Edinburgh is the second most populous city in Scotland, most famous for Edinburgh Festival Fringe (or The Fringe), the largest arts festival in the world. Popular throughout the year with visitors seeking entertainment, shopping, and the sites of Edinburgh’s unique history, we think ‘Auld Reekie’ makes a great destination for a memorable weekend away throughout the year. Maybe, like JK Rowling, you could be inspired to write your first novel here in one of Edinburgh’s many coffee shops?
There’s something wonderful about walking around Edinburgh, whatever the weather or time of year. We’ve been at the height of summer and in the middle of winter. We remember a particularly wonderful Halloween night, the sound of footsteps scraping down cobbles and tales of ghostly goings on, our nerves steeled by a couple of wee drams of Scotland’s finest, but that’s the stuff on another column. Today we’re hunting out great shopping and sleeping destinations.
Edinburgh Printmakers: This isn’t the typical contemporary art gallery you often see these days; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The old-school indie feel is particularly fitting, as it’s also a hub for artists to use printmaking equipment and take courses. You can browse the shop for a great selection of framed art and screen prints. (23 Union St)
Bra Bohag: For those interested in atypical interiors, there’s the vintage selection at Bra Bohag. Various 20th-century pieces from the a range of cultures highlight this store’s wonderful collection. If you’re looking for vintage glassware from the ’70s or a ’50s desk, you’ll find that and more at Bra Bohag (150 Easter Rd)
Homer: The owners of Homer formerly owned a bookshop, something that’s apparent by the chic, cosy design of this shop. One cool aspect of Homer is that they don’t just sell one thing well, they sell everything well: you can buy a shelf, accessories for that shelf, and some household items you may need, or indeed a whole room full of furniture and accessories. This 5-floor Georgian townhouse is filled with everything from Auskin sheepskin cushions to French kitchen dressers (8 Howe St)
Moleta Munro: While some of the pieces at Moleta Munro are quite expensive, there’s a good reason for that: everything is carefully selected to ensure quality and uniqueness. Some of the shop’s smaller items make great gifts. This is a great store for beautiful modern pieces such as dining tables and chairs, colourful rugs, and functional office furniture. Designers include George Nelson and All The Way To Paris, among others. (43 London St)
Studio One: It’s hard to classify Studio One because of the huge variety of stuff it sells. You’ll find home accessories, chocolates, greeting cards, posters, colouring books and more. While some of the items may not interest you, the large selection means you’re sure to find a beautiful clock or bookend to bring a room together (71 Morningside Road)
Tigerlily: Upon entering Tigerlily, you’re immediately greeted with an explosion of colours. Bright, floral colours really pop against the light wood furniture and floors. Just a short walk from Edinburgh’s best shopping area, this award-winning hotel has a great central location. Its beautifully designed rooms, excellent bar, and nightclub and restaurant make it a great all-encompassing hospitality option.
Price level: Luxury, 125 George St, Edinburgh EH2 4JN, UK, +44 131 225 5005
Kildonan Lodge Hotel: By combining chic and luxury, the Kildoman offers everything you need in a hotel. Beautiful red carpeting perfectly complements the earthy, patterned wallpaper and traditional furniture. The luxury rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs and iPod docks, and there’s a bus route to the city right outside of the hotel.
Price level: Medium, 27 Craigmillar Park, Edinburgh EH16 5PE, UK, +44 131 667 2793
Le Monde Hotel: For a reasonable price, Le Monde gives you a luxury chic hotel — with 2 restaurants, a nightclub, and 3 bars — that’s a very short walk from Princes Street, the lively shopping centre of the city. You’ll love the luxurious decor and open space in your room.
Price level: Medium, 16 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2PF, UK, +44 131 270 3900
Galleries and Museums
Scottish National Gallery: Featuring a range of art from the 16th to 19th centuries — as well as some very famous and historical pieces — the Scottish National Gallery is a great place to see artwork from across Europe. The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL, UK, +44 131 624 6200
City Art Centre: The City Art Centre is as close as you can get to a perfect gallery. Exhibitions can run for a week or a year, which means there’s always exciting new art. The best exhibitions, however, may be the 3D models. Don’t forget to stop at the shop on the ground floor for a souvenir or two! 2 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE, UK, +44 131 529 3993
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art: Paintings are interesting and all, but there’s something particularly fun about gigantic surrealistic art. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s beautiful landscaping and marvellous sculptures will take your breath away. 75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR, UK, +44 131 624 6200
The Table: It’s not going to be cheap, but according to nearly everyone who’s been, taking a trip to The Table for dinner is well worth it. Their fine dining experience includes dishes such as foie gras and lobster in a 7-course meal. It’s one of those amazing intimate places where you sit facing the open-plan kitchen and of course enjoy locally-sourced cuisine. 3A Dundas St, Edinburgh EH3 6QG, UK, +44 131 281 1689
Nok’s Kitchen: If you’re looking for great Thai food in Edinburgh, try Nok’s Kitchen. Their affordable Thai dishes are as much art as food, and simple, elegant decor creates the perfect atmosphere. 8 Gloucester St, Edinburgh EH3 6EG, UK, +44 131 225 4804
The Colonnades at the Signet Library: Perhaps a scone and a nice warm cup of tea sounds better to you. If that’s the case, Colonnades at the Signet Library provides the perfect combination of light lunches and pastries, teas, and a warm, inviting atmosphere. The Signet Library, Parliament Square, Edinburgh EH1 1RF, UK, +44 131 226 1064
Arthur’s Seat: While you may expect Arthur’s Seat to be the throne of King Arthur, it’s actually a mountain in Edinburgh. The beautiful natural scenery of the mountain make it a great hiking spot.
The Royal Yacht Britannia: Home to The Queen and Royal Family for more than four decades, the Royal Yacht Britannia is a snapshot of the period in which it was built, and gives a glimpse into the lives and preferences of Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family during that time. Ocean Terminal, Ocean Dr, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, UK, +44 131 555 5566
Edinburgh Old Town: Fans of architecture will love the ancient castles and cathedrals of Old Town Edinburgh. If you love coffee, stop by Brew Lab for a delicious cup and a learning experience.
From London, Edinburgh is best reached by plane in about 1 hour 15, but you can get there by train in about 4 1/2 hours, car in 7 hours, or night train in 6 hours 45. Depending on which airline you choose, a flight will cost anywhere from £28 to £100.
Feature image (c): shaiith / 123RF Stock Photo