Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh

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valentines

Are you thinking of booking a weekend away for Valentine’s day?  Edinburgh is a beautiful, romantic city to meander through while enjoying the sights.  There are an abundance of cafe’s and restaurants to suit all tastes.

Here are some of our recommendations to help you enjoy a romantic day or weekend.

Accommodation – Well there is no question about that, it would have to be The Scott Apartment!  Located centrally just off George Street, providing a perfect base for your weekend.

Brunch – What a great way to start a weekend of fun and relaxation.  Urban Angel provides a nice, relaxed setting to get your day off to a good start. Whether you want a full cooked breakfast, or something lighter Urban Angel provides a good selection from locally sourced produce.

The best way to see Edinburgh is to take a walk through the streets, from the new town to the old town, walk up to the Castle and perhaps through Princes St Gardens. On Valentine’s Day at Edinburgh Castle you can meet Sir Thomas Randolph and hear about his audacious early morning attack to take the castle for Robert the Bruce. 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2.00pm & 3.00pm.  Or simply enjoy the views of the city from the castle walls.

If you are needing an afternoon snack or lunch then I would recommend the National Portrait Cafe.  Good food, beautiful surroundings.  The building alone is worth walking round.

If shopping is more your thing, then Harvey Nichols is a good place to start for some inspiration, Multree’s Walk, located to the side of Harvey Nichols has a good selection of shops and a lovely cafe – Vanvola and Crolla Vincaffe if a caffeine boost is required.  There are a a huge selection of shops on George Street, such as Cath Kidson, the White Company, Anthropologie, White Stuff.

Do you want to surprise your love with ticket to the Theatre? Edinburgh’s Playhouse theatre is showing CATS on Valentines Day afternoon. Or enjoy a romantic Valentines concert at the Usher Hall on Friday 15th February.

For dinner I have to give you a choice, as there are just too many great restaurants to choose from!  On the doorstep of The Scott Apartment, there are two great restaurants, firstly, The Honours, Martin Wishart’s bistro restaurant offering the best traditional and modern French cuisine. “The restaurant’s name makes reference to the moment in Scottish history when Sir Walter Scott — who lived nearby — uncovered the Scottish Crown Jewels, also known as The Honours of Scotland.”  

The second recommendation is Mark Greenaway, recently relocated to North Castle Street. The menus include an eight course tasting menu, a la carte menu and a lunch and pre-theater market menu. Restaurant Mark Greenaway will be taking part in Menu Relief to feature all of marks dishes from the 12th February, whereby a £5 donation to Comic Relief will be made for every menu sold during the airing of this years series. For further details on Menu Relief click here.

Why not finish the evening off with a glass of champagne or cocktail at Tiger Lily, The Dome located conveniently on George Street or Bramble on Queen Street.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s evening or weekend in Edinburgh.

 

Fancy a pint?

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There are a large variety of pubs and laid back restaurants in Edinburgh. Whether you enjoy a tipple or not, there are a number of pubs in and around the city that are worth a visit, some for their historical interest, some for the, some for the great food and atmosphere.  Here are a selection of some of our favourites.

After a stroll through Holyrood Park head to The Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston Village, which has been beautifully restored. It is the oldest of Edinburgh’s pubs and is a lovely cosy pub to visit in the colder months, with a roaring fire and dark interiors, or in the warmer months enjoy a bite to eat and a drink in their beer garden. Take a look at their website for details of special offers.

thesheepheid

The Ship located on The Shore in Leith is a restaurant, but feels like a pub!  It serves fantastic seafood so if you are a fan of sea food it is definitely worth a visit.

The Shore bar and restaurant also located on Leith’s The Shore. A firm favourite of ours and in our opinion, one of the best pubs in Leith. The Shore is another good choice for lunch or dinner, a formal dining area is available making it a good option for a celebratory meal as well as a Sunday lunch. Fantastic food and lovely cosy atmosphere too.

theshore

The Holyrood 9A Located in Edinburgh’s old town, just off the Royal Mile. The Holyrood has a large selection of beer and ale varieties from Scotland and around the world. There’s a variety of wines and spirits and a classic cocktail list for your well deserved post-work sight seeing tipple.

holyrood

Joseph Pearce has been a bar for 110 years.  During the daytime, it is a favourite amongst Edinburgh’s families, well stocked with toys and highchairs that allow young families to enjoy a lunch or afternoon drink. In the evening the atmosphere shifts to a more grown up, laid back feel.  The food here takes on a Scandinavian influence, described as ‘wholesome Swedish food which is always served with salad’.

