A&O Edinburgh Review: The Perfect Hostel For A Budget City Break
This post is in partnership with A&O Edinburgh and Traverse Events.
Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, and what’s even better is that it can be explored on a budget.
Speaking of Edinburgh on a budget, A&O Edinburgh is the perfect hostel for a city break on a budget – it’s centrally located, has absolutely everything you need and you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort for budget. Whether you’re looking to explore the sights and sounds of Edinburgh or just take a break from your travels, here’s why I think A&O Edinburgh is definitely worth checking out!
The idea of a&o Hostels was founded in 2000 by Oliver Winter, who currently operates 39 hostels across nine European countries with the goal to create an inexpensive place for backpackers and youth groups. A&O combines the most important and guest-oriented elements of hotels and youth hostels all under one roof. They’re inexpensive and centrally located, making them the perfect place for backpackers, youth groups, and families
Locations include: Berlin, Dortmund, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Graz, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Prague, Vienna, Aachen, Weimar, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Stuttgart and Munich.
Depending on the type of room you’re looking for, A&O have a wide variety of options. This includes:
They also have female-only rooms, ideal for those who prefer to stay in separate dorms. I regularly book a female-only room, so it’s nice to know when a hostel has them! If you’re booking for a family, you can also ask about their family-friendly rooms. These have both a double bed and bunk bed, making them ideal for those visiting the city with kids!
Price and Affordability
A&O Edinburgh is an incredibly affordable city-centre option, especially for the value you’re getting during your stay. Dorm rooms start from £16 a night and if you’re looking for something a little more private, rooms hit the £50-80 mark depending on the time of year or day of the week.
If you’re booking for 10 people or more, they even offer a discount!
Comfort On A Budget
When looking for a hostel, I always make sure I am booking somewhere I know I would be comfortable spending a couple of nights. As A&O has been recently refurbished, it was absolutely perfect.
The bathrooms were lush, the bedrooms were well decorated and everything was incredibly clean. With reduced cleaning services due to COVID-19, I still felt as though everything was well-sanitised throughout.
💡Tip: as you can see, the bathrooms can be a little small. If you’re in need of a bigger (or more accessible) bathroom, these are available if you speak to reception.
I feel like an honourable mention has to go out to the beds because oh my gosh, they were a dream. I have slept on some very uncomfy hostel beds before but at A&O, I slept like a baby. The mattress was firm (which I like) and the quilt was super thick (of course, it’s Scotland) and cosy. There was a small privacy partition at the top of the bed, which only added to the overall comfort.
If you’re enjoying your stay a little too much, you can pay £10 for late check-out. This gives you until 2 pm to leave, rather than the standard 10 am (11 am on weekends).
Everything You Need
Another thing I like to make sure a room has is USB chargers, as it can be difficult fighting for ‘plug space’ in a shared room. Every A&O bed not only had their own USB plug above the pillow but also a little night light which definitely came in handy. You’re also provided with a towel (although slightly on the small side for me) and if you need any extra toiletries, the reception desk sells shampoo and conditioner for 50p each. Each room also has a hairdryer, so no rushing down to reception with wet hair to ask for one when you realise you’ve forgotten yours!
Under each bed, there was a lockable storage area, big enough for a carry-on suitcase and a couple of other bits if needed.
The WiFi was also free and I had no issues with it during my stay! Hostel WiFi can be a little temperamental but I was able to use it on both my phone and laptop with ease! Bonus for those that like to work on the go, like me!
A&O Edinburgh Common Areas
When you walk into reception, there’s a small common area to chill out in. There’s a couple of chairs, tables and some drinks machines so if you’re looking for a space to work away from your room, it’s definitely a nice quiet spot to sit for a couple of hours.
There’s also a guest kitchen if you wanted to cook your own meals during your stay! This is located downstairs in Bar Fifty and has everything you need to whip up your own affordable meals.
When it comes to the bar, A&O definitely understood the assignment. Bar Fifty is located on the bottom floor of the hostel and is open until late. With delicious cocktail pictures, 50/50 shots and a jam-packed weekly line-up of events, it’s the perfect place to spend your evenings in Edinburgh. For the solo traveller, it’s also the best place to meet like-minded travellers. Everyone is super friendly and whether you’re dancing until the early hours or playing pool on a lazy afternoon, you’re bound to meet a bunch of new people to chat to!
💡 Tip: order the ‘Purple Venom’ cocktail if you’re a lover of Southern Comfort and fruit punch.
