During festival time in Edinburgh, Scotland, the city is alive with events and bursting at the seams with tourists, but it’s still possible to escape the crowds and enjoy the locals’ favorite places. I asked Ross from The Luxury Editor, the Edinburgh-based independent luxury travel magazine, to give us an insight into best place to go and things to do during the summer festivals - or any time of year - in Auld Reekie.
Edinburgh has a great café culture, so forget Starbucks and go to one of the city’s smaller local outlets. Broughton Street is a great spot for that breakfast espresso; head to Artisan Roast for award winning coffee – you can even take a bag of their coffee beans home with you. If you like cake, head across the road to the Bakehouse, or walk a bit further down Broughton Street to Casa Angelina, another small cake shop tucked away on the left hand side of the roundabout.
Just a ten-minute walk away from Broughton Street on Queen Street is newly opened Fortitude Coffee Merchants; it’s small cosy and 100% hipster! If you want something more Scandinavian then check out Swedish bakery Peters Yard in the Meadows where their on-site bakery and produces fresh products every day.
You are tripping over bars in Edinburgh, but if you want one that none of the tourists know about then prohibition style Panda and Sons on Queen Street is where to go. It looks like a barbers shop from the outside, but go in and walk down the back stairs, then pull the special book on the bookshelf at the bottom of the stairs and you are in a hidden world of delicious cocktails. I have only one recommendation and that is to try “the birdcage.” It’s my favourite drink in all of Edinburgh.
A ten-minute walk north of Panda and Son’s and you are in the super cool residential area of Stockbridge. It’s like a mini village within the city. Try out the newly opened Raeburn Hotel for a nightcap (sit on the first floor balcony at the back).
Tucked up one of the old town closes is Devil’s Advocate, appropriately named after Advocates Close on which it is located. This is for the uber cool amongst us. The atmosphere is relaxed and the Victorian pump house decor adds an edgy feel. There is a vast variety of cocktails crafted by award-winning bartenders, a nice selection of wines and over 200 whiskies, too, for those with a penchant for our native drink.
If you have walking legs or are happy to jump in a taxi, there is only one place to go and that is the shore. A hidden gem in the city, this former red light district has been reborn and is a super trendy hotspot of bars and restaurants – including two with Michelin stars. Try out Malmaison for a cocktail or three and then go to the Lioness of Leith for more drinks.
While parts of the UK have been lost to chain stores, Edinburgh has managed to keep alive many of its independent boutiques and shops.
If your shopping spree is directed by the love of food, then award winning Crombies of Edinburgh is the place to go for meat and over 40 varieties of sausage. Many of these are award winning! With so many options from which to choose, it will take you a while to make up your mind what to buy. If you like cheese (I’m a fanatic!) then I J Mellis is the place to go. It’s like a Santa’s Grotto of Cheese. They have two shops in Edinburgh – one in Stockbridge and one on Victoria Road. If you like blue cheese, I highly recommend the Gorgonzola. It’s out of this world.
If fashion is more your thing, head to the West End of Edinburgh, which feels like a mini Marylebone high street in London. Check out the boutiques like Paper Tiger and Studio One. If you like Scandinavian fashion, go to Kakao by K on Thistle Street. It’s a hidden gem with many other designer boutiques lining this quaint little road, too.
If you like a drink - and let’s be honest you are in Scotland so it is virtually compulsory - then the newly opened Pickerings Gin Distillery (the first gin distillery in Edinburgh in 150 years) at Summerhall is well worth a visit. Book a tour there and then finish off having a gin in the Royal Dick bar, where they serve the gin on tap. Beat that.
And if you are more musically minded, you might be interested in visiting the University of Edinburgh’s musical instrument museum, which is just off the Royal Mile.
Prefer the great outdoors, but really don’t want to walk too far? The Royal Botanics is a somewhat overlooked park, but a really incredible place to spend a few hours. Make sure you visit the Victorian glass houses.
Edinburgh places to sleep
If all that sounds far too energetic, then you need somewhere to lay your head for the night. Boutique apartment provider Vie Amhor offers home-from-home luxury in the heart of the city. If you want to be truly indulgent, opt for a Jacuzzi suite in Nira Caledonia.
Keep up to date with what’s happening in Edinburgh, by visiting the Edinburgh page of TLE.