Ciara McQuillan shares where to stay and how to dine in Edinburgh …
With its magical castle (also home to The Crown Jewels and The Stone of Destiny) looming over the cityscape, Edinburgh is the perfect backdrop for a relaxing weekend escape. Navigate the medieval old town with its profusion of boutiques, vintage shops, cocktail bars and independent restaurants or pay a visit to the elegant Georgian New Town with its formal gardens and neoclassical buildings. One thing is for certain, when it comes to dining out, you will be spoiled for choice. The problem will be narrowing the options down.
When to Visit
Like any capital city, summer is usually the busiest time to visit Edinburgh, but if warmer (note, not hot) weather is high on your list of priorities, then June – August is your best bet. For the hardier among us, springtime is a good option for a trip to the Scottish capital and truthfully, whenever you choose to visit, the weather is unlikely to dampen your experience. Log fires and cosy atmospheric dining are not to be sniffed at.
Where to Stay
Nestled in the heart of the New Town, Native Edinburgh has a selection of self-catering options for those who prefer to brew their own coffee in the morning. A studio apartment, ideal for two features a compact kitchen, a work area and a flat screen TV. Prices start at £92 per night which is incredible value. www.nativeplaces.com.
Situated in charming Stockbridge, The Raeburn is within 20 minutes’ walk of Princes Street and the New Town. Housed in a beautiful Georgian property, The Raeburn features modern design with unique touches including exposed stone walls, sash windows and tartan fabrics. The rooms feature Egyptian cotton bed sheets, marble rainforest showers and heavyweight fluffy towels and dressing gowns. Rooms from £105 per night. www.theraeburn.com.
Essentially a restaurant with rooms, The Witchery is the perfect hideaway for incurable romantics or those with a love of gothic glamour. The Witchery has just nine unique and indulgent suites complete with roll top baths and gloriously over the top décor. Rooms from £495 and by booking direct you receive a complimentary bottle of champagne. www.thewitchery.com.
Where to Eat
The Scran and Scallie
In beautiful Stockbridge, Edinburgh’s favourite celebrity chef, Tom Kitchn is the proprietor of The Scran and Scallie gastropub. Expect haggis, neeps and tatties, smoked haddock rarebit or old school ham, egg and chips in a cosy dining room. Prices are reasonable for the quality of the food and there is nice selection of cocktails and as expected, a vast range of ‘drams’ to choose from. www.scranandscallie.com.
As mentioned above, The Witchery is perhaps the most atmospheric dining room in Edinburgh and it’s worth a visit for that reason alone. Go for an unforgettable candlelit afternoon tea, candlelit lunch or candlelit dinner. Either way, there shall be candles. The ‘light lunch’ menu is good value at £27 and is the perfect way to relax after touring Edinburgh Castle which is just above the restaurant.
An independent restaurant focusing on food for sharing, small domaine wine producers and bespoke cocktails, Noto is worth tracking down while visiting Edinburgh. If you enjoy small plates such as North Sea crab with warm butter and sourdough or wild halibut with miso and keta (a type of salmon) then we suggest you book your table ahead of time to avoid disappointment. www.notoedinburgh.co.uk.
If you have yet to visit Dishoom in any of its UK locations, I strongly suggest that it makes the cut on your trip to Edinburgh. Maybe even go twice. The bacon naan for breakfast has earned cult food status and as for the gunpowder potatoes or the house black daal….Prices are reasonable and the faded elegance of the Bombay style café décor is magnificent. Again, the plates are small and made for sharing so feel free to order a selection. www.dishoom.com.
A traditional Parisian style oyster bar serving among other things, oysters, haggis fritters and Cullen skink, Café Royale is something of a hidden gem. You can choose to dine in the bar or the restaurant and the seafood platters are legendary. The interior is buzzy and all in all, a joy to behold. www.caferoyaledinburgh.com.
With one sitting per night, The Table is an interactive dining experience like no other. Guests take their seat at The Table overlooking an open-plan kitchen where they can watch each course being prepared and cooked while also being able to interact with the chefs and ask questions, while each dish on the seven-course set menu is being prepared. With only ten spaces and one sitting a night, this is one dining experience that needs to be planned in advance. www.thetableedinburgh.com.