The Concise and Opinionated Guide to the City
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Our Edinburgh NTK – February 2020
Every so often, we like to add a Need-to-Know for our favorite cities. With a new year and new decade upon us, it’s time to mention the newly-approved “hotel tax” that will soon be charged to visitors in Edinburgh. (If you’re staying in a serviced apartment instead, this still applies to you!) We want you to know what you’re up against, especially if you’re the type of person who hates to read the fine print.
Also called a “tourist tax,” it is separate from the regular city tax that will be applied to your bill and is paid directly to the proprietor. It will most likely be accepted in cash pounds only so be prepared. How much will it be? Beginning sometime in 2020, visitors will be expected to pay £2 per person, per night. One more thing… if you book through Expedia or some other hotel website, your grand total will not include this special extra tax. You’ve been warned!
Night owls rejoice – January 2020
If you’re one of those people who just comes alive at night, Edinburgh in January is for you! Being a northern city, the winter daylight hours run from about 8:30am to 4pm giving you plenty of darkness to run around in. Don’t worry, the temperatures only get down into the high 30’s so it’s not that bad, and their multitude of quaint pubs will be going strong. Nothing like a hot toddy to warm your cockles. We recommend the gorgeous Deacon Brodie’s Tavern located just a stone’s throw from the famed Edinburgh Castle. Say hello for us!
Where to enjoy an amazing holiday dinner – December 2019
We love having a meal with a festive menu at holiday time, and in Edinburgh that means the Rhubarb Restaurant at the Prestonfield House Inn. Their special three-course menu will be offered throughout the month of December but must be booked as soon as possible while tables are still available. Note that this amazing mansion hotel is a ten minute taxi ride from the old town. Here are the main courses offered:
Roast pheasant breast, confit pheasant leg and black pudding pithivier, sage and onion barley risotto, roast Granny Smith apples, cider jus
Blade of Scotch Beef Wellington, Arran mustard pommes mousseline, skirlie, braised leeks, pickled turnips, Madeira jus
Seared cod fillet, romesco crumb, saffron gnocchi, spinach, broccoli, blood orange butter sauce
Roast butternut squash, muhammara, tabbouleh, barrel-aged feta, mint and coriander dressing
Join a special Christmas walking tour – November 2019
Edinburgh lights up for the holidays and its charming Christmas Markets should not be missed. Now you can join a walking tour of its best holiday sights, including a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm your cockles. If you’re sentimental about the holidays, don’t miss it. Offered November 20, 2019 through January 6, 2020 but you’ll need to book ahead! A 24-hour cancellation refund is offered in case your plans change.
Explore the creepy underground vaults of Edinburgh – October 2019
Our recommendations for Edinburgh in autumn would normally include music events or new restaurants, but our new series of “Bored In” travel books have inspired us to go in a spookier direction this year. Below is one of the scary things you can visit that will be included in the upcoming Bored in Edinburgh–Awesome Experiences for the Repeat Visitor:
Below Edinburgh’s South Bridge area (one of the oldest sections of town) lies a series of disused underground vaults from the 1700’s. You can tour them at night when they’re at their spookiest and rub shoulders with the spirits that dwell there. With an informative guide from Mercat Tours, you’ll brave the dark passageways and hear historic tales in a way that only a true Scot can tell them. You’ll see excavated spaces, previous human habitation, and even a tavern with wine vaults. This 75-minute walking tour of subterranean Edinburgh even offers a special Halloween tour of the vaults but you’ll need to book as soon as possible though their website here.
It’s the start of the social season in Edinburgh – September 2019
There’s a lot going on in the Scottish capital so if you’re planning to visit during the fall season, snag a ticket to something soon. We recommend the new play by David Greig, Solaris, which will be performed at the gorgeous Lyceum Theatre. As of this posting there are still tickets available.
In addition, Edinburgh’s Doors Open Days takes place on the weekend of September 28th and 29th. You can see places you can’t normally get into, like the famous Assembly Rooms or the historic Drumsheugh Baths Club which dates from the late 1800’s. Booking for all visits and events started on September 2nd and the extensive list can be found at this website.
How to stay afloat in Edinburgh – August 2019
If you’re heading out to our favorite city in Scotland and haven’t made your hotel reservations yet, consider a stay aboard a ship permanently docked in the Firth of Forth! The Fingal, a stunning decommissioned ship (stationed very near to Her Majesty’s Royal Yacht Britannia) in the suburb of Leith might be just the kind of unusual experience you’ve been looking for. Consider staying there for a night or two, just to take it all in and make some very special memories. Then switch to another hotel in Edinburgh’s city center. We won’t tell. “An exquisite five star, twenty-three cabin boutique hotel complete with ballroom and sweeping grand staircase.” Just look at those pictures!
In Focus: the Tolbooth Tavern – July 2019
The famously haunted Tolbooth Tavern is both a historic sight and a great place to grab an ale. Built in 1591, it used to be part of the official tollbooth of the Canongate neighborhood’s administration and was at that time outside the gates of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Located on what is now called “the Royal Mile” (the main boulevard of the Old Town) it is closer to Her Majesty’s Holyrood palace than it is to the city’s famous castle. Even so, it’s worth a stop and offers all the traditional pub food you could want. You might just make a new friend there, from this century or a previous.
In Focus: Edinburgh’s Peacocks – June 2019
Peacocks in Edinburgh? You betcha. They stroll around the lovely grounds at the Prestonfield Manor House, home of the exquisite restaurant Rhubarb. This place has the best Afternoon Tea service in town to begin with, and as you bite into a just-baked scone, a peacock walks by outside the window. Amazing! (Rhubarb’s afternoon tea is offered everyday from noon to 7pm.)