Drinks are incredibly affordable and if you’re a guest at A&O Edinburgh, you get an extra 15% off.
From 12 pm until 10 pm, Bar Fifty also serves food. Not only are the options super affordable (hello £4.50 chilli nachos) but they are also DELICIOUS. We ate there a number of times and it’s some of the best bar food I’ve ever had! I honestly can’t stop thinking about the cheese dog.
In the morning Bar Fifty is also home to the A&O breakfast. If you’d like to book breakfast during your stay, speak to reception and they’ll be able to sort it for you.
The ‘Can’t Get Better Than This’ Location
One of the best things about A&O Edinburgh was its location, as it was so close to well, everything! All of the things we wanted to do were within walking distance, meaning we didn’t have to spend any money on transportation during our trip! It made the perfect base for a trip to Edinburgh and on several occasions throughout the weekend, we popped back to our room to freshen up, drop off bags or grab a drink!
To give you an idea, here are just a few of the spots that were nearby:
Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Edinburgh. This historical site was built in the 12th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle has been used as a fortress, palace, prison, and military barracks over the years, and today it is open to the public for tours.
👣 12-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
Another must-see attraction in Edinburgh is the Royal Mile. just a few seconds from A&O Edinburgh. This street runs between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, and it’s home to some of the city’s most famous historical sites and attractions. Along the Royal Mile, you’ll find The Scottish Parliament Building, The National Gallery of Scotland, and many other interesting places to explore.
👣 4-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. This palace was originally built in the 16th century, and it’s now open to the public for tours. You can also visit The Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace, which features exhibits from the Royal Collection.
👣 12-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
If you’re looking for some shopping opportunities, then head over to Princes Street. This street is home to a variety of high-end stores, as well as the Edinburgh International Shopping Centre. You can also find some great restaurants and pubs along Princes Street. We passed this street many times and it’s certainly a lively place!
👣 14-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
If you’re looking for something to do in the evening, Edinburgh has a great nightlife scene. There are plenty of pubs and clubs where you can enjoy a drink or dance the night away. The city also has a number of theatres and performance venues, so there’s always something interesting happening on stage. Cowgate and Grassmarket are great areas for this, just a few seconds walk from the hostel.
👣 2-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
Victoria Street is a great place to go shopping, with a wide range of stores to choose from. With lots of charming shops and cafes, it’s the perfect place to spend some time exploring. Did you know, it’s also the most photographed street in Scotland? No wonder, when it looks this stunning!
👣 10-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
If you want to see the spooky side of Edinburgh, Greyfriars Kirkyard is the place to go. This graveyard is said to be haunted by the ghost of a Mackenzie Poltergeist, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Edinburgh for those looking for a bit of excitement. It’s also home to Bobby the dog!
👣 7-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
The Scott Monument is another popular tourist attraction in Edinburgh. This monument was built in memory of Sir Walter Scott, and it’s the largest monument to a literary figure in the world.
👣 11-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
The National Museum of Scotland is one of the most popular museums in Edinburgh, and it’s free to enter! It features exhibits from a variety of different fields, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
👣 5-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
There are also plenty of parks and green spaces in Edinburgh where you can relax and enjoy the fresh air. Princes Street Gardens, however, are the most popular. This park is right in the heart of the city and it’s a great place to people watch, have a picnic, or just take a break from sightseeing. It also has the BEST views of the castle.
👣 11-minute walk from A&O Edingburgh Hostel
Address: 50 Blackfriars St, Edinburgh EH1 1NE
Free Edinburgh Tours and Discounted Activities
If you’re looking to cut your costs during your stay, A&O Edinburgh also offers a free city walking tour every single day. The tour meets in reception at 10:40 am and it visits sights such as Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, St Gile’s Cathedral and the National Museum. It lasts around 2.5 hours which gives you plenty of time to explore the city on foot!
Similarly, if you’re staying at A&O Edingburgh you can also benefit from discounts on other attractions in the city, including ghost tours!
A&O Edinburgh Staff
Finally, I don’t think this review would be complete without mentioning the staff. Throughout our whole stay they were absolutely incredible! Nothing was too much of an ask and every time we passed through reception, they made sure to chat to us about our plans and what we’d been up to. We felt super welcome and it honestly made the stay feel extra special!
So, If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Edinburgh on a budget, A&O Edinburgh is definitely the perfect option. It’s centrally located so you can easily walk to all of the main attractions, and it has everything you need – from comfortable rooms, an energetic bar and free WiFi. So what are you waiting for? Book your stay here!