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A Mini Break to Edinburgh

Author: Lisa Soeno

… And just like that, Christmas Day was over! If you’re anything like me, then you’ll be spending much of Twixtmas (that funny period in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve) curled up on the sofa munching on Cadburys Miniature Heroes and googling 2019 holidays. One place I would love to go back to is Edinburgh: the last time I was there was NYE 2013, when I was pregnant with Lyra. When reader Claire’s email dropped into my inbox it brought back all the memories (I second Claire’s recommendation for Stockbridge – such a quaint, pretty and chic suburb), and made me want to get straight on a plane. Without further ado I’ll hand you over to Claire and her itinerary for a mini break to Edinburgh.

After I scored a couple of work trips to Edinburgh late last year, my boyfriend was particularly envious and we decided to book a weekend in March to get us through the winter. In fact, we booked it on my birthday as we arrived back from an overnight at Bedruthan Hotel & Spa in North Cornwall. Is anyone else always planning another trip even before you’ve been on next one?!

Easyjet make it incredibly easy to get to Edinburgh from all over the country, we flew from Bristol. Our initial weekend peak time flights, Friday at 1630 to Sunday at 1900 cost us a mere £50pp. Although I was bitterly disappointed that the beast from the east snowstorm meant our flights were cancelled, Easyjet are complete stars and allow you to rebook your flights at no extra cost. We decided to book for the May bank holiday and saved £160pp had we booked them afresh.

We’re always looking at ways we can maximise our leave together, as I get twice as many leave/flexi days as my other half, J. By heading up at 0730 on Saturday and returning at 1730 on Monday, we effectively had three full days in Edinburgh. This saved money on a third night in a hotel, and we were back at a reasonable time to be fresh enough for work the following day.

A Mini Break to Edinburgh {Our Itinerary}

Saturday

The long-awaited tram system makes it incredibly easy to get from the airport to the city centre in around 30 minutes at a cost of £8.50 return. We love staying at Airbnbs when away but realised to our peril when on a mini break to Lisbon and Porto last year that a hotel gives you the ability to drop your bags early and store them on the day of your departure.

We chose to stay at the Hub Hotel by Premier Inn on Rose Street. The hotel rooms are ships’ cabin size, although we paid a little more to have space to walk around both sides of the bed! We decided to save on the hotel as we would be out the entire time and would rather spend the money on entertainment. Staying in the Princes Street area means you are in a perfect location for public transport, minutes from the tram, the main bus route and Waverly railway station. If money was no object, I can recommend the George Hotel having stayed there with work several times.

Bags dropped, we headed for brunch at Broughton Deli, before starting our exploration of the city. I recommend starting with a walk up Calton Hill at the end of Princes Street. There are so many monuments up there and you get fantastic views of the city, castle and out to the Firth of Forth.

We then walked down to pass Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament and onwards up the Royal Mile passing all the touristy sites. There was even a May Day march complete with pipe band – J thinks this is what Scotland is like all the time! A detour to the National Museum of Scotland (free entry) is entirely worthwhile and head to the roof terrace for the views. We also stopped to see the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a famous story of a loyal dog who visited his master’s grave every day for sixteen years. We had our first drink of the holiday in the Grassmarket to refresh us for the walk up to Edinburgh Castle. We didn’t bother going in, I’ve heard it is disappointing. From the castle, we walked down past the Scottish Museum of Modern Art, picking up a picnic from M&S to enjoy in Princes Street Gardens, by the Scott Monument. There is nothing like a cheeky gin in a tin with baguette and cheese! After this we had to fit in a quick snooze at the hotel thanks to the 4am start!

We started the evening at the Café Royal Bar and Guildford Arms, both beautiful historic Edinburgh pubs that are off the main drag enough to still feel like they were frequented by locals. We made dinner reservations at Aizle several months ahead for my first expensive dinner experience. At £95 a head for five courses and paired drinks, it was a special treat but we loved it. Twenty seasonal ingredients are displayed on a blackboard but there are no menus. Nine plates of delicious food arrived over the course of 2.5 hours and we revelled in the excitement of wondering what might come next. They can cater for dietary requirements and it was lovely to feel like my vegetarian menu had been given just as much consideration.

