When my brother was at University in Edinburgh I had an excuse to visit this beautiful city regularly, and I always loved my Scottish mini-breaks. Last month I had the opportunity to revisit Scotland’s capital, to stock up on winter cashmere supplies, check out the best new eateries and try out a few speciality coffee shops. I also managed to fit in a few iconic Edinburgh tourist favourites, from the historic castle to the magnificent art museum. I hope my mini itinerary below will aid you if you plan to make the trip up north for a winter weekend getaway.
The Dunstane Houses – This charming boutique hotel has recently reopened after a major refurbishment. The owners hail from Orkney and have decorated the rooms with Scottish heritage in mind, but with all the modern amenities you could need. Thoughtful details can be noticed throughout the hotel, from the freshly baked shortbread on arrival to the luxurious Noble Isle toiletries in the bathrooms.
Timberyard – Housed within a former warehouse, this chic industrial-style dining room offers a creative menu championing locally sourced produce and specialist wines. Choose from the tasting menu or the a la carte, I was particularly impressed by the inventive and delicious vegetarian options.
Gardener’s Cottage – This tiny restaurant is found in Royal Terrace Gardens at the foot of Calton Hill. The cottage was built in 1836, originally home to the gardener, and has been transformed into an eatery for seasonal, sustainable cooking. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and a hearty weekend brunch. Guests sit at long communal tables in the two cosy dining rooms.
Lowdown Coffee – Hidden away on the lower ground floor of a multi-story Georgian house, it is easy to miss this little gem of a coffee shop. Owner Paul Anderson serves single-origin espresso and craft filter coffee in a minimalist space. Lowdown is ideally located in the main shopping area of town, so it’s perfect for an afternoon break from the manic department stores.
Cairngorm Coffee – The new branch of Cairngorm on Melville Place is the prettiest yet, with plenty of natural light and long tables to work at. The Cairngorm crew regularly rotate the beans they use, sourcing them carefully from the best roasters around the world. My flat white was strong with a rich sweetness, and the cafe had a lovely atmosphere.
The Method – I was delighted to discover this beautiful, ordered shop in Stockbridge. The Method hopes to help you achieve “a better equilibrium between mind, body and soul” with its specialist beauty products and lifestyle design items. Downstairs, a treatment room offers unique therapies, tailored to the individual.
Quarters – Located on Queen Street, and formerly known as Brotique, Quarters sells a varied range of mens essentials, from shaving kits to sunglasses.
Dick’s – This cosy independent shop has a carefully curated collection of quality menswear, womenswear, accessories and homewares. You can find lovely specialist designers from around the world, including Scaglione, Danolis and Apuntob.
Edinburgh Castle – Edinburgh Castle is the number one tourist attraction in Scotland. This historic fortress at the top of Castle Rock overlooks the city of Edinburgh and dominates the skyline. Some parts, like St Margaret’s Chapel, date back to the 12th century. You can also see the Great Hall which was erected by James IV around 1510; the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century; and the Scottish National War Memorial.
National Galleries of Scotland – This great National art gallery is found in the centre of town, housed in a neoclassical building designed by William Henry Playfair, and was first opened to the public in 1859. The rooms display Scottish and international art from the beginning of the Renaissance to the 20th century. There are many significant works on show here, including masterpieces by Jacopo Bassano, Van Dyck and Giambattista Tiepolo.
Gleneagles – The iconic Gleneagles is known best for its incredible golfing facilities, but this beautiful luxury hotel has so much more than just golf to offer. Much of the hotel has recently been refurbished so there has never been a better time to visit the beautiful grand bedrooms, indulgent spa and renowned restaurants.
More information on what to do and see in Edinburgh and Scotland here.