Principal visitor's guide: Edinburgh
Earlier in the year we introduced our Principal insiders, three bloggers who know their Principal cities inside out. Now we're sending them to each other's cities to see what they'd recommend as a visitor.
Though your trip to Edinburgh might start with a walk up to the castle along the Royal Mile, there is much more to the city than its iconic landmarks and kilt shops. Over the past couple of years, it seems Edinburgh has become a melting pot for independent stores, restaurants and the arts. The city is spoilt for choice when it comes to museums and galleries, with the City Art centre being the perfect place to start as it’s just around the corner from Waverley. But that’s just one example, time to find out why Edinburgh should be your next city for a weekend away.
I walked from Waverly station to The Principal Edinburgh George Street to check-in and then along George Street to Hyde and Son in less than 30 minutes - train to coffee in half an hour is good going in my books! Hyde and Son are relatively new to the city of Edinburgh and makes you feel more than relaxed. Pastel greens and pinks along with some very carefully selected furniture makes this a great place to start your trip.
From there you could head towards the Old Town and get a feel for the classic Georgian buildings that make up Edinburgh, before visiting a new development called The Quarter Mile. I ended up in Swedish bakery Söderberg and would highly recommend their lemon and poppy seed slice - you can find their cafés across the city. While in this part of Edinburgh I had earmarked the ever so popular Mary’s Milk Bar after reading Sheri Scott's insider's guide earlier in the year, but the weather scuppered those plans so I headed back to the hotel's coffee shop, Burr & Co. There are only so many coffee spots you can visit in a couple days, but other than the ones I managed to tick off, Caringorm and The Lowdown Coffee come highly recommended.
Restaurants & bars
When thinking of how to fill your evening plans, the hotel's restaurant, The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen is a good place to start. It has plenty of Scottish produce on the menu, so I
opted for the smoked haggis for starters. It's also the perfect place to finish the night by tasting your way through their literary-inspired cocktails.
If you’re still up for a couple more drinks, then close-by you’ll find popular bars The Lucky Liquor Co. and Bramble, both on Queen Street. Lucky Liquor has an American diner feel and its drinks are great value for money, while Bramble (one of Scotland's most famous bars) showcases some top-notch cocktails. On my second day I stopped by Checkpoint for lunch - which happens to be just around the corner from The National Museum of Scotland - it's the perfect pit stop before an afternoon of exploring.
Things to do
Edinburgh offers plenty in terms of shops, restaurants and cafés, but if you’re looking for something to take up a good few hours in the afternoon then I’ve got three suggestions:
My first would be to wander around the picturesque town of Stockbridge. Situated on the edge of Edinburgh, you’re very quickly taken away from the hustle and bustle of The Royal Mile (especially during Festival season). It’s quaint, full of mews, narrow streets and countless houses that will fill you with envy.
Then past Stockbridge – if you were coming from the city centre I’d advise popping in a taxi – go and visit The Royal Botanical Gardens. This greener-than-life hub is something I wouldn’t miss when visiting Edinburgh, from leafy palms and foliage to exotic flowers and lots of colour, you can easily spend the entire day here. Try and pick a dry day to go and visit, or be wise and anticipate the ‘Scottish weather’.
And if it’s raining, then lose yourself in the National Museum, which I would argue is better than its London counterpart. There’s such a mix of old and new – both in exhibitions and architecture – when walking through and if you turn up early enough, you should be able to see everything with enough time to spare to include something else in your day.
While in Edinburgh, embrace the food, the people, the shops and everything that makes Edinburgh so unique. I’m sure I’m not the only one in saying I’ll be visiting again very soon!