Why East Lothian is Scotland's best kept secret

Marine North Berwick
(Image credit: Rhona Armstrong, Marine North Berwick/Visit East Lothian)

Ever heard of the triangle of life? The elusive balance between a great job, enough sleep, and a thriving social life, where you can only pick two? Well, holidays often feel like that too. Do we opt for a bustling city break, a serene coastal retreat or lose ourselves in the rolling hills of the countryside? It's usually a trade-off, right? But not in East Lothian.

Nestled just half an hour away from Edinburgh by train, East Lothian embodies the trifecta of holiday dreams: pristine beaches, expansive countryside and easy access to urban thrills. It's the unicorn of travel destinations, offering everything you want in one bewitching package.

In this guide, we'll reveal the best of East Lothian—where to stay, dine, and explore—so you can bask in the lap of luxury and tranquility.

Luxurious accommodations

Marine North Berwick

(Image credit: Rhona Armstrong, Marine North Berwick/Visit East Lothian)

A weekend getaway without decent sleep is like a rom-com without a happy ending—unsatisfying. Fortunately, East Lothian offers an array of charming spots to lay your head after a day of coastal exploration:


Transport yourself to a bygone era of opulence at Greywalls Hotel in Gullane. Originally built as a luxury holiday home in 1901, this five-star country retreat blends the warmth of a private estate with the grandeur of a top-tier hotel. Each of its 23 rooms exudes luxury, while the sprawling gardens are perfect for leisurely strolls.

Marine North Berwick

Craving salty sea breezes? Then Marine North Berwick is your best bet. Perched along the coastline, it has stunning vistas of the Firth of Forth and Bass Rock. Embrace modern comfort with a maritime twist in its well-appointed rooms and indulge in relaxation at the exclusive spa, where scenic garden views enhance every blissful moment. And don't miss the chance to bask in the indoor-outdoor hydropool's refreshing waters while soaking in panoramic sea views. You can also enjoy a leisurely 10-15 minute stroll into North Berwick, a beloved seaside town. Explore the charms of North Berwick Harbour and browse through eclectic treasures at independent boutiques like Time & Tide, adding an extra touch of coastal magic to your getaway.

Culinary delights

Osteria Food, Visit East Lothian

(Image credit: Osteria, Visit East Lothian)

For a taste of Scotland's finest flavours, East Lothian's vibrant dining scene promises an authentic, unforgettable experience.


Step into an intimate Italian haven at Osteria in North Berwick, where just nine tables await. Each dish, crafted from locally sourced ingredients, is a culinary masterpiece complemented by an award-winning wine selection. The cosy ambiance attracts many foodies, so book your spot in advance.

 The Bonnie Badger 

Enjoy a modern twist on pub classics at The Bonnie Badger, situated within a charming hotel in Gullane. Run by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin and his wife, Michaela, the menu features only seasonal, local produce - with every bite reflecting the region's culinary heritage. Wash it down with a selection from the impressive artisan beer and wine collection for a relaxing dining experience.

Immersive experiences

Carfrae Farms

(Image credit: Catherine Purves, Carfrae Farms, Visit East Lothian)

East Lothian may be tranquil, but you certainly won't be bored. The region offers a range of activities tailored to almost any interest. 


Join outdoor adventures curated for women by nature enthusiast Anna Neubert-Wood. Connect with like-minded explorers, traverse breathtaking landscapes and embrace the natural wonders of East Lothian in a supportive and empowering environment - by partaking in activities including forest bathing, yoga, foraging and bushcraft. 

Carfrae Farm's Wellness Offerings

Escape to the sprawling landscapes of Carfrae Farm near Gifford, which falls under the stewardship of Trudi and Eric, the third generation of the Gibson family who have been farming there since 1933. Visitors can dive into wellness adventures like foraging with local expert Nev Kilkenny, where you'll learn about the key role fungi plays in our communities – you might even stumble upon something for dinner! Take a refreshing dip in the loch or embark on a soul-soothing forest bathing session. This 90-minute experience of meditation, breathing exercises, and nature immersion will leave you feeling revitalised and ready for whatever your trip holds next. You can also enjoy farm-to-table dining at the on-site shop bursting with local produce. As you eat, enjoy gorgeous views over the vast Lammermuir Hills.

Visit East Lothian

(Image credit: Anna Neubert-Wood, Visit East Lothian)

East Lothian isn't just a destination—it's an experience. Where else can you find pristine beaches, lush countryside and urban accessibility all in one beautiful locale? Embrace the magic of East Lothian by taking a journey where luxury, adventure, and tranquillity intertwine seamlessly. To learn more about East Lothian, check out visiteastlothian.org.

Niamh McCollum

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.

Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.