Having stayed just a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh my whole life, it’s easily one of my favourite cities in the UK to visit and with good reason too – it’s absolutely drop dead gorgeous. With it’s gothic glamour, rolling hills and rich history it is truly a travellers delight, and I’m not even talking during the Fringe! Filled to the brim of things to do, sights to see and experiences to be had, Edinburgh has got to be on your travel list and here’s how I do it, when staying at the Principal George Hotel.
What to do
If you find London a bit hectic, Edinburgh is definitely the capital city for you. Smaller, peaceful, and on a much more manageable scale with most landmarks being a short walk or an affordable bus journey away. Whether you choose to visit the Castle, one of the many Art Galleries or Exhibitions or just walk the historical streets, Edinburgh’s fascinating history is inescapable. I mean, the castle is a given, right? Just behind the Castle there’s good ol’ Arthur’s Seat. You can reach the peak after around 45 minutes walk giving the ultimate views of the city.
If – like me – you are into anything spooky, the legendary ghost tours take you to the deep underground city via the lost labyrinth of Mary King’s Close. Frozen in time, these 16th century narrow walkways and streets were built upon and buried in the name of creating a more ‘developed’ Edinburgh, closing the streets out once the plague set in. Fun factiod? It was also where I had my first date with my fella, so hand holding is encouraged but not forced!
If normal tourism ain’t your bag, peer behind the Edinburgh’s tourist façade and you’ll find loads of hidden gems and unusual quirks ready to be stumbled upon. Although you are always guaranteed to find bagpipers and kilt shops along the way, Edinburgh is a modern and innovative city that celebrates its cosmopolitan vibe, with culture everywhere you go.
Whether choosing fresh ice cream in the summer or a filthy hot chocolate in the winter Mary’s Milk Bar in the Grassmarket is a must. Often found by the que led out the door for her homemade gelato, Mary’s ever changing menu guaranteed to tickle every taste bud with combinations such as Milk Chocolate and Lavender to Spiced Pumpkin and Pistachio. To taste is to believe.
If you are not heading next door to the Principal Hotels very own Printing Press, there are literally hundreds of culinary delights to experience while in Edinburgh. If you’re visiting for a special occasion, or if you just want to make one, The Witchery is a must. The sumptuous, gothic décor and incredible food make it a real treat, looking right up to Edinburgh Castle, it has style atmosphere in abundance.
If you want something Scottish, Scran and Scallie is a local favourite and has a relaxed, gastropub atmosphere. Owned by the Michelin-starred Tom Kitchin (you might recognise him from Masterchef fame), it’s rustic menu choice is perfect for someone wanting to sample local cuisine.
Lastly, we need to taco ‘bout El Cartel. Don’t be fooled by the Mexican assumption of bottomless nachos and jalapenos, El Cartel brings a tasty array of slow roasted meats, seafood and vegetarian options jam packed with flavour. The guacamole with feta cheese and pomegranate seeds served is delivered with a side of plantain chips, and if you don’t order a second and/or third portion I’ll be forced to judge you.
As you could imagine, Edinburgh is filled with an amazing mix of bars and pubs that cater to all tastes and tipples. From old school man pubs to cool bars with bespoke cocktails, Edinburgh certainly does not disappoint in it’s range of great places to drink!
Soaked in history, The Devil’s Advocate is one of Edinburgh’s best little pubs that every visitor should enjoy once… twice… or more! Centrally located mystically within the walls of Edinburgh’s steep stairways by The Royal Mile, The Devil’s Advocate pride themselves on hosting some of the best mixologists in the city.
Panda & Sons is arguably the most famed of hidden cocktail gems in Edinburgh. Disguising itself as a barber shop as you walk through the bookcase (!!!) into a cool, prohibition style bar, Panda & Sons is all style with added substance. From craft beers to carefully concocted cocktails, once you find your way in you may never want to leave.
If you have still not had your fill of gourmet cocktails, Lucky Liquor Co on Queen Street is sure to sort you out. With its retro decor and killer concoctions, the bar man will for sure keep you on your toes – albeit a bit wobbly!
Edinburgh is oh so lucky to still have a plethora of amazing independant shops in running order. From fantastic vintage from the legendary Armstrongs or Those Were the Days vintage, to shopping some of Edinburgh’s incredible independent design at Godiva Boutique, you better get ready for some serious retail therapy during your stay in Edinburgh. Whether you are a high street honey or all about that high end design, Scotland’s capitol will never let you down.
No matter where you go or what you do, let the magic of Edinburgh capture your heart, I may even see you there!
Article originally posted for Principal Hotels Insiders Guide.