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The Last Drop Inn, a very traditional pub located in the Grassmarket area of Edinburgh’s old town. It is reportedly famous for being the place of the last hanging in the Grassmarket and is thought to be haunted by the spirit of a small girl in medieval clothing. Sightings of the spirit have been reported in the cellar and in the bar area!

lastdropinn

The blue goose country pub. After a walk along the banks of the Water of Leith, pop in to the blue goose country pub, a peaceful location only minutes from the city centre. Their menu is influenced by Scottish and Spanish cuisine, offering a selection of homemade tapas throughout the day.

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Let us know what you think about these recommendations or share some of your own.

City Walks with a view and a fresh perspective

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On days when we are blessed with blue sunny skies, no matter the temperature, wrap up warm and set out on foot.  Edinburgh is a beautiful city and compact enough to explore on foot. the main shopping area, Princes St is sandwiched between the Castle and Carlton Hill forming two great viewing spots of the city. Here are our top three picks for taking in the cityscape.

Carlton Hill is a short walk from Princes St, offering some of the best views of the city and over to Fife. There are good views of the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Aurthur’s Seat and Dynamic Earth. On a clear day you may be able to see as far Bass Rock near North Berwick looking to the North East. The National Monument is located here as well as the well photographed Dugald Steward Monument and the Observatory House making this an interesting walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Carlton hill

For more information and directions click here.

Edinburgh Castle Visit the oldest building in Edinburgh and take in some of the best views of the city. Towering above Princess Street gardens the grandeur is not diminished once inside.  There is much to see and do, a number of events are held throughout the year including The Military Tattoo, a number of concerts and several costumed performed events. You can plan to visit here.

Castle

Holyrood Park has been a firm favourite amongst joggers, dog walkers, and tourists alike for many years. Just a few minutes walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile (the old town), Holyrood Park reflects the rugged natural landscape of Scotland with it’s volcanic cliff’s, steep pathways, small lochs and hilly terrain. There are two hilly mounds to choose from to climb. The first is Arthurs Seat which offers excellent views of Edinburgh, Leith, portobello and a distant view across the Firth of Forth to Fife. The second is Salisbury Craigs which are a series of 150 foot cliff faces which can be seen clearly from the south of Edinburgh. Click here for more information and directions.

Holyrood park

BUPA Great Edinburgh Run

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For all those who have set intentions for 2013 to get their running shoes on and make their fitness their priority, why not take part in the BUPA Great Edinburgh Run this weekend.  All abilities are welcomed!  If you are feeling less energetic then why not show your support and cheer the runners on and do some celebrity spotting while you are there?

For more information click here.

BUPARUN

In need of some pampering?

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If the holiday celebrations have left you feeling a little worse for wear, then perhaps a day being pampered is just what you need to recharge the batteries. We are lucky to have a number of hotels in the city centre with fantastic Spa facilities alongside some smaller treatment centres in the city, all a short walk from The Scott Apartment.

Here is a selection of what is available, so why not book yourself a short break in Edinburgh and enjoy a day of pampering while you are here.

The One Spa at The Sheraton Hotel provides a wonderful area to relax and unwind.  Whether you want to spend an afternoon in the pool, relaxing by the pool, in the thermal suite, or the rooftop hydro pool you are sure to bring some relaxation to those spots of tension that accumulate throughout the year (it happens to us all!)onespa

The One Spa also has some fantastic Spa treatments on offer, my personal favourite is the Ayurvedic treatments available, particularly the Shirodhara treatment perfect for those who have been feeling stressed lately!

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For those visiting Edinburgh for a few days, I would highly recommend squeezing in some time for rest and relaxation at The One Spa, you won’t regret it!

