My tips on where to stay what to do and places to eat in the Scottish Capital.
Experience the splendour of Edinburgh’s 18th century New Town, at the elegant 4-star Nira Caledonia. This boutique property is found within two adjacent neo-classical Georgian townhouse mansions in Stockbridge.
General Manager Chris Lynch and his team immediately make you feel welcome and at home. Guest rooms have been recently renovated and feature classic décor, characterful period features, thoughtful touches like espresso coffee & fine gourmet teas, as well as contemporary comforts like luxury bathrooms with L’Occitane amenities.
Edinburgh author and literary critic, John Wilson, who wrote under the pseudonym Christopher North in Edinburgh’s famous 19th century ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’, lived in this house, and has inspired the name of the hotel’s Blackwood’s Bar & Grill.
Open to non-residents it has quite the reputation for locally sourced Scottish meat and produce, cooked over a genuine charcoal grill. The Chateaubriand is a must-try.
Scotland’s Personal Hotels
The Nira Caledonia is a member of Scotland’s Personal Hotels, a curated collection of Scottish properties focusing on independent hotels that offer an authentic taste of Scotland, from Highland castles; country manor houses; old lodges; to city townhouses.
The Edinburgh Grand
I think this must be one of the finest addresses to call home whilst in the city.
Living up to its moniker; The Edinburgh Grand is an impressive landmark building on St Andrew Square, in the west end. This Grade A-listed former National bank of Scotland building has been sensitively restored and reimagined by local firm Lateral City as the ultimate in high-end self-contained, contemporary holiday apartments.
The 50 luxury residences include Grand Studios for single travellers; one and two beds; right up to the spectacular 3-bed Penthouse with 360 panoramic views of Edinburgh.
From the moment you enter the classic entrance lobby and look up through the central atrium you know you’ve arrived at somewhere very special.
Old Town Chambers
Edinburgh’s medieval old Town is centred upon the ancient and evocative Royal Mile that runs from the city’s imposing castle down to the Royal Palace of Hollyrood. It’s on this extraordinary street that one finds the unique Old Town Chambers serviced apartments. Whether you rent a studio, family apartment, townhouse or a penthouse, you can be sure that each will have period features and contemporary styling.
The Ivy on the Square
Unlike some restaurant chains, each Ivy retains an authentic style and character. Edinburgh’s Ivy on the Square is no exception. General Manager Eric Garnier has made this one of the city’s flagship restaurants; with a superb cocktail bar. If you skip the tempting Grilled Whole Lobster or Scottish prime beef, you can enjoy a sophisticated 2 course lunchtime menu for as little as £16.50. The restaurant also offers Breakfast, Brunch, traditional Afternoon Tea, and of course a la carte dinners.
This classic seafood and grill restaurant & cocktail bar is within the old banking hall of The Edinburgh Grand.
Twenty Princes Street
As the name implies, this destination restaurant is on Princes Street, the main thoroughfare through the city – it is a real surprise.
The classic décor, with leather upholstered banquettes, marble & wooden tables and gilt detailing, is impressive. The triple height bay windows offer views out cross old town and the castle.
Many of the dishes are prepared on a Josper Grill, giving the meats and seafood a distinctive, rich and smoky flavour. Kick things off with a Juniper Cocktail, made with Edinburgh Elderflower gin, kiwi and apple. Starters include Scottish oysters, and West Coast scallops as well as the house signature dish of Buccleuch Black Pudding and Haggis French Toast – sounds strange but it’s so indulgent and tasty.
As well as main dishes of grilled meats, fish and a vegetarian option, Twenty Princes Street also promises one of the best Sunday lunches in town.
The Register Club
This relaxed bar & lounge in The Edinburgh Grand with restored wood-panelled walls, and smart leather club seating includes a games room – making for a relaxed yet hip place to meet in the city.
Celebrating 10 years on the Edinburgh Restaurant scene, Paul Wedgewood’s award-winning restaurant has a menu that changes with the seasons and evolves daily based on availability of local produce as well as foraged foods and herbs.
Intimate coffee shop & espresso bar in Old Town, in a restored historic shop at the bottom of the famous Cockburn Street. Authentic and friendly.
Autumn/ Winter Festivals
Edinburgh is of course well-known for its summer International Festival and the Festival Fringe, yet autumn and winter is a great time to experience a less crowded atmosphere of the Scottish capital. Expect seasonal markets, street food and events that lead up to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.
VisitScotland.com & EdinburghFestivalCity.com
Edinburgh Cocktail Week
A week of cocktail fun, from 15th to 21st October, including sampling events, parties and masterclasses
Scottish International Storytelling Festival
Running in Old Town and at venues across the city, from 19th to 31st October, this event is an interesting way to welcome autumn and Halloween.
Craft Beer Experience
This festival from 15th-17th November is a celebration of craft beers, including 13 craft breweries from Edinburgh and beyond.
The Hidden Edinburgh
For a real insider’s perspective of Edinburgh, check out the recommendations of locals on The Hidden Edinburgh, the city’s award-winning blog.