Outside the Cowgate Hostel at Dusk

The Cowgate Hostel in Edinburgh Scotland Review

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When searching for a place to stay in Edinburgh Scotland our goal was to find a cheap place in a great location that would be close enough to walk to from the Train Station. After looking on Booking.com, Hostelworld.com and AirBnb, I settled on the Cowgate Hostel in Edinburgh. Booking.com won this round!

Reviews are always subjective. I mean, if you are traveling as a group of wendyintheworld.com/edinburgh-scotland-gothic-visual-paradisedudes in your early 2o’s and traveling around the world for a few months you will be looking for something different than a family of 4 would be. You might be searching for a place near the pubs and clubs where you can meet girls and have a hostel that has a loose curfew or quiet times.

When I read the description of the property the first thing I saw was that a tattoo parlor was just a short skip, jump and a hop away. Makes me think that this Hostel was definitely trying to appeal to a specific clientele.

The Location was listed as great and the Hostel had about a 7 out of 10  overall. We were looking for 4 beds, close to everything in walking distance including a train station, showers, toilets and access to a kitchen that was safe as well.

Upon arrival it was only 9am. The earliest we could check in that day was 1pm – which was 1hr earlier than their listed 2pm time. They offered to let us lock up all our stuff and wander the city until they could get us in our room. The community room is super small but there were huge cubbies with long metal cords and locks to string your luggage and belongings through safely.  Find out what we did during this 4hr period.

We paid £177.12 ($225 USD) for 4 nights and 3 days at the Cowgate Hostel. We paid £20 for our key deposit (which you get back upon check out) and took the special password and WiFi code and headed out the lobby door, to the right and around the corner into a little alley way.

Cowgate Hostel Apartment Codes
Cowgate Hostel Apartment Codes

We only got 2 pictures of the entire Hostel so here you go:

Our 3rd Floor Walk Up.
Our 3rd Floor Walk Up.
My Top Bunk at Cowgate. I took the top because there was WAY more head room than the bottom bunks.
My Top Bunk at Cowgate. I took the top because there was WAY more head room than the bottom bunks.

I like tying all of my crap to the bars on the top bunks so I don’t have to constantly keep hopping up and down. The bars are always super uncomfortable on my poor delicate feet. So that’s all the junk you see behind Shawn.

To get in the building you must have a passcode. Then you walk up to your floor where there are at least 2 doors to enter. We entered ours with the ‘outdoor’ key which opens to a small entry way room. There are 4 doors. The far left is locked for the building maintenance. The second on the left is our Apartment Room. The 3rd are the 2 showers for our Floor that are shared and then one Toilet. The 4th door is our entrance to the Kitchen and table. It was a big room and we could cook and hang out there easily. There were plates, cups, silverware and even some cookware and most importantly, an electric water kettle.

Through the kitchen on the other side, was the entrance to the landing room of 2 more rooms for other guests and their single toilet.

We all picked our beds and set to work relaxing and settling in. We had a great big room that had a large window looking out to the alley below. There was a furnace you can turn on when the lights are on – I think that’s how it turned on at least.

Our beds were average but very squeaky. There were enough outlets for all of us to use with our universal converters. We hung out and rested for several hours and then hit the town for dinner.

The Cowgate is in a weird location only in the sense that it’s actually below the city.  You have to turn down a long winding road that was J.K.Rowlings inspiration for Diagon Alley or up some side streets.

Shawn took this picture, isn't it cool? This is a winding and diagonal looking street. BTW, the best beans and cheese nachos are up around the curve on the right. Go get some!
Shawn took this picture, isn’t it cool? This is a winding and diagonal looking street. BTW, the best beans and cheese nachos are up around the curve on the right. Go get some!

If you head out the Lobby Door and to the Right, you will come upon a great little square filled with awesome pubs and little restaurants. We had Pizza our first night and it was excellent.

That night, while trying to sleep, the city came ALIVE. It was super loud outside until around 1am. There was beating music and lots of screaming and laughing from people walking the streets. We honestly didn’t mind though.

The WiFi was good and we were able to all use headphones and watch Netflix and fall fast asleep.

The next day some guys from Australia checked into the rooms across the floor. They were very nice and friendly and were there for a concert just for the evening.

They left and just a few hours later came home totally trashed. I think, from what I overheard, one of them puked in their bathroom so they kept using ours. They were in the kitchen drinking more and being loud and laughing.

Sam went in at one point to get some leftovers from the fridge and came back in saying that they had a bunch of bottles empty all over the kitchen and the guys weren’t in their any longer. So we must’ve been able to hear them all the way from their rooms.

The next morning Shawn told me, giggling, that he went into the kitchen to make some coffee and 2 of the guys were in there passed out. He woke them up and they had no idea that they had drank so much to sleep in the kitchen. They all had a good chuckle and then cleaned up their mess.

We usually hung around around our Cowgate Hostel rooms midday for a break and then for bedtime. We were too busy exploring the gorgeous city.

If you head here make sure to do as much as possible by foot. There are too many sights and sounds and foods to miss if you are traveling by bus, Taxi or car.

This place is not the kind of hostel where you go to meet other travelers. You hole up in your room or perhaps wait in your shared Kitchen to meet others perhaps but their Lobby isn’t really set up for hanging out.

Cowgate Hostel was PERFECT for my family of 4. We felt safe, it was in a great location and we weren’t there very much. We had use of a kitchen to eat our leftovers and make our coffee and tea each day for free.

There are NO perks like free breakfast or social times or stuff like that but we did use the Laundry Service for a fee. We turned it in on our 1st day there (I can’t remember the cost) and it was ready 2 mornings later. We gave them only one load but it was returned to us folded with nothing lost. They don’t do it themselves but hire it out.

The front desk clerks were friendly but nothing really stood out about them or their service. We did lock ourselves out at one point because we were only given 1 key. Maintenance came up right away to open the door but really, if we booked a dorm room then we should each get a key. We pay by the bed, not room, so it doesn’t make sense that there is only 1 key.

All in all we’d recommend Cowgate Hostel and would be willing to stay here again.


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