A Weekend North of The Border

If tartan kilts, bagpipes and a great big castle are the first things that spring to mind when you think of Edinburgh then you need a serious rethink. Scotland’s capital is fast becoming the place to be seen. With new bars, restaurants and independents popping up quicker that you can say Ahi Poke Bowl, and boasting more Michelin starred restaurants per head than London it’s about time you booked your ticket.

(Image credit: The Balmoral)

Words: Sarah Hayman

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What to See

For Edinburgh first timers then it would be rude not to tick off the trusty favourites. Pop on your boots and climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat for views across the city, take a quick pit stop and drop in to the Sheep Heid to enjoy one of Edinburgh’s oldest pubs complete with skittle alley. (If you’re more Manolo than Millets then the view from Carlton Hill is less strenuous and almost just as rewarding).

Check out the Parliament buildings and Palace of Holyrood: The Queen’s official Edinburgh residence has stately rooms open to the public and there’s almost always a decent art exhibition to please the culture vulture inside.

The Royal Mile runs from the Palace to the Castle and it’s worth a saunter, taking in the tourist traps, sampling some whisky and securing your souvenir fix. Get a pic of the castle for the gram and then head to one of the mile’s many cafes for a well-earned rest bite.

Edinburgh though is really the city built for ambling. Take a stroll across the bridges, chill out in Princes Street Gardens, wander the cobbled streets of Victoria Street and The Grassmarket, and get your shopping fix in the upmarket streets of New Town.

Where to eat

Breakfast at New Town Fox
(Image credit: Mr Fox)

Start as you mean to go on with breakfast or brunch at the New Town Fox. Devour generous portions of your favourite classics whilst mixing with locals, tourists, young and old in this friendly local eatery.

Carnivores should head to the Chop House, Market St, for melt in your mouth steaks. The meat is dry aged in-house, cooked on their josper grill and then served up in a stripped back, modern setting that’s all exposed brick and industrial fittings. The cocktails aren’t bad either!

For cosy laid-back gastro pub vibes, but where the food is still top notch, head to Edinburgh’s trendy Stockbridge and sample the local fayre at Scran and Scallie. Brainchild of Michelin starred chefs Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, the changing seasonal menu and pies don’t disappoint.

Scran and Scallie

Splash the cash and celebrate in style at Michelin Starred Martin Wishart’s venture The Honours, serving up a classic French menu with the finest Scottish ingredients. Inside and cocooned in chocolate and gold interiors, Edinburgh’s bustling streets seem a million miles away. Start with a glass of champagne and the haggis bon bons to really whet your appetite.

If you’re after a fiesta then start your night at El Cartel for the freshest Mexican street food washed down with naughty mezcal cocktails. If you’re still standing at the end of your night then stop by newbie Lady Libertine’s art deco basement bar with strong DJ line up.

Veggies and Vegans are well catered for at Indian favourite Dishoom, family run trattoria Novapizza or try the healthy salad bar at Hendersons.

The Honours

Where to stay

No newcomer to the Air BnB scene there’s a myriad of choice, whether you want a modern city penthouse, an old school tenement or a posh new town townhouse Edinburgh delivers. This Royal Mile loft took our fancy, check it out here.

Topping and tailing Edinburgh’s North Bridge are the city’s most famous hotels, The Balmoral and The Scotsman. Both deliver sumptuous rooms and the perfect mix of modern luxury sensitive to their historical backdrop. The opulent interiors of the Scotsman’s Grand Café are not to be missed and with doors open to non-residents we’d suggest sampling the Afternoon Tea, a steal at £29.95 including champagne.

The JK rowling Suite at The Balmoral

Getting there

Trains to Edinburgh Waverley leave London Kings Cross every half an hour, take around 4 and a half hours, and drop you right in the city centre.

Alternatively British Airways and Easy Jet both fly several times a day, take the convenient airport bus (£4.50/£7.5) or jump in a taxi (£20-25) to be in town within 30 minutes.

Nicole Cherruault

Nicole is a freelance Digital assistant at Marie Claire UK. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh - reading History and Politics - she freelanced at Phoenix Magazine and then became the digital intern at British Vogue for 6 months. During her time there, she developed a keen interest in fashion and the ways in which it intersects with cultural phenomena across the globe. She loves cooking, personality quizzes, Louis Theroux, the NYT Opinion section and relentless family dinner table debates on the legitimacy of a female James Bond.