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City Guide

It’s always a good idea to take advice from the locals so here are a few suggestions of places which we frequent and which we hope you will enjoy too! If you find any that we’ve not included then please let us know and we’ll try them out ourselves!

Cafes

The Olive Branch (0131-557-8589 www.theolivebranchscotland.co.uk ): just opposite the New Town Deli about half way down Broughton Street. This café/brasserie is also open in the evening when it turns into quite a romantic setting for some well priced and varied brasserie food. On a hot day (yes it does happen!), it’s great to sit outside and people watch.

The Broughton Deli – this cute little neighbourhood deli come café (through the back of the shop) is situated just off Broughton Street just opposite the New Town Deli. It’s such a gem because of all the home made cakes, salads, hams, pickles (I could go on!) that are made by the owners on the premises.

Artisan Roast Coffee Shop - half way down Broughton Street on the right- if you are a coffee connoisseur then this is the place to head for. One of the best in town- locally roasted in Edinburgh and expertly made by the in house baristas.

Stag Cafe at Dovecot Studios: Drop in whilst you’re wandering round this great contemporary gallery with many craft and tapestry based works on show. Great coffee and some lovely hearty sandwiches and soup options. Located on Infirmary Street- head along South Bridge just after the Royal Mile and it’s next left.

Cafe Tartine- new to the Leith dining scene and located on Commercial Quay, this is a busy and bustling French cafe which successfully manages to work well for lunch as well as dinner. Fare is as you would expect very traditionally French, from croque monsieur to more complex dishes, everything is delicious. Oh and if you sit in the front conservatory you can bring your dog (which Vera is very happy about!).

Urban Angel (Hanover Street: 0131-225-6215 www.urban-angel.co.uk) Relaxed brasserie/cafe menu for lunch and dinner of freshly made delights and great cakes. 

De Georgio’s (0131-624-4666) formerly Circle Café- an Italian style bistro/café with beautiful original stone wall interior- great open sandwiches/coffee and cakes as well as a good selection of restaurant quality daily specials all made on the premises!  Just head down Broughton Street and keep going for another 5 minutes or so on the way to the botanic gardens!

The New Town Deli – located half way down Broughton Street- hearty sandwiches and coffee with a great corner window to watch the world go by.

Wellington’s: If you need a pit stop whilst shopping on George street then this is the best option- located at Hanover Street and George Street- great coffee and a lovely scone! Another great local option and example of why you should avoid Starbucks! Not to be missed.

Embo (0131-652-3880 www.embodeli.com ) – if you’re heading up into town or wandering back after a hard day’s sightseeing drop in to Embo on Leith Walk (on the left heading towards Pilrig Street). They also sell great coffees, freshly squeezed juices and a great selection of design your own sandwiches!

Valvona and Crolla (0131-556-6066 www.valvonacrolla.com )- an Edinburgh institution- this is the best Italian deli- probably between here and Italy!- situated at the top of Leith Walk on the way to Princes Street (Elm Row)- at the back of the deli is a great café open for coffee and food all day.

Vin Caffé (0131-557-0088 www.valvonacrolla.com )- a great contemporary eatery also owned by Valvona and Crolla so it serves the best in of their fabulous deli food and more in a sophisticated atmosphere. Located in the fashionable Multrees walk just behind Harvey Nichols.

National Galleries Cafés (- my favourites are the modern Art Gallery and the Dean Gallery cafés (located just across the road from each other a short walk or free gallery bus ride from town- the shuttle bus runs between all the national gallery sites regularly through the day). A great lunch stop in between taking in some culture. The latest addition is the newly reopened and rerubished cafe at the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street- worth checking out.

Eteaket (0131-226-2982 www.eteaket.co.uk )- this lovely little afternoon tea spot is located on Frederick Street and is the perfect pitstop for the perfect cup of tea (in more varieties than you can imagine) and cake…of course!

Rapido (0131-556-2041)- not really a café but we think it should make the list! Situated on Broughton Street between the Barony Bar. This is a great fish and chip shop with much more besides- freshly prepared pizza cooked while you wait, baked potatoes and a host of other home made fast food options- who needs Mcdonalds!

