Boutique hostels are on the rise. When I was travelling through Europe and then Australia, I came across a few hostels that were as nice (if not nicer) than some of the hotels I’ve paid good money to stay in, with the likes of Barcelona’s Jam Hostel and Brisbane’s BUNK offering stylish, shared accommodation. Before those trips, it had never crossed my mind to find out if there were boutique hostels back home in Scotland, but when I decided to spend a few days in Edinburgh at the end of last year, it seemed like the perfect time to do some research.
Super-stylish and within steps of Princes Street, The Baxter proves that hostelling has greatly evolved from its dirty, uncomfortable stereotype…and that decent accommodation in Edinburgh doesn’t need to break the bank…
The Baxter Hostel, Edinburgh: Location
The Baxter Hostel could win awards for location alone. Stepping out of Edinburgh Waverley Station, the hostel is a five-minute walk, if even that. Turn right onto Princes Street, pass the famous Balmoral Hotel and cross at the lights in front of the National Archives of Scotland.
To your left is the short West Register Street, where you’ll spot the Guildford Arms at the top. Look for a doorway to the left of the pub with several signs, climb to the second floor and…you’ve arrived at The Baxter.
lessons in hostel design
The Baxter’s website likens the hostel’s origin story to a “fairytale” – but there’s certainly nothing make-believe about the finished result. Created by two Scots brothers, The Baxter was carefully designed to showcase the beautiful Georgian features of the building it occupies, at the same time as offering guests a stylish take on the Scottish-heritage theme.
Despite the heavy use of tartan wallpaper, there’s nothing tacky about the interior design. From the gorgeous herringbone oak floors to the custom kitchen – complete with a blue cooking-range, chandelier and Belfast sink – you can tell the moment you step inside that every inch of The Baxter was painstakingly considered.
Dorms at The Baxter
Inside The Baxter Hostel’s six dorm rooms, the quirky heritage style continued. I was staying in a nine-bed dorm, with three triple-bunkbeds. Although small, the space had been well thought out. Each blue-sheeted bed had a cubby-hole on the wall, individual power points and a reading light. A unique portrait (see the image above!) hung above the original-looking fireplace, with industrial-style lockers in the corner.
Facilities at The Baxter Hostel
It’s clear that the owners have tried to do as much as possible with the room they had available, but there’s no denying that The Baxter’s limited space has impacted on their facilities.
The shared bathroom, whilst beautifully designed (and kept immaculately clean for the entirety of my stay) is far too small for the number of beds. With just four showers (one of which was out of order while I was there) and two toilets, it’s easy to imagine it being impossibly busy if the hostel was at its full capacity of roughly 40 guests.
Small bathroom aside, The Baxter’s well-equipped kitchen is the hostel’s star facility. You’ll find everything you need to cook a delicious dinner on that beautiful blue cooking range, as well as free tea, coffee, milk and condiments. The kitchen/common area has plenty of power points for plugging in, and this is where the free WiFi is at its fastest. In the corner, there’s a small, snug area with comfy cushions to relax and watch the people go by on the street outside.
The hostel also lacks any laundry facilities (probably due, again, to its compact size) but for any longterm travellers looking to do their washing, there are several laundrettes in the city centre that can be reached by bus. For those looking to rent forgotten essentials, towels, locks and hairdryers can all be borrowed from reception, and if you’re struggling to sleep, the staff are happy to provide earplugs.
The Baxter Breakfast
An incredibly nice benefit of staying at The Baxter is the free breakfast. On the day I arrived, I was far too early to check in but hoped that The Baxter would let me store my bag so I could head out and explore. Not only did they say that they would happily keep my things, they also wanted to know if I would like some breakfast whilst I was there. It might be a fairly simple breakfast (scrambled eggs, toast, cereal, coffee and orange juice) but it was a lovely way to start each morning before wandering off around Edinburgh!
The Baxter Hotel’s great central location means that many of the city’s main attractions are within easy walking distance. Princes Street Garden is just across the road and Calton Hill (where you really should go to catch at least one sunrise!) is a ten-minute walk away. Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile and Grassmarket can be reached in less than 20 minutes on foot.
The Baxter Hostel, Edinburgh: Need to Know
Address: 5/2 West Register St, Edinburgh, EH2 2AA
Rooms: 4 – 9-bed dorm rooms, with female-only + en-suite available
Price + Booking: Bunks from £14 per person, per night via Booking.com
Best for: Style-seekers looking for a city centre location on a budget.
Have you stayed at The Baxter Hostel, Edinburgh? What did you think? Or maybe you’ve stayed at another boutique hostel you would recommend? I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment below!
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***No part of this stay was comped by the hostel – I paid the same as you would, booking through Booking.com. However, this post does contain affiliate links, which don’t cost you anything extra but help (in a teeny, tiny way) towards the running cost of this blog***