan was the cherry on top of our Scottish extravaganza. The perfect place for a rainy afternoon with  a nice drink and a good book by the fireplace or a delightful afternoon tea, which we enjoyed and which deserves a post on its own.  Sit in one of those armchairs and stress will immediately disappear.

The Howard is not the new hippest hotel in town. There are plenty of them. The Howard is a traditional hotel with excelent service and a pleasingly calm atmosphere that offers a unique experience. Because, as you would expect from your great aunt’s home, you will leave reluctantly knowing that the camomile tea with biscuits after a long day, the newspaper left in your room every morning, the opulent fabrics and the thoughtful attention to detail might be old fashioned these days, but it’s exactly what you will miss at home. Like the cashmere blanket.


  1. Lee Ann says

    Thank you! Just the post I need to start my notes for a Scotland trip. Finding a home base makes a trip memorable. We landed at a small gem in Florence this summer … not the fanciest, newest place, but the minimal staff made us welcome every time we came in from exploring: “Can I bring you a glass of wine?” “What did you do today?” Truly interested in making our stay special. And at the very top of a hidden staircase was a teeny, tiny rooftop terrace, with two little tables (just large enough to hold coffee or wine and a book). The terrace overlooked a hidden, and now silent, bell tower. We ended every day there with our travel journals and a glass of prosecco. Bliss.

    • This hotel really made a difference in our trip! Waking up in such a wonderful place puts you in the best mood for the day and makes you happy to come back at night!
      That place in Florence sounds wonderful, can you give us the name? We’ve never been to Florence and it would be nice to have some tips in case we visit!

  2. Sono stata tanti anni ad Edimburgo e ho un ricordo bruttissimo del mio hotel!!!! Questo invece è’ molto carino .ciao ciao

    • Absolutely! That’s why we always choose our accommodation carefully! We can’t recommend this hotel enough and if you are planning a trip in SUmmer, maybe during the Theater festival, this hotel will help you to avoid the crwods. It has a central location it’s but is away from the biggest tourist attractions. Just perfect to enjoy the local vibe!

    • It was wonderful! Classic, yes, but so cosy and the service was outstanding. Besides, the afternoon tea was out of this world (post coming soon!)

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