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High Street Hostel 2.0

Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • In the heart of the Old Town, walking distance to all major attractions
  • Clean, spacious dorms with windows, lockers, and blackout curtains
  • Power sockets, USB ports, and free linens for each bed
  • Big socializing areas, including a lounge with a piano
  • Weekly events include movie nights, pub crawls, and pool tournaments
  • Communal kitchen with free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate
  • Inexpensive continental breakfast available every morning
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout, and free bike and luggage storage
  • Same-day laundry service available for a fee

Cons

  • Fee for loaner towels
  • No elevator
  • Queues for showers in the morning
  • Some complaints of thin mattresses
  • Bathrooms lack counter space

Bottom Line

Popular among young backpackers, the adult-only High Street Hostel is a lively, basic property offering good value in the heart of Edinburgh. Rooms are clean and spacious, and range from private twin units to 18-bed dorms. Each bed is outfitted with a power socket, linens, and a USB port, and free Wi-Fi and lockers are available in all rooms. Two big lounges, a patio with picnic tables, and a communal kitchen provide ample space for socializing, and the hostel features a weekly event program that includes movie nights, pub crawls, and music shows. Breakfast is basic but cheap, and there is free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate throughout the day. Large groups wanting something less basic may want to compare rates at The Inn Place, which features private en-suite dorms with hotel-style amenities.

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Scene

Young, lively hostel with castle-inspired decor and a fun atmosphere

Housed in a 16th-century building right off the Royal Mile, the High Street Hostel blends history and fun from the get-go. The building is accessed via a narrow door in the turret, which in turn leads to small, steep steps that go up to a heavily ornamented lobby. Knight armors, swords, historic flags and banners, and Gothic arches tie in well with the ancient nature of the building, while large Chesterfield couches, exposed stone walls, and long-board wooden floors make the lobby cozy and inviting. Interspersed throughout are colorful flyers, posters, and brochures announcing music shows, day trips, and local businesses. The rest of the property is more generic: dorms are decorated in primary colors with purple accents, stairs are lined with linoleum, and bathrooms have older sinks. 

The vibe is friendly and laid-back, and there are plenty of opportunities to socialize. The hostel has an activities program full of fun things to do on-site and around town, and encourages guests to join. The busiest place during the morning is the downstairs lounge, which is adjacent to the communal kitchen where breakfast is served for a small fee. Backpackers in their twenties chat around big tables or tap away on their computers before heading out for the day. The hostel empties out around lunchtime, when most guests are out exploring the town, but the hubbub returns when the sun goes down. In the evening, the piano in the lobby draws artsy guests, while the small patio is a favorite when the weather is nice. The atmosphere is generally fun rather than rowdy, and the property does not accept bachelor or bachelorette (stag or hen) parties, which helps keep the noise down. 

The High Street Hostel offers a pretty standard hostel experience, with shared dorms and bathrooms, a young clientele, and communal areas that encourage meeting other travelers. However, rates are some of the lowest in the area, and the few extras there are (such as towels and breakfast) are inexpensive. Backpackers and solo travelers wanting a quieter, more comfortable stay may prefer the Code Hostel, which offers spotless pod-like dorms and pleasant shared bathrooms. The neighboring Safestay Edinburgh offers a similar experience, but all dorms have an en-suite bathroom.

Location

Central location within easy walking distance of all major attractions

The High Street Hostel is located on a small, cobblestone street right off the Royal Mile. This Old Town location is perfect for travelers wanting to explore the city’s sights, as most major attractions are just a short walk away. St Giles’ Cathedral and the National Museum of Scotland are each less than a five-minute walk away, and Edinburgh Castle, shopping along Princes Street, the Scottish National Gallery, and Calton Hill are all within 15 minutes of the hostel. Waverley Station (Edinburgh’s main public transportation hub) is also just an easy stroll away, as are the buses and trams connecting the city center and the airport. The drive to the airport takes about half an hour.  

Rooms

 Clean, comfortable dorms with lockers and common bathrooms  

High Street Hostel offers an array of room types, from private rooms with one bunk to large dorms with up to 18 beds. Each room is furnished with just the bare minimum -- namely beds and lockers -- and has large windows with blackout curtains and street views. Decor is basic and generic, with grayish carpets (being replaced with laminate floors in 2018), wooden bunks with purple bed linens, and yellow lockers. Walls are hung with color photos of country and urban scenes, but there are no other ornaments in the room. Everything is kept clean and well-maintained, but there is little storage space and rooms can look a little messy sometimes. 

Mattresses are thin, but only a small number of guests seem to find them uncomfortable, and all come with free linens. Free Wi-Fi is strong but more reliable in the morning than in the evening, and towels can be rented for a fee. Each bed is outfitted with power sockets and USB ports, though there aren’t reading lights or privacy curtains. 

Each floor has its own shared, unisex bathroom, complete with three toilets, three sinks, and three showers. They’re clean but a tad dated and lack counter space. On top of this, and given the size of some dorms, queues for showers and bathrooms are common in the morning. Dressing areas are separated from the showers with plastic curtains, and are outfitted with several hooks and a small caddy for toiletries. Hairdryers and liquid hand soap are provided in all bathrooms. 

This is an adult-only (18-plus) hostel, and bachelor and bachelorette parties or any other type of loud gathering are not allowed. There is a female-only dorm. 

Features

Ample lounges, communal kitchen, weekly events, and laundry service

The hotel has two lounges, a small one off the lobby, and a larger, livelier one downstairs. Both are pleasant and comfortable, with big couches, tables, and large windows overlooking the street. The smaller one has a wall piano that guests can play until late in the evening, while the larger one has a pool table and direct access to the communal kitchen. Guests can store and cook food in the kitchen, and a cheap breakfast of bread, juice, tea, coffee, and cereal is available daily until late in the morning. Free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are served 24/7. 

An events calendar is available weekly, and includes group activities both on-site and out in town, such as music shows, pub crawls, free walking tours, and pool tournaments. Same-day laundry service is available for a fee, and there is bike and luggage storage for guests leaving town for a few days. †

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Address

8 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh EH1 1NE, United Kingdom

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