Spoon (0131-556-6922)- located in the building formerly ‘Nicholsons’ and made famous by JK Rowling- it’s where she penned her first Harry Potter book!- located on South bridge, just past the Royal Mile opposite the Festival Theatre. This is by no means a greasy spoon- in fact, quite the opposite- a bright and airy café where food is the main draw- lots of fresh and tasty soups, salads and sandwiches make this a great lunch stop.

Restaurants…

The list reads in ascending order from cheap and informal to posh and pricey…

The Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar (0131-555-3577 www.tailendrestaurant.com) – situated close to town, just down Leith Walk this is not just a take-away chip shop…it’s so much more…eat in or take away, this is the pinnacle of indulgence but the selection of fresh fish cooked to order (deep fried or grilled) with all the trimmings make it much easier to come to terms with!

Origano (0131-554-6539) – situated close to town, just down Leith Walk a little further than Plirig Street- this is a fabulous little neighbourhood pizzeria- opened in the summer of 2011, it’s making an impression- recently listed as Edinburgh’s number 1 pizzeria on Trip Advisor. A lovely informal dining option which is also currently BYOB on Monday and Tuesday so you won’t break the bank. They also have a new branch which is located a lilttle further down Leith Walk on the other side.

La Favorita (0131-554-2430 www.la-favorita.com)- on Leith Walk, just a little further down from Pilrig Street (before Origano), La Favorita has previously won the restaurant award for best pizzeria in the UK- modern Italian cooking- and great pizzas! Their sister restaurant, Vittoria’s (0131-556-6171 www.vittoriarestaurant.com) -a traditional Edinburgh institution but with a recent makeover- is also on Leith Walk slightly further towards Princes Street- also great with a huge selection of traditional italian dishes. Outdoor seating makes for fun summer evenings- sweaters not supplied so bring one and you can sit out ‘til late under the heaters.
Finally the latest offering from this mini Edinburgh chain is Taste of Italy which is located just down from the Playhouse Theatre- very servicable and inexpensive- great for a pre-theatre bite.

Serrano Y Manchego - (0131-554-0955)- the newest addition to Leith Walk, just slightly further down than Pilrig Street, this authentically designed pincho and tapas bar is a hit with the locals. Lots of home made goodies and of course sangria!

Diner 7 - (0131-553-0624 www.diner7.co.uk ) in the Shore area of Leith (Commercial Street just over the bridge)- a new, contemporary and stylish diner with great burgers and steaks and good selection of fish and changing special dishes. It’s also very well priced- it’s quite small and gets busy so it’s always a good idea to book!

The Jolly (0131-556-1588 www.jollyristorante.co.uk) –The Jolly may just be the most kitsch Italian restaurant that you’ve ever been in but don’t let that distract you from the great pizzas from their traditional wood fired oven. Great value and with a lovely local atmosphere- and it’s located on Elm Row just at the top of Leith Walk- Vito the owner will always greet you with a friendly smile and usually a lollipop to wish you goodnight!

Bonzai (0131-668-3847-West Richmond Street, 0131-557-5093- Broughton Street www.bonzaibarbistro.co.uk)- originally located on the south side but now, happily for us, moved to the top of Broughton Street!- from sushi, noodles and teriyaki- a great array of Japanese tapas style dishes that will leave you very satisfied.

Pickles (0131-557-5005): Although this is billed as a wine bar/cafe I think it deserves a mention in our restaurant section- if you just want a glass of wine, cool beer and some grazing platters this is a lovely local hang out- cosy and contemporary decor with a small menu of great meat/cheese/pates and pickles. We give Pickles a big tick!

L’Escargot Bleu (0131-557-1600 www.lescargotbleu.co.uk) Located on Broughton Street (with Pickles just below in the basement) this is a wonderful authentically French restaurant- some great, classically French cooking in a bistro setting, this is always a huge treat.Very good value pre-theatre option if you eat before 6.45pm. Say hi to our friend Sebastian the manager!

