Whether you’re in town for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay or planning a trip during the warmer months, Edinburgh is a great city to explore if you love shopping, spas and sweet treats. (And who doesn’t, right?) I’ve put together my ultimate guide to Edinburgh for the stylish traveller.
The cobbled streets of Edinburgh are home to many spooky stories that you can discover on a ghost or history walk with Mercat Tours. For something a little more light-hearted the Camera Obscura is a great place to get some comedy optical illusion Instagram shots as well as sweeping view of Edinburgh from the rooftop.
Edinburgh’s known for its whisky but to discover where the term ‘mother’s ruin’ comes from sign up to a tour of the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. Here you’ll learn about the dodgy past of gin, its rise and fall in popularity, as well as how its made. (Random gin fact: the original concept of ‘Jenever’, gin’s early cousin, came from the Dutch who used to give it to their soldiers before battle – hence the term ‘Dutch courage’.) At the end of your education you’ll have loads of random facts to drop into party conversations and you get to sample some of the fine Edinburgh Gin varieties too.
To detox after all that gin check into the One Spa at The Sheraton. Their Thermal Suite features multiple steam rooms, saunas and a hammam and there’s a 7 step process they recommend, involving cooling scented rainforest showers, that will leave you feeling truly refreshed by the end of it. Then head to the Hydropool, a heated pool filled with power jets that extends from inside the building out onto the rooftop. It’s a bizarre but refreshing experience to find your body in a warm jacuzzi whilst your face is exposed to the Edinburgh elements. Finally, I recommend you grab a book and snooze on the heated loungers back inside the building. Pure bliss, my friends.
Edinburgh is a fantastic place to shop, especially if you love second-hand books and vintage shops. Some of my favourite labyrinth-like book stores are in Westport – check out Edinburgh Books and Armchair Books. You’ll also find some fab vintage shops around here too.
Also worth a visit is Stockbridge, a bijou area of north Edinburgh, which feels like its own little village. Golden Hare Books is a great place to get new releases, especially gorgeous picture books for children. The store’s owner has a design background and you can feel that in the way the store is laid out. It makes a refreshing change from some of the maze-like second-hand stores; I could have browsed the shelves all day.
For high-end fashion head to St Andrew’s Square where you’ll find the likes of Louis Vuitton and Edinburgh’s Harvey Nichols. Princes Street is where you’ll find all the high street heroes, such as Topshop and Primarck, but the streets parallel have more mid-range brands and independent boutiques. George Street is where you’ll find the likes of Anthropologie, Space NK and Sweaty Betty.
Edinburgh does everything from cakes to curries rather well. First up you need to have brunch at Urban Angel. Serving all day breakfast (such magic words), Urban Angel is a pretty popular joint but I assure you their Brioche French Toast with Bacon is worth the wait. (Fact: Sue Perkins off Bake Off was in the queue behind us for a table. I figured if a TV cake taster thought it was worth waiting for I’d best join the queue too!)
For homemade cakey treats you must plan a visit to Lovecrumbs. Serving only cake – no soups or sandwiches so don’t bother asking – this adorable cafe is run by a bunch of ladies who love to bake. The cafe is full of ramshackle furniture; the cakes are in a magic wardrobe and you can eat your slice at a piano. You can also find their cakes in several cafes around the city including Brew Lab and Fortitude who both do fab coffee. (More on the Edinburgh coffee scene to follow shortly.)
Another place for sweet tooths to try is Mary’s Milk Bar. Mary’s make their own gelato and chocolate, which they then serve in gloriously indulgent milkshakes and molten lava hot chocolates. I’m also a fan of nearby Hula Juice Bar who do healthier-sounding shakes and smoothies and rather nice bagels (try the brie, bacon and cranberry – you won’t be disappointed!).
Dinner-wise Edinburgh has got every type of cuisine covered. For a cosy atmosphere and delightful Edinburgh-meets-the-Med small bites head to The Bon Vivant (they’ve got outposts in Thistle Street and Stockbridge.) From haggis bon bons to deep fried brie and pork belly, everything we ordered here (and we ordered a lot!) was divine. They also do fantastic gin cocktails, tell the barman what you fancy and they’ll custom make you something epic.
My other top pick for dinner is V Deep in Leith. V Deep is a curry and craft beer bar, which is probably all I need to say on that point. See also the giant fluffy naan bread in the picture below if you need convincing further.
Edinburgh is a rather hilly city so if you’d like to be in the middle of the action the G&V Royal Mile is an incredibly stylish 5-star option, just a stone’s throw from the castle. The property was once run by the Missoni fashion brand and you can see influences of this in some of the furnishings. In my bedroom the vibrantly patterned art complimented the colourful bedding and modern furniture. There was a fantastic mural on one wall, which mirrored the view from the window, and the padded black dressing gowns make me feel like a rock star.
Adding to this stylish interior was some incredibly fast and friendly service from the team at G&V. When I forgot my toothpaste a devilishly handsome man in a kilt delivered it to our door in minutes. It made me want to call room service more often!
Have a fab time in Edinburgh my lovelies.
I visited Edinburgh as part of#blogmanay, which is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, The Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Festivals Edinburgh, Marketing Edinburgh, Rabbies Tours and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always, all opinions and cake recommendations expressed here are entirely my own.