Five Reasons We’re Visiting Edinburgh Right Now
Lamplighters Bar at Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph courtesy of Gleneagles Townhouse
I loved Edinburgh before it was cool. I spent most of my upbringing there learning to talk and developing motor skills, way before any of the wonderful establishments open today were a twinkle in Auld Reekie’s eye. Today, I work as a wine writer in London – generally regarded as the place to be for all things food and drink. However, an exciting string of new openings has propelled Edinburgh to the forefront of the UK’s hospitality scene. Some of the best wine lists I’ve seen of late have been in the city. But it’s not all about dining and drinking. It’s a historic, grey yet gorgeous city to discover year-round — not just for The Fringe. Wherever you’re reading this from, as a new generation of laptop-wielding WFHers, we have no excuse not to visit London’s goth cousin for at least a long-weekend getaway. Here are five reasons why.
Where to eat
The Little Chartroom
Cod, trout roe, seaweed butter, leek stuffed with a cod and brown shrimp mousse dish at The Little Chartroom Restaurant, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph by Ms Amelia Claudia, courtesy of The Little Chartroom
Head to Leith for something incredibly special. The best meal I’ve had in Edinburgh was at The Little Chartroom, a neighbourhood bistro from Ms Roberta Hall-McCarron and Mr Shaun McCarron. Thoughtfully paired wines, imaginative dishes crafted from local produce, it doesn’t get much better than this friendly, intimate eatery. Each time I’ve been here, the quality of the seafood has outshone anything else I’ve had in the area. I have nothing but praise for this restaurant. A tip: reservations are difficult to get, so always be sure to book well in advance of your visit.
Where to perk up
There is a flourishing coffee scene in Edinburgh. You won’t be able to walk for a couple of minutes before passing a beautifully designed, impeccably curated coffee shop. Wellington Coffee offers one of the best – if not the best – espressos in Edinburgh. Descend down the stairs where George Street and Hanover Street meet to a tiled spot. If it’s a nice day, grab a pastry and try and get a seat at the terrace. Not in the area? Seek out one of its sister sites: Project Coffee, Press, Kilimanjaro, Blackwood and Thomas J Walls.
33A George St, Edinburgh EH2 2HN
Where to stay
Master Bedroom at Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph courtesy of Gleneagles Townhouse
If you want to treat yourself in accommodation that balances location and privacy, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the newly opened Gleneagles Townhouse. Overlooking St Andrew Square (a mere minute’s walk from Princes Street Gardens and the Scott Monument), the really rather grand building comprises 33 luxury bedrooms, a members club, a roof terrace and an all-day restaurant. The rooms are spacious, plush and tastefully decorated — just the place to retire after scaling the Royal Mile, shopping bags in tow.
Where to end up
It’s always my greatest pleasure to introduce friends to the Mosque Kitchen at the end of an evening. A family-run operation selling budget delicious curries out of – you guessed it – the back of a mosque. There’s a big brother bricks-and-mortar operation now up and running, but a taste of where it all began, I say get a space at their tented spot. It’s by far the most delicious thing I’ve eaten off a paper plate. Just be sure to not wear your new white Birkenstocks. Learn from my mistakes.
Where to drink
Timberyard Restaurant and Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph by Ms Abi Radford, courtesy of Timberyard
Timberyard was a bit of a late discovery of mine, a place I’d always intended to drink at after tasting hundreds of wines for their annual Wild Wine Fair. With a 35-page wine list, you’re just as spoilt for choice. From grower champagnes to an entire page dedicated to Austria, this is a wine list to get lost in. Or, if wine isn’t your bag, their cocktails are made using locally foraged ingredients and homemade purées. The space itself is breathtaking, their bright red door reveals cavernous rooms, decorated sparsely but beautifully. Its Scandi-chic vibe follows with the food: a set menu is available for dinner, but there’s a set of small plates available at lunch, too.