Edinburgh: Why It’s One of Europe’s Most Beautiful Cities
Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors to Edinburgh
After Glasgow, Edinburgh is Scotland’s second most populous city. This quaint city is affectionately known as ‘Auld Reekie’ (old smokie), which refers to smoke from the chimneys of the city’s tenements during times of industrialization. But what most people flock to this city for is its rich history, lively pubs and decedent restaurants. Lauded as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Edinburgh never loses its charm no matter how many times you visit. And whether you’re planning a fun getaway with friends or planning an unforgettable honeymoon, here’s a few luxurious hotels and things to do you should consider before planning your trip to the “Empress of the North.”
Stay at One of These Recommended Luxury Hotels
Make the most of your trip! With help from one of Vacation’s travel agents, plan your stay at one of these recommended luxury hotels for your home base to explore Edinburgh.
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian: Located at the end of Princess Street, this hotel is close to major attractions and less than a mile away from Edinburgh Castle, The National War Museum and the Church of Scotland. In addition to 24-hour room service (including valet laundry and concierge services), guests have access to a fitness room, heated indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna and the only Guerlain spa in the United Kingdom. Guests here have four options to wine and dine. Enjoy exquisite food and drinks at Chef Daniel Ashmore’s Pompadour, the French bistro Galvin Brassiere De Luxe, the Caley Bar, and Peacock Alley – an old train station ticket office transformed into a restaurant, and perfect for an intimate cocktail or afternoon tea for two.
The Glasshouse: This 5-star hotel is just a few steps away from the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre, St. Giles Cathedral and Holyrood Palace. Get picturesque views of the city from the hotel’s rooftop terrace. And if you want to grab lunch or dine, enjoy the traditional British cuisine served at the Observatory Restaurant with views of the garden. Parents traveling with kids will appreciate the hotel’s childcare services (for a surcharge), especially when the adults need some quality time alone. Limo/town car service, express check-in and roundtrip airport shuttle service are also amenities featured at the luxurious property.
Malmaison Edinburgh: Stay in this waterfront luxury hotel on Leith Shore if you want to feel the cool sea breeze, but you also want to be close to all the action. Spacious rooms with luxurious décor, baths that you could swim in and same-day laundry service are just a few amenities to keep guests content and comfortable. Feeling hungry after a day of sightseeing? Enjoy a tasty meal at Chez Mal Brasserie that not only serves traditional Scottish, English and French food, but it also features wine tastings and private dining. And to complement the hotel’s seaside setting, Chez Mal Brasserie serves dishes such as seared blackened salmon, tuna tartare and lobster risotto. Malmaison Edinburgh is located near not-to-be-missed attractions, including the Royal Yacht Britannia. Visit the National Museum to see some of the world’s finest art; beat the crowd and pre-book a trip to the magnificent Edinburgh Castle; or go shopping for high-end, designer brands on Princes Street.
Cringletie House: It may be a 50-minute drive away from Edinburgh, but a stay in these luxe, castle-like accommodations is so worth it! Located in Peebles, this the perfect, quiet getaway for honeymooners. This former Scottish baronial home has 13 beautiful rooms overlooking the gardens and Scottish countryside. The Cringletie House has a bar that services lunch, but its main restaurant serves lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, where guests can order from the 7-course tasting menu, which includes wine and cocktail pairings. Work off all that good food with a relaxing walk around the grounds and garden, play game of outdoor chess or flex your archery skills. For more adventurous guests, arrange an excursion to go mountain biking, canoeing, golfing or fishing. This is where newlyweds go for a little countryside rest and relaxation.
Check Out Our 3 Favorite Attractions
Edinburgh Castle: One of Scotland’s most popular attractions, it’s played a pivotal role as a royal residence and as a military stronghold.
National Museum of Scotland: The original Victorian museum houses a collection covering natural history, archaeology and industrial technology, while a more modern building traces Scotland’s history.
Jenners: Known as the ‘Harrods of the North’, Jenners is the grande dame of Scottish department stores, boasting designer brands galore as well as a food hall run by Edinburgh-based award-winning Italian grocer Valvona & Crolla.
Add These One-of-a-Kind Experiences to Your Itinerary
Maid of The Forth: During the summer months, the seasoned jazz band on this boat offers a lively accompaniment to the setting sun, as the vessel putters its way under the Forth Bridges and past charming islands such as Inchcolm.
Restaurant Martin Wishart: Leith’s Shore area is replete with top-class culinary venues, but none better than this Michelin-star restaurant where the team produces quality French fare using the finest local ingredients. And while we’re on the subject of food, we recommend trying Michelin-starred Kitchin Restaurant also in Leith. For $43, you can buy a three-course lunch and sample dishes such as fillet of sea hake served with seaweed terrine and red wine sauce.
Arthur’s Seat: This is an extinct volcano that rises to a height of 823-foot-tall volcano. Climb the summit for 360-degree views over the city and the Lothian countryside.
Be Adventurous, Go Off the Grid
Jupiter Artland: This outdoor sculpture park has exhibited works by Turner Prize nominees and big names such as Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormley and Andy Goldsworthy.
Cycle Network: Edinburgh has an extensive network of cycle paths built along unused train lines and wind their way through bucolic countryside and feels removed from this city.
Descend & Discover: The caves and vaults under Blair Street in the Old Town provide a fascinating insight to the city’s gothic history.
Explore Edinburgh’s Immersive Local Hangouts
The Blue Blazer: Traditional Edinburgh boozers don’t come more relaxed than this perennial favorite with its fine (70-odd bottles) selection of rum, Scottish cask ales and whisky.
The Holyrood 9A: This gastro-pub offers arguably the best burgers in the city with no less than 19 varieties on the menu.
Portobello Beach: Scotland may not offer tropical regions, but this wide and sandy city beach (and its adjacent promenade) is an appealing spot for a cycle or stroll.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable vacation to Edinburgh? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent to customize an itinerary you’re gonna love.