The Dogs (0131-220-1208 www.thedogsonline.co.uk ): With our new credit crunch lifestyles this is difficult to beat- good hearty food, bustling contemporary style and a bill that won’t break the bank. Always rammed so book ahead. The Dogs is situated on Hanover Street.

Contini Ristorante (0131-225-1550 www.contini.com/contini-ristorante )- former directors of Valvona and Crolla (the best Italian deli in hundreds of miles!) run this stylish café/restaurant near the west end of George Street (corner of Castle Street).  Good Italian cooking in an amazing Edinburgh building. Sister restaurant Canonball next to the castle.

The Dome (0131-624-8624 www.thedomeedinburgh.com )- again on George Street, near the St Andrew Square end (opposite the George Hotel)- this is a great place to stop for lunch or an afternoon pit-stop- worth it just to experience the inside of the building-originally a bank headquarters. Top tip- don’t miss the amazing ceiling.

Fish Restaurants: For the best fish restaurants in Edinburgh you really have to head down to Leith where there are a multitude of great eateries....

Fishers on the Shore (0131-554-5666 www.fishersbistros.cu.uk ); The Shore (0131-553-5080 www.theshore.biz ); The Ship On The Shore (0131-555-0409 www.theshipontheshore.co.uk ); The King’s Wark (0131-554-9260 www.thekingswark.com )…all well worth the trip and with a great waterfront setting. My favourite and also that of most of the Edinburgh locals is Fishers - don’t even think of going without booking! They also have another branch in the centre of town (Fishers in the City) on Thistle Street, close to Princes Street (0131-225-5109).

Loch Fyne Restaurant (0131-559-3900 www.lochfyne.com) – The original Loch Fyne restaurant has been an institution on the west coast of Scotland for years- we’re now lucky enough to have a branch on our doorstep. Situated in a fantastic location overlooking Newhaven harbour with views out across the Firth of Forth- the great selection of mainly fishy dishes lives up to the reputation. The number 11 bus from town or Pilrig street will drop you on the doorstep!

The Gardener’s Cottage (0131-558-1221 www.gardenerscottage.co) – the latest addition to the dining scene-brunch, lunch and dinner (set dinner menu of 6 courses- around £35) offering a variety of fresh seasonal Scottish produce in a quirky atmosphere- originally the cottage for the gardener of Royal Terrace Gardens- and it even has vegetable patches in the front garden! You may love or hate the bench style seating plan but you’ll certainly have an experience to remember.

Aizle Restaurant (0131-556-5888 www.aizle.co.uk )- If Gardener’s Cottage is to your taste then Aizle will more than please- situated on the south side of town on St Leonard’s Street, this husband and wife team deliver a confident 4 course tasting menu, seasonal and local, which more than delivers. Open for dinner only, Wed-Sun.

David Bann Restaurant (0131-556-5888 www.davidbann.com )- 100% vegetarian but without the stereotype! Bann’s is located on St Mary’s Street just off the royal Mile. It boasts a cool contemporary interior with modern and sophisticated vegetarian menu.

The Outsider (0131-226-3131)- a very stylish eaterie without the price tag so it’s always full to the rafters. It’s located on George Fourth Bridge close to the Royal Mile and has stunning views to the castle- advance bookings needed every night of the week. This is one of my favourite choices.

Castle Terrace (0131-229-1222 www.castleterracerestaurant.com): Sister restaurant to the already successful and Michelin starred Kitchin in Leith- Tom Kitchin’s in-town offering has now gained him another Michelin star in the city. The menu follows a similar ‘nature to plate’ philosophy- for a less pricey experience try the great set lunch menu.

Scran and Scallie (0131-332-6281 www.scranandscallie.com): The latest addition to the Tom Kitchin portfolio is this fabulous gastro-pub eating option in the Stockbridge area of town (on Raeburn Place). The ‘public house with dining’ is a partnership between Mr Kitchin and fellow Michelin star chef Dominic Jack- a relaxed dining experience not to be missed if you can get a table! Top tip- if you’ve not booked in advance you may be lucky if you turn up and wait since half the restaurant is kept for walk-ins. Believe me, worth the gamble!

