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Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh - Waterfront 3.0

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

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Review Summary

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  • In quaint Leith, opposite the Ocean Terminal and Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Several buses stop right outside the hotel
  • Clean, contemporary rooms with flat-screen TVs, AC, and electric kettles
  • Bar with drinks and snacks menu, plus vending machines
  • Free buffet breakfast with hot and cold fare
  • Free Wi-Fi, and free (limited) outdoor parking
  • Pets allowed free of charge (prior notice required)
  • Small meeting room with audiovisual equipment


  • Not within walking distance of central Edinburgh
  • Some rooms are on the small size
  • Rooms lack mini-fridges and safes, and have limited storage space
  • No restaurant or fitness center on-site

Bottom Line

The 145-room Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh - Waterfront is a contemporary, mid-range hotel located in the waterfront area of Leith, a picturesque neighborhood about a 15-minute drive from central Edinburgh. Rooms were fully refurbished in 2016 and feature contemporary decor and up-to-date amenities, such as bedside USB ports, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, movable laptop desks, and free, reliable Wi-Fi. A free, adequate breakfast buffet with hot options is served daily in a large, light-filled space off the reception, but no other meals are available on-site. Both the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Ocean Terminal are right across the street from the hotel, but travelers wanting to explore the city center may want to compare rates at sister property Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh - Royal Mile

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Busy chain hotel with contemporary interiors and a casual vibe

The hotel’s bland exterior and somewhat out-of-the-way location do not make for a great first impression. However, this Holiday Inn Express is more stylish and contemporary inside than some of its sister properties in the city center. Common spaces are limited here -- with just a breakfast room that doubles as the bar during the day, and a small reception area with a few chairs and a TV -- but they were all fully renovated in January 2018 and look fresh and appealing. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the breakfast room sunny, while contemporary blond-wood furniture with gray, blue, and red accents gives the space an updated, streamlined feel. 

The hotel’s location outside of the city center means most guests are out during the day, and the property is generally quiet until the evening. Guests were overwhelmingly business travelers during our visit, but we also saw quite a few older couples drawn by Leith’s quieter vibe and the hotel’s proximity to the Royal Yacht Britannia and Ocean Terminal Shopping Center. 

Rates are right for the area, but travelers more interested in visiting the city center than Leith can find a wide array of hotels in this price range both in the Old Town and the New Town. Ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile is a similar option within walking distance of all major attractions, but the standard rate does not include breakfast. Novotel Edinburgh Centre has more stylish rooms, an indoor pool, and a small fitness center with a sauna and steam room. Travelers on a tighter budget wanting to stay in the Leith area may want to consider the Premier Inn Edinburgh Leith Waterfront Hotel


In Leith, across the street from the Royal Yacht Britannia

This Holiday Inn Express is located on a somewhat desolate block on the edge of Leith, a charming residential area north of Edinburgh. The neighborhood is known for its many quaint restaurants and cafes overlooking the waterways, most of which are within a 10-minute walk of the hotel. The property is right across the street from the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre, home to dozens of shops and restaurants, and about a five-minute walk from the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former yacht of the British royals and the area’s only major attraction. Though this location may not look like the most attractive option for a visit to Edinburgh, the hotel is half a block from a number of bus stops that connect Leith to the heart of the city center and the airport. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the Royal Mile and Princes Street by bus from the hotel, and about 35 minutes to Edinburgh Castle. The airport is about a half-hour drive from the Holiday Inn Express. The hotel has a small outdoor parking lot that guests can use free of charge.


Contemporary rooms with solid up-to-date amenities and clean bathrooms

The hotel has 145 rooms spread over five floors. All rooms were renovated in 2016 and are decorated in a simple, contemporary style, featuring a gray palette with eye-catching pops of red, and streamlined wooden furniture with minimalist lines. Comfortable beds are topped with plush duvets, four pillows, and gray-and-red bed runners that stand out against the white linens and textured navy accent walls. Our corner room had expansive views of the area, from the harbor to the Ocean Terminal and the residential buildings around, but units facing northwest have average street views. While some Standard Rooms are on the small side, clean lines and open closets with hanging racks and shelves instead of drawers create some visual space.

Rooms are outfitted with a number of thoughtful touches, including bedside USB ports, blackout curtains, free, reliable Wi-Fi, and movable laptop desks that can be used both in bed and while sitting on a comfortable armchair. Additionally, all rooms feature electric kettles stocked with free tea and coffee, and wall-mounted flat-screen TVs with international channels. Air-conditioning is provided in all rooms, but rooms lack mini-fridges and safes. Each Family Room has a sofa bed that can sleep up to two kids under 12. 

Bathrooms have walk-in showers, hairdryers, and small corner sinks with some counter space. Pale-gray tiles and plastic tissue dispensers are a tad dated, but wooden shelves, contemporary rectangular sinks, and teal backsplashes add some style. Liquid hand soap and two-in-one shower gel and shampoo are provided in big wall-mounted containers.  


Free breakfast buffet, spacious bar, and a small meeting room 

A free, adequate breakfast is served daily in the bar area off the lobby. The spread includes continental options such as croissants (though not as buttery as promised on the signs displayed throughout), fruit, cereal, yogurt, and porridge, as well as a few hot options, including scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, and beans. The breakfast room is busy but spacious, and there is generally enough space for all guests, even at peak times. The adjacent bar has a good drink menu, with beer, wine, liquors, and a few hot drinks. Pizza is served throughout the day as well, but there is no full restaurant on-site. 

The meeting room features air-conditioning and audiovisual equipment, and it's big enough to fit in up to 35 guests. Cats and dogs are allowed free of charge, but guests are required to notify the hotel in advance. There are no fitness or wellness facilities on-site. Wi-Fi is free and accessible throughout the property.

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Britannia Way, Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, United Kingdom

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