City guide: Why you should visit Edinburgh

Boutique hotels, hidden whisky bars and the best steak in Scotland? Count us in.

It’s easy to forget that Edinburgh is a capital city. With a population of fewer than half a million, and such beautiful scenery surrounding it, it feels more like a haven than a bustling metropolis. But, even though it may be sleepier than other British cities, there’s still much to do and see…

Edinburgh has its fair share of hotels and residences. From the many options, we love the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, situated in the city’s historic and beautiful old town, just a couple of minutes’ walk from the world famous Royal Mile and the Scottish Parliament building. With 157 elegant refurbished en-suite bedrooms, a stylish bar, luxurious spa and brand new Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburinni, this is the place to be. Rooms start from £69 p/night.

For a blend of traditional and contemporary, the G&V Royal Mile Hotel is the place to go. Situated at the intersection of some of Edinburgh’s most historic streets, this iconic hotel invokes the city’s vibrant, creative and charismatic appeal – injecting new colour into a dramatic and storied backdrop.

With beehives in the building, and herbs grown on premises to craft brilliant cocktails in the sumptuous bar and restaurant, this is a truly innovative place to lay your head – and offers rooms from the wildly affordable ‘Petite’ to the aptly and excitingly-named ‘Timorous Beasties’ Suite. Rooms start from around £140 p/night.

Although known for deep-fried Mars bars and haggis, delve a little deeper into the food offerings of Edinburgh and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Head to the exotically-named Antigua Street for a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine at Pomegranate. Opposite the Edinburgh Playhouse, this tapas restaurant is the perfect spot for a pre-theatre meal.

Over by Picardy Place, meat-lovers will meet their match in Steak, which does exactly what it says on the tin. With the best cuts in town, expert chefs will help you optimise your beef experience. Or, for something a little lighter, Bodega on Elm Row was started by two locals obsessed with American-style tacos – stuffed with flavours from Korea to the Caribbean.

As with the eateries, drinking holes are refreshingly worldly in Edinburgh. Forget tartan and tatties when you go out in the Scottish capital, and instead hear to 52 Canoes Tiki Den, a Hawaiian-inspired basement bar on Melville Street.

Similarly the Contini Cannonball Bar is a good choice, offering a selection of 120 fine malt whiskies with an unrivalled view over the Royal Mile to boot. If that’s not a big enough selection for you, however, The Devil’s Advocate boasts over 200 bottles – and can be found in an old Victorian pump house in the capital’s Old Town.

There are hidden gems galore in Edinburgh. Despite the city being famed, like the country as a whole, for its whisky, why not pay a visit to Pickering’s Gin Distillery, the first exclusive gin distillery to open in Edinburgh for over 150 years.

The Royal Observatory is also a great bet. Situated on Blackford Hill, this is a top spot for stargazers, but is a beautiful building in its own right. The castle is worth a visit, as are the Royal Botanic Gardens. And, of course, if you run of out things to do, there’s always time to pop into a pub or tavern for a dram of whisky.

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