Scotsman Spa provides another relaxing environment to tuck yourself away from the world for a couple of hours.  Enjoy a swim, jacuzzi, sauna and relax by the pool with a good book or choose from the wide range of treatments on offer to help you ease away any tension and worries.

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Balmoral Health Spa. Another beautifully relaxing environment.  Treatment rooms are lit by candle light, as is the pool area adding to the feeling of a cosy retreat from the world to soothe yourself.

If you cannot spare a day, an afternoon or a couple of hours, then how about booking an hours treatment to help you rest and recoup?

Neals Yard is a stones throw from our apartment and has a range of therapy treatments on offer including Reiki, Massage, Reflexology.

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Opening up shortly is the Castle Thai Spa on the doorstep of the Scott Apartment, on Castle Street, why don’t you give it a try and let us know what you think?

Recovery options

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We know how hard Edinburgh can party on Hogmanay. If you hit your bed by 1am you will have probably gotten off lightly, so we thought we’d collect together a few ideas to help with the recovery process on New Years Day.

Breakfast\Brunch

First things first. Toast_restaurantYou will need some food inside you. Our favourite place for a traditional Scottish cooked breakfast has to be Toast. This is a small place so you might have to queue for a seat, it is also a little walk outside of the city centre, but it is worth it we can assure you. Centotre on George St. also do a mean breakfast menu if you don’t want to venture too far. Other places we recommend include Urban Angel, Jamies Italian (brunch), Scottish National Gallery café, and Peter’s Yard.

Pampering

If you are feeling very fragile next day,One-Spa_Hydropool_Aerial drag yourself along to One Spa at the Sheraton hotel. They do day passes which are a little on the expensive side, but the facilities are excellent and the sauna’s, steam rooms, and enormous hydro suite with rooftop pool will help speed up any recovery.

Fresh Air

If you are like me, nothing but fresh air can help shift a hangover. Fortunately for you, Edinburgh is blessed with its very own Arthur’s Seat which is usually a perfectly sized stroll to match any residues of the night before. Aim for the top and the views of the city will help you forget about any hangover. You might even see the brave souls taking part in the Loony Dook in the Firth.

Photos of Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh
This photo of Arthur’s Seat is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Hair of the Dog

Of course, if all else fails and you prefer the most traditional of cures then you couldn’t be in a better place. Edinburgh has every type of place to drink, maybe you want a cocktail from Tiger Lilly or a traditional pint at the amazing Café Royal. You will be spoilt for choice and you might even find some of the locals still celebrating from the night before!

After the party

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Whilst Edinburgh comes into the spotlight leading up to Hogmanay, we thought we’d take a look at what the city has to offer after the dust has settled on the best Hogmanay party in the world. If you are heading to Scotland for the weather, then January certainly isn’t the best choice, but don’t let that put you off, this is Scotland and nobody here minds the weather and there is still plenty to do regardless of what is happening outside. You can also find some fantastic deals on travel and accommodation at this time of year, so why not consider a city break in January and enjoy your visit without the crowds.

Loony Dook

The Loony DookKicking off on the morning after Hogmanay, this annual event see’s the brave, fearless, and insane take to the water in the Firth of Forth for what could best be described as a bracing start to the new year. It really is quite a sight, not for the feint hearted though, especially after such a great party the night before. A perfect cure for a hangover….or so I’m told.

City Attractions

Unlike many cities, Edinburgh attractions remain open year round. Obvious places such as the Castle are very much open for visitors and in contrast to months like July and August, you will have the place almost to your self. There are lots of other things to see and do though, here are just a few:

Camera Obscura - This is a great place to add to your list of things to do when visiting the city. The array of exhibitions, interactive displays, and optical illusions can be thrilling for young and old alike.

Edinburgh Dungeons – If you like to experience things that rise your blood pressure , then this is the place for you. This relatively discrete place behind Waverley Station is home to some gruesome sights and sounds. They use actors to add a personal touch to the experience and bring the history lesson to life.

