Oh, Edinburgh. How I adore you.
If you’ve been reading the blog for a little while, you’ll probably know about my love affair with Edinburgh. After visiting many years ago for work I was enthralled with the city, which felt like a bigger, more vibrant version of my beloved York. I went back for Hogmanay 2013 and again for Jen Do last summer, but absence makes the heart grow fonder so after 6 months I found myself back again.
There was no special occasion for visiting this time – no impeding wedding or incoming New Year. I was contacted by Travelodge who asked if I’d like to stay in one of their recently-refurbished hotels, and as Edinburgh’s Queen Street location was on the list, I thought – why not? Sometimes the best trips are those without much pomp and circumstance – just you, the city and daily life.
Rob and I headed up the East Coast line from York and arrived in Edinburgh on Saturday morning. We found Queen Street easily – not only is it just off Princes Street and about 5 mins from the train station, but it’s the same street I stayed on during Jen Do, so lots of happy memories there.
Queen Street Travelodge is housed in a beautiful Georgian townhouse, perfectly located for enjoying the city without too much hustle and bustle. Inside is standard Travelodge fare, but everything feels very fresh and new. Our room was small but functional and spotlessly clean, with clever storage facilities and a Dreamer Bed which was a literal dream to sleep on. Rooms here start at £29 a night which is really quite unbeatable and perfect for a budget weekend in the city.
After dropping off our bags we headed out to explore. Edinburgh is a big city but it never feels overwhelming – you can wander about quite happily with no real plan, just taking in the sights. We walked down Rose Street and towards the Castle (which is a great landmark for getting your bearings), going up for the obligatory photos then strolling around the Grassmarket area below.
Away from Princes Street, Edinburgh has a brilliant indie scene with lots of fantastic shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. Mary’s Milk Bar is always a favourite and we came away with two milkshakes – hazelnut for me (majorly good) and beer and peanut for Rob (apparently he liked it!).
Day two dawned bright and sunny so we walked the length of the Royal Mile and decided to climb Arthur’s Seat.
Rob and I were blown away – figuratively and literally, as it was crazy windy up there! The climb is relatively tough and we were knackered when we hit the summit, but the views were totally spectacular. Nature is so awesome! It took around an hour to get there, get up and get back down again so it’s an easy trip to fit into your day, and you can reward yourself with a G&T when you’re back on the Royal Mile.
We crammed so much into our 17ish hours in Edinburgh. Here’s a little list of some of our favourite spots:
Papii, Hanover St
A cute little cafe serving brilliant breakfasts. We had Summer Breeze smoothies followed by Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles with bacon (me) and bananas (Rob). Amazing.
The Dogs, Hanover St
We went to The Dogs for dinner during our Hogmanay visit – it’s a brilliant restaurant decked out with vintage furniture. This time we did lunch – a perfect macaroni cheese for me and a chicken and leek pie for Rob. So, so good.
The Basement, Broughton St
We stumbled upon The Basement on Saturday afternoon and stayed for a few hours, loving the dark and cosy atmosphere… and the G&Ts! They make guacamole to order right at your table which was fun AND delicious.
Lovecrumbs, West Port
Lovecrumbs was by far my favourite stop on our trip. It’s been recommended to me many times and I can’t believe I didn’t visit earlier – a gorgeous vintage-style cafe stuffed with eclectic furniture, hanging plants and retro curiosities, serving delicious cakes and frothy coffees.
Lucky Liquor, Queen Street
This seriously cool bar serves up weird and wonderful cocktails in a 50s Americana setting – I had a gin and orange cocktail in an actual lightbulb. Great atmosphere, too.
Bramble Bar, Queen Street
A bit further along Queen Street is Bramble Bar – a gin bar with plenty of cosy alcoves to curl up in… although I was more inclined to dance to the old school hip hop.