Edinburgh is an absolutely stunning city, the long wide streets are reminiscent of the scale and design of the great Parisian Boulevards and every where you go the castle sits on its promontory keeping it’s careful watch over the merrymakers, tourists and residences.
We stayed in The Walton Guesthouse which was quiet and comfortable with a decent, clean room and excellent location for getting to the heart of the city with a nice home-cooked breakfast too. It is in the ‘new town’ so called as it was the redesign of the city in the 1700s when the ‘old town’ near the castle had become a rat infested slum. It was originally designed with three main streets and soon became so popular that it was extended and extended along the same lines, so as the city grew it remained on a New York style grid pattern in the ‘new town’. The old town has now been restored to it’s former glory in most parts and it is interesting to see the little closes (named after former important residents) which which are tucked into the side of streets, underneath flats or to the side of shops.
The castle is a must (though for goodness sake buy your tickets online in advance to save queueing, the queues were LONG), and we very much enjoyed the bus tour we did; though recommend the City Tour on the green buses as they are the only ones to have a real-life person giving the tour (in English) rather than a pre-recorded headset affair which operates on other routes. This is also practical as your ticket is valid for 24 hours from issue, so having validated ours at 15:30 on Saturday it was valid to the same time on Sunday.
In terms of eating and drinking; we sampled fare across the city – scone and tea in the castle tearooms was nice but not worth going the whole hog for a full cream. The setting was delightful but the scone rather dry which was disappointing and I think I counted about three currants in the whole thing. Great pit stop but would have been a disappointed lunch. We opted instead for a hog roast bap from the amusingly named ‘Oink‘ which operate both a shop and a stall at the nearby farmers market in the shadow of the castle on Saturday mornings from c 7:30am-lunchtime. It was a lovely market and we had a taste of some exceptional Scottish Tablet.
Saturday night we had a lovely dinner at the Scottish Malt Whiskey Society Dining room, this was a gem of a place, elegant relaxed surroundings with lovely food and great staff. We enjoyed the fixed set menu at £21.95 per person for a three course meal, which was exceptional value though the portions were not what I think might be referred to as ‘man sized’ and Chris needed a pizza on his way home from our bar crawl afterwards! But I would definitely go back there!!
We loved Bramble, tucked underneath the dry cleaners on the corner of Hanover and Queen Streets; we knew it was there and almost missed it! Fabulously relaxed, great service and wonderful cocktails with some chilled out hip hop beats – go there immediately!
We went from there onto Bon Vivant on Thistle Street which was much more bustling and full of those drinking after work and having dinner too as it is also a restaurant. Lovely cocktails there too though, but a bit more popular and ‘cool’.
From there we ended up in Milnes bar, which is a standard pub with cheesy music (just to my taste), we had a sing-a-long followed by dancing with some fellow tourists from Newcastle (well I did!), then onto the pizza takeaway and a lovely walk back to the Guesthouse in the moonlight, in the shadow of the castle which falls everywhere in Edinburgh.
Needless to say the next day we were in need of a little pick-me-up! And who came to our rescue but the amazing staff at gorgeous cafe/restaurant Urban Angel and they were angels indeed, food to die for and smoothies to put your swagger back into your step!
I went for the special which was salmon & cod fishcakes with buttered greens; my dream dinner:
Chris went for the classic post-night out delight; all day breakfast:
We ordered tea afterwards but the angels were rushed off their feet so forgot to bring us our tea, we asked for it go and when realising their mistake, they not only gave us tea for free but also a cake each (as it was closing time and they wouldn’t be sold). Such fabulous staff, comfortable surroundings we were really well looked after at Urban Angel and only wish we had one on a street near home because frankly we’d be in there every weekend! It was divine.
Amongst the sights my favourite was Holyrood Palace, going to the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots! It was very exciting and they have done a wonderful job at restoring her and Lord Darnley’s rooms in the Palace. We also took in the view from Calton Hill accessing this via Jacob’s ladder (big mistake, don’t do it unless you are fit)! The views were worth the climb, utterly amazing and you can take in all of the city, the castle and Holyrood Park. I can see why it was Rory Bremner’s Favourite View in ITV’s programme Britain’s Favourite View.
I must also mention our fantastic taxi service Travel and Transfers, I booked them online with a full quote and was then actually met by Iain whom I had been emailing. He was a brilliant guide when we first arrived in Edinburgh and took us around a few tourist spots (at no extra cost), he provided a perfect service and I could not recommend this company highly enough! They are quick, convenient and reliable; we couldn’t have asked for anymore.
All in all we had an utterly amazing weekend in Edinburgh and cannot wait to go back; there is so much more to see and do!