London has always been my “go-to” for a city break. But after last weekend, I think Edinburgh has surpassed England’s capital as the place to go.
We arrived on a Friday lunchtime to a surprisingly dry Scotland, and walked the stone’s throw from the station to the Radisson Blu Edinburgh.
Situated right on the Royal Mile, you can be immersed in the centre of Edinburgh in seconds, and the Scottish breakfast they serve is one of the tastiest I have had – complete with haggis, of course.
The four of us decided to take a walk down the Royal Mile as our first port of call, which stretches from the castle down to Holyrood Palace.
The street is packed with tartan stores, whisky shops and beautiful architecture, including St Giles’ Cathedral and historic tenement buildings.
It wasn’t long before we heard bagpipes serenading the visiting crowds – AC/DC’s Thunderstruck was a particularly wonderful choice of tune – and we rambled around indoor markets and cricked our necks looking up at the architecture.
After an amazing night’s sleep, we hopped across the road to our next accommodation, the Old Town Chambers.
Nestled in a hidden square, these self-catered luxury apartments have been created inside the former Old Town chambers, with exposed brickwork and steel girders creating centrepieces in the rooms.
We stayed in two one-bed apartments, which we could have happily lived in.
With a huge bed, beautiful decor, smart TV and Bluetooth sound system, there was a small kitchen fitted with a dishwasher and washing machine, and a bathroom fit for a king.
Our apartment was perfectly situated for our next trip to the Real Mary King’s Close.
This historic tour is an absolute must-see.
With a tour guide in character, you go underground and take a look at the preserved housing before modern Edinburgh was built over the top almost 200 years ago. Full of tales, it is no wonder TV’s Most Haunted made it one of their paranormal destinations. I wouldn’t want to be down there by myself.
As the Saturday was an unusually hot day for Scotland, we decided to go on our own impromptu Harry Potter tour. Just off the Royal Mile is The Elephant House coffee shop where JK Rowling wrote Chamber Of Secrets and The Prisoner Of Azkaban.
We then walked five minutes to get to Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, which is an amazing Gothic churchyard in the centre of Edinburgh.
Greyfriar’s Bobby, a famously loyal Skye Terrier, is also buried there, which is a real tear-jerker when you see that visitors have left sticks on his grave.
But also in the graveyard is the resting place of Thomas Riddell and apparently Alastair Moody as well, giving Rowling the inspiration for her characters.
I think this tour, along with the Scotch Whisky Experience complete with tasting and whisky glass, were a true highlight of our weekend.
What also surprised us was the amazing food we were lucky to stumble upon.
Element, in popular Rose Street, provided us with an incredibly delicious meal – make sure to order the sticky toffee pudding – with atmospheric surroundings, but if you want pure luxury head to the Waldorf Astoria.
The Pompadour by Galvin is a Michelin- starred restaurant serving up mouthfuls of intensely flavoured food in a truly luxurious setting. With fresh Scottish food and amazing wine to boot, we revelled in the palatial surroundings.
I can’t express enough how much I loved this city, and I could carry on talking about it until the cows came home. Perhaps you will have to create your own stories when you visit?