Sunday

Sunday started with brunch at the beautifully stylish Continis on George Street before a stroll down to the trendy Stockbridge area. I admit we furtively followed the walk suggested in the Lonely Planet city guide, in reverse so it wasn’t as obvious! I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am an actual tourist! There is a great little Sunday morning market which had so many foodie options, but we were full from brunch. Next time! I picked up a print of the cityscape as I love collecting prints as memories from our trips. Don’t miss seeing some of the most exclusive addresses in Edinburgh, Ann Street and Dean Terrace, plus the Colonies, which were built for workers but are now highly desirable.

We headed back to the hotel to freshen up and I made a quick trip into Oliver Bonas to buy one of the gorgeous yellow handbags I’d seen here on RMS a few weeks before!

Public transport in Edinburgh is so good, be sure to download the Lothian Buses app to help you get around anywhere for a flat fee of £1.70 (exact change needed). We took the bus to Ocean Terminal to visit the Royal Yacht Brittania. It was incredible, especially if you enjoyed seeing her on the Netflix series The Crown. Pre-book tickets to skip the queue. It’s a fantastic asset to the city and has been voted Scotland’s best visitor attraction twelve years in a row.

Staying in Leith, we were then in an ideal location for bar hopping. Leith has seen a lot of regeneration since Trainspotting days. I can recommend

Teuchtar’s Landing – try the Isle of Harris gin for the freshest, smoothest gin that has a hint of the sea The Roseleaf – for ‘pot-tails’ (cocktails served in teapots)

Toast – for a drink or sharing board on the waterfront

Nobles – a traditional bar with beautiful stained glass and model ships

We also wanted to try the Lioness but didn’t make it there!

A last-minute text to my uni friend asking for pizza recommendations took us to Origano on Leith Walk. It had an incredible atmosphere, exposed brick walls and a wood fired pizza oven. We feasted on an antipasto board, pizza and tiramisu as well as delicious bottle of
pinot grigio!

Monday

We are keen cyclists (mostly to work or the pub, nothing too adventurous), and we find it a great way to see a new city whilst giving my delicate feet a rest. We covered 23k steps on both Saturday and Sunday! I booked a bicycle tour ‘From sky to sea’ with Tartan Bike Tours. Super friendly Johan collected us from our hotel and drove us out of the city to the edge of the Campsie Hills. From there we took a gentle downhill ride following the Water of Leith. Cycling provides a great way to see areas of the city you wouldn’t have found otherwise. The tour ended very near to our hotel, allowing us to change and head for a tasty meze lunch at MezeMeze. It doesn’t look much from the outside but I’ve enjoyed many meals there during work trips to the city.

We definitely packed a lot in, I’ve never slept that well on a flight! I’d love to hear your recommendations for Edinburgh as we think we’ll be back with friends next time!

Are you a fan of Edinburgh? Is anyone heading up there for Hogmanay?

{Contributors}

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Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
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2 thoughts on “A Mini Break to Edinburgh

  1. I feel privileged that I get to call beautiful Edinburgh home! Such a great city. All fab recommendations above, here’s a few more to add to the mix:

    Food – Ting Thai Caravan for delish Thai street food style, Baba for Middle Eastern tapas and Dishoom for Indian breakfast.
    (But Aizle recommended above is the best meal I have ever had and worth every penny).

    Shopping – Broughton Street has a few great little independent shops – Life Story for beaut skandi homeware and Narcissus for dreamy florals.
    Bruntsfield is another cool neighbourhood with boutiquey shops and great coffee spots.

    Further afield – If you’re there for more than a couple of days I’d recommend heading out of the city – The Pentlands are stunning hills on the outskirts that make you feel like you’re in the Highlands, and North Berwick is lovely for a wee day trip – a stunning beach and lots of cute shops for mooching.

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