As if put together by an eccentric collector, Scotland’s capital features everything from Harry Potter to strutting peacocks—it even has an extinct volcano. But it’s also renowned for Michelin-star dining, literature and craft booze. No matter where you look, there really is something for everyone.
Where to Stay
For foodies: Malmaison
Situated on a gorgeous Georgian waterfront terrace in the rejuvenated Leith neighbourhood, the castle-like Malmaison is an on-fire foodie fave. It’s an oatcake’s throw from Edinburgh’s three trendiest restaurants: new talk-of-the-town Norn, and Michelin-star darlings The Kitchin and Martin Wishart.
For book lovers: The Balmoral
As a UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh is ground zero for writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Rankin. At The Balmoral, the city’s grandest hotel, fiction springs to life inside the magical JK Rowling Suite, where the Harry Potter novelist finished the last instalment of her wizarding saga.
For fitness fans: Prestonfield House
More baronial hunting lodge than city centre hotel, the luxurious Prestonfield House is located on acres of parkland with its own croquet lawn, putting green and golf course. Come for the menagerie of stag antler armchairs and gilded mirrors; stay for the strutting peacocks and herd of Highland cows.
For trendsetters: Haymarket Hub
Located just minutes from Haymarket’s train and tram junction, the boutique Haymarket Hub is a tech-savvy hotel in the West End—it’s the first hotel in Scotland to offer guests free smartphones to use while exploring the city and complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.
What to Do
For foodies: Sign up for a food tour with Eat Walk Edinburgh
Edinburgh smells of sea salt, fudge and whisky. Local tour company Eat Walk Edinburgh takes you straight to the sources on a three-and-a-half-hour culinary hunt that includes tasting tours of local cheeses, charcuterie, beer, gin and, of course, love-it-or-loathe-it haggis at various restaurants around the city.
For book lovers: See the school that inspired Harry Potter and go to The Writers’ Museum
Visit the Scott Monument, a gothic memorial to Rob Roy author Sir Walter Scott, then check out Greyfriars Kirkyard, Victoria Street and George Heriot’s School (all liberally used as inspiration for Harry Potter). Drop into Makars’ Court and discover the city’s who’s who at the adjacent The Writers’ Museum.
For fitness fans: Hike to Arthur’s Seat and visit Edinburgh Castle
Climb the spur of craggy Arthur’s Seat, the extinct, 251-metre-high volcano (it should take about an hour to reach the top). Then summit Calton Hill to explore a variety of monuments, including the parthenon-like National Monument, and for a moody sunset view of the city, crowned by fanciful Edinburgh Castle.
For trendsetters: Drink at Edinburgh Gin and Brewdog
It has been a banner couple of years for gin in Scotland, and this city is at the trend’s forefront. Visit small-batch Edinburgh Gin distillery to taste its raspberry, rhubarb and pomegranate-infused concoctions, then grab a grapefruit IPA or milk stout at the new 20-tap Brewdog, a bar on nearby Lothian Road.
Where to Eat
For foodies: The Stockbridge Restaurant
The Stockbridge Restaurant, tucked away in an intimate below-street basement in the leafy suburb of Stockbridge, is a temple to Scots creativity. Walls are strewn with prints from the post-impressionist Scottish Colourists, while the menu features local produce. Expect lamb, seared seabass and caramelized scallops.
For book lovers: The Voyage of Buck
World travel is the inspiration at The Voyage of Buck restaurant in the West End, with a menu and cocktails list paying homage to places like Delhi, Kyoto and Casablanca (4). Visit The Elephant House, where JK Rowling (yes, her again) put some of Harry Potter’s early years on to the page over a pot of tea—or two.
For fitness fans: Wedgwood
In a city with numerous fish and fowl restaurants, Wedgwood stands out thanks to chef Paul Wedgwood’s farm-to-fork philosophy and flair for adding foraged herbs to dishes such as Buccleuch beef filet and confit sea trout. The restaurant offers wild foraging courses that finish with a lunch at the restaurant.
For trendsetters: Le Roi Fou
On the apex of hipster Broughton Street and Leith Walk, Le Roi Fou is a bijou bistro from Swiss chef Jerome Henry, who recently relocated from London’s splashy Belgravia neighbourhood. Try the roasted cod with blood orange beurre blanc or seared Highland venison with spätzle.
[This story appears in the June 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]
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