The Scott Monument - Sometimes, you get those cold, crisp winter days where the skies are blue and the sun makes a welcome appearance. You can make use of days like this to visit our patron’s monument. The size and grandeur tell you how much Sir Walter means to Scotland, and the top offers the perfect vantage point from which you can view our beautiful city. Be prepared for a workout though, with 287 steps to climb, you will earn the reward the view provides when you reach the top.Photos of Scott Monument, Edinburgh
This photo of Scott Monument is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Museums

Edinburgh is truly blessed with some fantastic museums, all of which are free for general entry and are perfect place to spend the day when the days are short. Here is a selection of our favourites:

Scottish National Portrait Gallery - The building this is located in is worth the visit on its own, and the scones in the café rank highly too! The national collection of portraits is impressive though and is interesting for those who are well acquainted with art or those who just recognise a great photograph when they see one. They also run regular gallery tours and events, worth the few pounds they charge if you want some detailed insight into the collection or building. Just don’t forget to sample the scones before you leave!

Scottish Story Telling Centre – More of an experience than a museum this one, but definitely worth a visit and not one of the usual tourist places. Scots are renowned for the ability to tell a great story and this place amplifies the talent. There is always something going on and with Burns Night coming up at the end of January, you can expect to find wee Rabbie featuring strongly on the events list.

National Gallery Scotish National Gallery- No matter what time of year you visit Edinburgh the National Gallery is worth a visit. In January though, they have their annual display of Turner watercolours. This collection was bequeathed to the gallery for public display on an annual basis 100 years ago and is still honoured today. An opportunity to see some rare work of art if you visit Edinburgh in January and well worth the trip.

Tours

With so many historical buildings and sights, for first time visitors to Edinburgh your best option is one of the many tours that operate in the city. They range from the general sight seeing tours, to specific interest tours that show you a side to the city you might not normally discover.

Bus Tours - This company offer a range of different tours, from generic sightseeing, to a wonderful Horrible Histories tour which will keep the kids interested as you drive around the city. For the brave amongst you, there are open top buses for unobstructed views of the sight. Wrap up warm though!

Walking Tours - Edinburgh is a very compact city and ideal for taking a brisk stroll round with a tour guide. There are a number on offer to cater for different needs. Most of them begin on the Royal Mile and provide more depth of commentary than you might find on the bus tour if you want to dig deeper into the history of the city.Pictures of New Edinburgh Ghost Tour, Edinburgh
This photo of New Edinburgh Ghost Tour is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The Real Mary King’s Close - The old town in Edinburgh is built on a rocky spur with the Royal Mile climbing the spine of this spur. Away to each side run narrow alley ways and closes, one of which is Mary King’s Close. These narrow passage ways tell a story that is centuries old and a fascinating insight into what life was like in the city in the 17th century. The tour of the close uses actors to help tell the story and adds an element of reality to the visit. The story they tell is incredible and is a perfect place to head to for an interesting afternoon.

No matter what the weather or time of year, Edinburgh has a huge amount to offer any visitor. Wrap up warm and plan your trip well and you could be experiencing the city at its best without the crowds you will find later in the year. Book your trip now, what are you waiting for?

Time for Tea

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On a wintry afternoon we love nothing more than finding a warm, cosy, elegant place to indulge and treat ourselves while warming in front of a roaring fire.  High tea is a lovely way to celebrate and a wonderful way to hide away from the cold weather. Here are a few of the high tea’s we have sampled in Edinburgh that we can highly recommend.

Rhubarb at Prestonfields – A short taxi ride out of town to Prestonfield’s, arriving outside the grand and beautiful baroque former home of Edinburgh’s Lord Provost. Prestonfield’s which is now a beautifully styled, opulent and quirky five star hotel and restaurant. It is a feast for the eye’s as well as the stomach. This is the perfect setting for a winter Afternoon Tea, dark, cosy interiors, fire’s roaring and the most delicious pastries.

Take a look at their Afternoon Tea menu here.

The Balmoral Another sumptuous experience. Beautifully surroundings of the Balmoral Hotel on the corner of North Bridge and Princes St, standing tall above Waverley train station. Afternoon Tea can be served in the Drawing Room or the Bollinger Bar where you can enjoy music by the resident harpist. A wonderful selection of sandwiches and pastries are on offer and your choice of tea or champagne.