The Fourth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols (0131-524-8350 www.harveynichols.com )- very much a place to see and be seen- a stylish bar and restaurant for lunch and dinner with great views across the city and towards the north. Worth it for the views and the people watching- the food’s consistently good- just don’t stress if the service doesn’t quite match!

Hadrian’s (0131-557-5000 www.thebalmoralhotel.com )– ground floor of the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street. Very stylish and beautifully decorated with great food to match with a Scottish/French theme! A little more pricey but worth it for an evening to remember in Edinburgh.

Steak (0131-557-0952 www.steakedinburgh.com )- recently opened and located on Picardy Place (set back from the roundabout at the beginning of Queen Street/top of Leith Walk). If you like steak in all its guises then you’ll love this place. Cooked to your perfection with a fabulous and quirky selection of sides (truffle oil macaroni cheese!- yum!) and a great interior design which manages to make a large space very intimate.

The Tower (0131-225-3003 www.tower-restaurant.com )- a beautiful and contemporary Scottish restaurant located within the Royal Museum of Scotland (at the end of Chambers Street). It’s expensive but great and the view over the roof tops to the castle is wonderful.

The Scotsman Hotel - North Bridge Brasserie (0131-622-2846 www.thescotsmanhotel.co.uk )- This hotel used to be the home of the Scotsman newspaper until it moved into purpose built offices recently and the building became a hotel. The brasserie is the old reception area- wonderful marble columns set against a very contemporary glass staircase. Great for cocktails and the food? Great and not too pricey- ‘modern Scottish’.

Contini Canonball (0131-225-1550 www.contini.com/contini-cannonball )- located jsut before the castle with one of the best views in the city right across the castle esplanade. But that’s no the only reason to book this latest food offering from the Continis of Valvona and Crolla fame. The setting is a beautiful high ceilinged room with contemporary food to match.

The Witchery (0131-225-5613 www.thewitchery.com )- the ultimate tourist mecca when it comes to eating in Edinburgh. As a local I’d say it’s a little over- priced but worth it for the location (right next to the castle) and the interior. The best tip though is that for ambience, it’s best to eat in the ‘secret garden’!

Rhubarb at Prestonfield House (0131-225-1333 www.rhubarb-restaurant.com )- a little out of town set within beautiful grounds (peacocks on the lawn!), the is the ultimate sumptuously designed dining experience. The sister restaurant to the witchery and I reckon the ambience outshines the food- it’s still great but heavy on the pocket!

Martin Wishart Restaurant (0131-553-3557 www.martin-wishart.co.uk )- certainly one of the most talked about restaurants in town, mainly due to its Michelin star rating, and as such its reputation as a sublime dining experience. Located in Leith on the Shore- bookings always necessary!

The Kitchin (0131-555-1755 www.thekitchin.com ) - new kid on the block Tom Kitchin has created a minimal and contemporary setting for his much talked about (a Michelin star after only 6 months opening) restaurant. Situated on the Commercial Quay in Leith, the menu boasts Scottish produce with a French influence. Now that he’s a television chef too, booking is essential!

Bars

Victoria Bar/Boda Bar/Sofi’s Bar/Joseph Pearce - these four lovely bars are Swedish owned the (hint is in the décor with bar snack options to match!). The Victoria and Boda are located a little further down Leith Walk on the other side from Pilrig Street, Sofi’s is on Henderson Street just next to the shore in Leith, Joseph Pearce- the latest offering- on the corner of Elm Row at the top of Leith Walk. All have a very mixed local crowd and a lovely quirky ‘shabby-chic’ atmosphere.

The Flying Fox- half way up Leith Walk, nice mixed crowd, funky interior which spills onto the pavement on nicer days, good pub food from a small open kitchen.

The Barony Bar– on Broughton street, half way down on the right hand side. This is a very traditional Edinburgh bar with a mixed age local crowd. Worth a visit- especially for a taste of their pies!

Woodland Creatures - the latest addition to the Leith Walk pub scene- a wonderfully quirky/kitch bar with a mixed youngish arty crowd. Just opposite the Victoria Bar/Origano about half way down Leith Walk in an area that’s fast becoming a funky local enclave.

