48 hours in… Eye-catching Edinburgh
Travel columnist Julia Hanley-Gordon heads north of the border to the jewel of Scotland
The UK has many exciting cities to visit but there is one that really stands out, Edinburgh (sorry London).
From the Old to New town and all the way to trendy Leith, Edinburgh has it all on offer. Beautiful views, scenery and history everywhere you look, you can make a trip to this city anything you want it to be – educational, party time or a family jaunt.
Kampai Sushi, 8-10 Grindlay St, EH3 9AS
Easily the best Sushi in Edinburgh. This Japanese restaurant has the freshest fish served in the traditional way. I often go with friends and colleagues and besides the phenomenal sushi we also always order the grilled aubergine and Teppan Sirloin. It’s worth booking a table as this intimate restaurant fills up fast.
Leith Chop House, 102 Constitution St, EH6 6AW
In the painfully cool area of Leith, it’s only right that they have a good steak house and Leith Chop House fits that bill. The staff are super friendly and helpful, the steaks are cooked to perfection and the drinks are excellent. They serve one of the best Bloody Marys in Scotland!
The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Quay, EH6 6LX
Right on the water in Leith is Michelin star restaurant The Kitchin. Run by the famous Tom Kitchin, this restaurant serves traditional Scottish food with a modern twist. This place isn’t cheap but it’s worth every penny as the food and experience is the best around. If you are looking to get fine dining at a more affordable price they do a set lunch that will knock your socks off.
The Hanging Bat, 133 Lothian Rd, EH3 9AB
Just off the main drag you can find the best beer list in Edinburgh (sorry Brewdog). Knowledgeable staff will let you taste the plentiful international beers to figure out which one is best for you. My favourite was the unusual by delicious Sour Sout. They also serve some good old fashion junk food that certainly hits the spot after a few fancy beers.
The Dome, 14 George Street, EH2 2PF
Going to The Dome for drinks ticks off boxes for tourists and having a drink. This stunning old bank has been turned into a restaurant and bar in a unique setting. This place is lovely all year but if you do visit at Christmas, it’s the sort of place that would make Scrooge sing carols.
Bryant & Mack Private Detectives, 87-89 Rose Street North Lane, EH2 3DX
This speakeasy style cocktail lounge is a lot of fun and even better if you can book a table. The entrance is ‘hidden’ off Rose Street and once you are in, the cosy atmosphere and amazing cocktail list keeps you there. The Private Detective theme runs throughout without making it corny or silly.
Sneaky Pete’s, 73 Cowgate, EH1 1JW
This tiny club has big fun. Loads of live music, sweaty dancing, good drinks and nice bartenders. It’s worth seeing what’s on but even if you don’t know the band, it’s often cheap or free to go see live music so it’s always worth a stop in.
The Cabaret Voltaire, 36-38 Blair St, EH1 1QR
At Cab Vol (as the locals say), you can go for gigs or club nights. The venue is split into two levels, the top being the bar and the bottom the club. It’s an old vault from the 1700’s so it has a really cool unique look. Some tables have old arcade games in them and there is just a general cool vibe about the whole place.
Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market St, EH1 1DF
This gallery focuses on contemporary art with a focus on high profile Scottish artists. There are usually group shows so there’s a lot to see without it feeling overwhelmed.
Stills Gallery, 23 Cockburn St, EH1 1BP
Unsurprising from the name, Stills Gallery has a focus on photography. This space is part gallery, part production facility, so there is a nice buzz to it. The photographic art usually has a focus on modern, film work and/or political poignant statements.
Where to stay
Mercure Haymarket, 38 Gardner's Cres, EH3 8DQ
This budget hotel is basic but new. Just slightly out of the city centre but a nice 12 minute walk in with loads of restaurants and bars along the way. On average this hotel is one of the best prices you will find based on the quality of the rooms. It’s worth extra for breakfast too as there is a good selection and they even serve haggis.
Principal Charlotte Square, 38 Charlotte Square, EH2 4HQ
If you are looking for a city centre hotel with ‘wow factor’ look no further than the Principal on Charlotte Square. This hotel has been recently refurbished and it makes you wonder if the designers from the Soho House group did the work as it’s classic yet super cool. The rooms are stylish and comfortable, there is a spa and gym that’s as good as any health club if not better and the bar makes you feel like you are on a movie set.
Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, EH1 2NG
You cannot come to Edinburgh and not visit the castle. On a clear day you can see the whole city and the gorgeous views of the Highlands. It’s always fun to check out the Scottish Crown Jewels. It’s worth booking your tickets so you don’t have to queue. Afterwards, walk down the Royal Mile and check out all historical Closes (roads situated under the street from the 16th Century).
Mary King Close, High Street, 2 Warriston's Close, EH1 1PG
One of the most famous Closes is the Mary King Close. This tour goes into great detail of what it was like to live there from the 16th-19th centuries. To sum it up, it was very grim, but it gives you deep insight on what it was like during those times. Each room goes into detail of who lived there and what they did for a living and also what happened during the Plague.
Blackfriars Bobby, 30-34, Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QE
Maybe one of the cutest animal tales in Scotland, the story goes that after a police officer died, his loyal dog slept on his grave every day. The shops around fed and took care of the dog. The pub right in front of the grave yard has a statue of the dear little dog; touch his nose for good luck and grab a drink!