Bonhams is a small boutique hotel in the West End of Edinburgh. Afternoon Tea is served in the bar area, known as the Consulting Room, which is a small, intimate setting.  Another great choice for Afternoon Tea.

Rhubarb has to be our favourite, due to the beautiful surroundings and granduer of the setting, makes for a special, memorable experience.

He’s behind you!

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It’s pantomine time. As we approach winter it’s time to plan a trip to the theatre with friends and family for a fun filled pantomime. Pantomimes are full of laughter, colourful costumes, singing and joining in with the occasional “He’s behind you!”

There are lots on offer here in Edinburgh, here is a sample of what’s on offer:

27 November – 5 January Puss in Boots.  A pantomime full of fun and laughter with lots of gags, local references, chart hits, outrageous costumes and lots of singing, dancing and a chance to join in.

Brunton Theatre

29 November – 29 December Cinderella.  A new twist on a classic tale, this Cinderella is relocated to modern-day Paris where she lives with her father and longs for the love and glamour of a rather unique Prince.

The Lyceum

Saturday 1 December to Sunday 20 January 2013 Mother Goose.  Mother Goose, a magical story about the goose that lays golden eggs, is a fairytale of loyalty, friendship and virtue over vanity.

Kings Theatre

Thursday 13 to Sun 30 December The Snowman. Celebrating 14 years on the stage, the live version of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved children’s classic,The Snowman.

Festival Theatre

Friday 14 December Lapin Wants to See Santa. A performance to suit nurseries, schools and families. A story about the French rabbit Lapin who invites Santa for a hot chocolate.

Scottish Story Telling Centre

Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 December Twinkle Bell (45mins).  A special fairy on a magical adventure through the forest in an interactive Christmas show by Clare McGarry, especially created for little ones with magical puppets, music and song.

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Saturday 22nd December 2pm & 6pm Cinderella. A classic children’s pantomime that will have the audience, crying, laughing and booing. It truly is a magical experience. Suitable for children aged 4-14 years.

National Mining Museum Scotland

8 – 12 January The Nutcracker Ok, so it’s not a pantomime, but it is such a beautiful retelling of this Christmas story.  We are provided with a stunning display of sets and costumes, beautiful choreography and Tchaikovsky’s score performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.

Festival Theatre

Show time

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During the colder months, the theatre is a great place to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening.  In Edinburgh we are spoilt for choice with a number of theatres that open their doors to some new and some old favourite shows.

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Edinburgh shows feature all the main UK touring musicals, shows, plays and blockbusters throughout the year. Edinburgh also has the largest auditorium in the UK outside London – The Edinburgh Playhouse.

Here is a small sample of what is on offer over the coming months:

A the Edinburgh Playhouse theatre, We Will Rock You is showing from 29th November through to 7th January.  Dirty Dancing starts on 4th December until 12th Jan 2013 and Dolly Parton 9 – 5 the musical 26th November to 1st December.

In the New Year, the Kings Theatre is showing A Midsummer Nights Dream in January and February as well as a host of other productions. Or perhaps a night at the Ballet at the Festival Theatre to watch The nutcracker in January. Scottish Ballet: The Nutcracker

If it is music you are after, then the Usher Hall is the place for you. At this landmark venue, you will find one of the worlds most amazing musical programs running year after year in the worlds most amazing concert hall. The elegant surroundings play host to a wide range of tastes, from evening concerts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Silent film nights with organ music, or modern stars such as Paloma Fatih in January and Emeli Sande in April. Don’t miss their Christmas concerts either, wonderful nights that are not to be missed including classics with Lesley Garret on the 16th of December.

Just next door to Usher Hall, Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre is known as Scotland’s new writing theatre, and is best known for commissioning and presenting new works by contemporary Scottish writers, as well as supporting and facilitating script development workshops, rehearsed readings and public writing workshops. The Traverse has a long program of one or two night contemporary presentations, but also has an interesting sounding run in December of the Arthur Conan Doyle appreciation society. Mixing lectures about many of the great writers stories with some comedy and various other whacky approaches, it sounds like a great evenings entertainment.

If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh then why not plan an evening at the theatre too, with such a wide variety of shows on offer, there is something for everyone.

Let us know if you have any recommendations.

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