Robbie’s Bar – again a traditional local haunt just at the end of Pilrig Street so it’s easily within staggering distance! We call it the Barony of Leith Walk!

The Street – right at the top of Broughton Street on the corner. This is at the other end of the scale – a stylish coffee/drinking hang out by day and a pre-club bar by night frequented by a young groovy mixed/gay crowd.

Rick’s (0131-622-7800 www.ricksedinburgh.co.uk )- billed as a Manhattan style bar/restaurant, this epitomises up-town Edinburgh. Very contemporary décor with a busy atmosphere (which can be a little much if you want a quiet night out!- but fun if you’re lining up the cocktails for a big night!). Situated on Frederick Street between George and Queen Streets.

The Opal Lounge (0131-226-2275 www.opallounge.co.uk )- on George Street (between Frederick and Hanover Streets) is of similar styling to Rick’s. A slick bar and eaterie which has a good eastern menu.

Cocktail Bars

Panda and sons (www.pandaandsons.com ).- probably the coolest bar in town but not the easiest to find- and deliberately so! At the far end of Queen just before Charlotte Square, you’ll find what looks like a barbershop- enter, take the stairs down and go through the library door into a world of speakeasy, table service and amazing cocktails.

The Last Word (www.lastwordsaloon.com )- if you find yourself in Stockbridge (possibly pre- Scran and Scallie?) this is a great quirky basement cocktail bar to stop off beforehand. Situated half way along St Stephens Street- great dry martinis and lots of house favourites.

The Devil’s Advocate (www.devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk )- in the old town on a lovely traditional Edinburgh close (infact Advocate’s Close so hence the name!). Dark and buzzy, great for a pre dinner cocktail and also great gastro pub food.

Bramble (www.bramblebar.co.uk )- a lovely stylish darkly lit cocktail bar- at the bottom of Hanover Street on Queen Street- it gets quite busy and loud later so best to be ready for a night out!

DragonFly (0131-228-4543 www.dragonflycocktailbar.com )- not the closest drinking haunts- situated just on the other side of the Grassmarket on WestPort.  It’s worth the trip- this very groovy bar has a mixed hip crowd and quirky/contemporary interior.

Tigerlily (0131-225-5005 www.tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk ) - the latest rival to Rick’s and the Opal Lounge- also George Street- this stylish and theatrical bar/restaurant/nightclub (Lulu) is a big hit with the cocktail crowd and eye candy barflies!

Harvey Nicols- the top floor bar (on the left out of the lift)- a sophisticated atmosphere for an early evening cocktail and check the amazing panoramic window to the Forth and the north!

 

Shopping

Princes Street - the main street in town which faces the castle. Here you’ll find a mix of all the regular high street shops- Frasers department srore, Gap,Zara etc. at the west end, Waterstone’s book shop close by, M&S, and Jenner’s close to the railway station.

Jenner’s - the oldest department store in town, situated on Princes Street just opposite the railway station. Beautiful Victorian exterior and interior, and don’t miss the enormous tree that gets erected in the central atrium at Christmas time! Good for anything from high heels to haggis!

George Street- parallel to Princes street but with a much better selection of upmarket clothes shops and some good eateries.  Check out the local Cruise for upmarket men’s and women’s fashions, as well as Xile on Frederick Street for menswear, and just down on to Queen Street and Frederick, Brotique Men’s Store.

Harvey Nichols - the newest upmarket department store in town- on the north corner of St Andrew Square. Don’t miss it for fantastic designer clothes, perfumes, and gorgeous little things! It also has a wonderful roof top café with great views of the city.

John Lewis - my favourite department store in town (ok strike that, my favourite shop in the world!)- not out of any respect for their lines in high fashion (it’s not that kind of place), but because you can get almost anything here and the staff are unbelievably knowlegable. Situated at the top of Leith Walk, just off the roundabout.

