This hotel marked the European debut for the Virgin Hotels brand when it opened in June 2022, and was followed by a Glasgow property in August 2023.
Virgin Hotels is also set to open properties in Miami and Denver in 2025, as well as launching Virgin Residences.
Note that Virgin Red and Virgin Hotels’ The Know members can link their profiles to directly earn Virgin Points when booking a stay at one of the hotels.
I also downloaded Virgin Hotels’ app, Lucy, during my stay which enables you to control room features, as well as request services such as late check-out.
Where is it?
In Edinburgh’s Old Town within the city’s landmark India Buildings on Victoria Street, with an additional entrance on Cowgate via all-day dining space Eve.
Transport options include the Edinburgh tram stop at Princes Street, which takes you to the airport, or a 15-minute walk uphill via North Bridge and the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Waverley station.
What's it like?
While the bright red Virgin branding at the doorway stands out on the bend of Victoria Street, the remainder of the facade of India Buildings remains untouched, so it does not jar with the rest of the city’s architectural style. The hotel has been designed by Virgin Hotels in collaboration with Scottish design and architecture studios ICA Studio, Four-by-Two and Joelle Reid Interiors.
The higgledy piggledy layout of the hotel reflects the maze-like city itself, with various wooden-panelled corridors, staircases and passageways taking you to different parts of the property. While it can be a little confusing, I found it characterful and in keeping with the neighbourhood.
As the hotel is on a slope, there are two banks of lifts in different areas of the building which take you to different floors, and staff let you know which is best for your room at check-in.
As you enter from Victoria Street (which is regarded as Level 6) a majestic red-carpeted staircase leads to the Oculus area on the eighth floor – a beautiful light-filled dome with the original glass cupola and a plush seating space – while a sharp right instead takes you to the reception area, Commons Bar, the brand’s Funny Library and hallway to the other section of the building.
It was very busy when I arrived and the reception doesn’t fare that well for this as it’s also a passageway to various other areas of the building, so queues would get in the way, but staff in tartan trousers with tablets can also help. Check-in is from 3pm, with fun playing card-inspired keycards, and checkout at 12pm – though you can request a late checkout via the Lucy app.
Further notable spaces include the roof terrace on the seventh floor which overlooks Edinburgh’s rooftops and Edinburgh Castle, and the colourful Funny Library on the sixth floor which is filled with books and knick knacks.
The 222 rooms (or ‘chambers’) start from 24 sqm – recommended are Castle View – and occupy ten floors. Behind townhouse-like red doors are stylish rooms with soaring ceilings, wooden panelling and jazzy touches.
My Grand Chamber room (28 sqm) was open-plan and included a plush vanity area sandwiched between the toilet and rain fall shower behind frosted glass, an open wardrobe with a safe, and a sink area in the main space.
A curtain can be drawn to separate the sleeping zone, with a soft and comfy king-size bed built into a sofa, with built-in plug sockets so you can work at the table and charge your devices at the same time. There’s also a 50-inch flatscreen TV with streaming capabilities.
It’s very on brand for Virgin, with a mini red SMEG fridge filled with local products, a rotary telephone and a welcome message from the hotel in red lipstick on the mirror. On the eco side, there are large glass bottles of filtered water and local large-sized toiletries by Arran Sense of Scotland.
Food and drink
Let’s start with the highlight: the Commons Club Bar on the sixth floor, clad in wood panels with shelves of colourful cocktailware (including a ladder for the spirits up top) and a buzzy atmosphere – even on a Tuesday night. I sat at the stylish bar and received excellent recommendations from the bartenders, who managed to keep up conversations while theatrically mixing signature drinks.
Eve, named after Richard Branson’s late mother, is a colourful, casual all-day dining spot on the first floor with a menu focused on small plates. It’s worth checking the events calendar, however, as this doubles as a venue and might not be suitable on certain nights – a pub quiz took place during my dinner, with music booming from the speakers as I dug into my hake with roasted daal and raita (£13.50).
Breakfast is also served here daily 7am-11am, and guests can either order hot food from a menu or indulge in a small buffet table laid out in the centre of the room (£17).
For a quieter and more refined Scottish dining experience, head to Commons Club restaurant in the basement on the Victoria Street side of the hotel.
There are four meeting and event spaces, including the impressive 198 sqm Greyfriars – a former medieval church with vaulted ceilings – which can host up to 150 people.
There’s a 24-hour gym on the third floor with Technogym equipment. Rooms also include yoga mats.
Virgin Hotels Edinburgh is ideally located in the city centre with quirky design, nods to the neighbourhood, lively public spaces and comfortable rooms for work and play.
- Best for: A comfortable city centre stay with a lively atmosphere
- Don’t miss: The tequila-based Green Leaf cocktail at Commons Bar
- Price: Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in January start from £270 for a Grand Chamber room (£230 entry level)
- Contact: 1 India Buildings, Victoria Street, Edinburgh EH1 2EX; 0131 526 4810; virginhotels.com