Geoffrey Taylor Kilts - on the lower stretch of the Royal Mile, close to John Knox’s house. As well as a great selection of traditional tartans, this shop incorporates 21st Century Kilts- set up by the owner’s son, Howie who now produces kilts in everything from denim to pink silk and also has his own store on Thistle Street. Customers include Robbie Williams and Vin Diesel!

St. Stephen’s Street/North West Circus Place/Raeburn Place: Stockbridge area- a lovely collection of streets with a selection of shops which sell anything from antique jewellery, second hand clothes, to retro-furniture and interiors.  In particular check out Jeffrey Interiors, Dick’s Menswear and Annie Smith Jewellery over the bridge on Raeburn Place- she designs and makes a great selection of contemporary Scottish silver and gold jewellery.

Victoria Street- a downhill walk from just off the Royal Mile (near the GeorgeIVBridge crossroads).  Here you’ll find a host of small, quirky shops and cafes- from clothes to antiques and lots in between.  Check out Walker Slater menswear for amazing bespoke Scottish suiting. At the bottom, wander into the Grassmarket where you’ll also find some gems.  Look out for Hawick Cashmere if you’re feeling rich and want to take home a special sweater!

St Mary’s Street/Jeffrey Street - these streets meet each other at an intersection near the bottom of the Royal Mile- a good mix of quirky shops- jewellery, retro, clothing, flowers, gift shops (drop in to ‘Present’ on St Mary’s St for the perfect little something- and say hi to my friend Kiaz!).

Causewayside - on the south side of the city, just past the Meadows (park) this is a great street for antiques- furniture and knick-knacks- if you’re an enthusiast, it might be worth the trip!

8 Things you have to do When You’re here!

  1. Take a walk up Calton Hill- takes only 10 minutes from the top of Leith Walk roundabout and it’s the best view of the city!
  2. Have lunch or a coffee at Harvey Nicols 4th Floor brasserie. The view from the cocktail bar is an unexpected treat too!
  3. Eat in one of the city’s amazing dining choices- from the informal L’escargot Bleu on Broughton Street, Fishers in Leith, Scran and Scallie, to Rhubarb for an experience and setting to remember, to Michelin standard of The Kitchin, Martin Wishart, 21212, Castle Terrace.
  4. Take a walk along the Water of Leith- you can stop off at the Botanic Gardens, Dean Village and finally the Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery (great lunch at their cafés).
  5. If you’re not visiting in August then you MUST make a date to come back and soak up the atmosphere of the world’s biggest arts festival, which runs for most of the month.
  6. If you are visiting in August then you must return for our Christmas Festival and 5 day Hogmanay (new Year) Festival. Ice skate in Princes Street gardens with the castle as your backdrop.
  7. Take some great food home- Crombies (the best butcher in Edinburgh!) have wonderful haggis, and for an Italian experience, Valvona and Crolla (top of Leith Walk) is difficult to leave without emptying your bank account!
  8. It may sound like being too much of a tourist but the city bus tours (leaving from Waverley Bridge) are a great way to orientate yourself and get a flavour of the city- especially if you’re here for just a short time.

Tours

If you’re thinking of taking some time to explore a little further afield, we’d recommend some tour companies which get good recommendations from our guests and have a 4 star Scottish Tourist Board grading. All do either day trips or longer tours to the many beautiful locations in the north and west of Scotland. You can check them out at their web sites either www.timberbush-tours.co.uk or www.rabbies.com or www.graylinetours.com. Grayline also offer the service of a pick up from your accommodation- worth thinking about if you’re heading off early in the morning! Alternatively if you would like to consider something much more bespoke, we work with Helen Fraser of Afternoon Tea Tours. www.afternoonteatours.com. Please enquire with us and we can give you some ideas of what Helen offers.

Virgin Active

We have exclusively agreed temporary membership arrangements with the world class Virgin Active Health Club – only available to our guests. The club is located only a 10 minute walk from the guest house on the way into town – it has a great gym with all the machines, free weights and cardio equipment you’d need as well as a large swimming pool and spa. The in house health and beauty salon is also accessible for those who’d rather have a massage or get their toe nails tweaked! Just ask us for daily rates and passes for longer stays when you check in.

 

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