After a long week of paperwork and house forms to fill in, Scarlett and I took the train, via Kings Cross St. Pancras, to Edinburgh. It was set to be a new experience for us both, as we had never been anywhere even close to the northern region of the United Kingdom, however after being told numerous times by lots of different people who’d been before, we decided we should definitely sample our very own taste of it.
After the four hour train journey we arrived in Edinburgh and instantly as I stepped off of the train, I breathed in the fresh air. I think living in and around London you get accustomed to the pollution we have in our air, so it was a nice little surprise to know we were spending our time in a clean and less polluted place.
Character and features
Making our way through the cobbled streets and across bridges we admired the history that still existed in plain sight for all to see and enjoy. Most of the buildings, features and statues were accessible and not closed off to the general public which was nice. I could draw comparisons to London, however it was a lot less busy and frantic. Edinburgh strikes me as a relaxed place where all the locals are very friendly, however it has enough culture within it to draw crowds from not only around the United Kingdom but from around the world.
Where to eat
We were based in the centre of the the City for the duration of our trip and found ourselves very at home straight away with an array of restaurants – ranging from your more locally found restaurants which served local reared foods and traditional Scottish dishes in addition to world cuisines such as Italian. One in particular was Divino which was found in the Old Town.
The Italian served food within a dimmed lit and quite exclusive downstairs restaurant which was a nice little get away for Scarlett and I to relax after our long train journey, with a glass of wine each and a main course at a rather late 9pm. After spending several hours travelling, what better way to fuel up then visit the best claimed Italian in Edinburgh, definitely a place I would recommend if you like your wines and good quality food. I chose the 28-day matured Sirloin Steak as I felt it would fill the rather large gap that had developed in my stomach. Scarlett went for the slightly lighter option of the Stone Bass complimented with spicy chilli mange-tout.
If you’re looking for a good gourmet steak house, then Kyloe is the place you’ll want to visit at least once. For me, it was a place to remember as we were introduced to all the steak that they had to offer and how to best enjoy them. We felt that we were in a very posh restaurant but without that pretentious atmosphere. It was very chilled out and relaxed with great service and incredibly tasty food. The décor was very thematic, with cow hide booths and wooden barrel lamps – even the walls were emblazoned with quirky cartoon cow portraits, which certainly provided a talking point. It seemed the perfect place to unwind after a busy day – with great food and memorable surroundings.
After a tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience – if that’s your kind of thing, you can refuel at their in-house Amber Restaurant. Although cafe like in appearance, the food is deceptively good and we had a hearty lunch accompanied by a few glasses of prosecco. I opted for the Lamb Shoulder hot-pot, which was recommended by the waitress and very tasty.
If you want something a little different, I can whole-heartedly recommend Chaophraya – a fine dining Thai restaurant with an authentic touch and incredible food. The décor is very luxurious, accompanied by an amazing view of the city from the third floor location. The front entrance is slightly hidden away – so make sure you keep an eye out for the logo, since it really is a unique place you won’t want to miss out on. The cocktails are pretty special and the pork rib appetiser was the best I’ve ever had, sizeable and sumptuous.
Where to stay
The Old Town Chambers was our choice of accommodation during our trip, which had a very contemporary feel to it – something I appreciate since I am styling my own home soon and always looking for inspiration. Rather than being a typical hotel, which is our usual choice of base for our weekend getaways, on this occasion, we decided to try a serviced apartment – something we’d both heard rave reviews about. This way, we could have a little more independence, especially as they come with the addition of their own kitchen – a home away from home.
Situated on a steep hill overlooking the famous Princes Street, we had a fantastic view where we could make a plan of action for the day from the comfort of our bedroom window. Although the block is made up of individual apartments, there is a small reception and friendly concierge service, who were full of advice for what to see, do and where to eat. It is definitely the place you’d want to stay if you are looking for ample room and additional facilities such as a gym, in addition to being in a great location to see all the gorgeous sights of Edinburgh.
Everyone was very polite and kind to us, it felt very much the same type of atmosphere that we experienced when we visited Wales – I felt I could relax in the chilled out vibe that Edinburgh emits. I found the locals to be very helpful when we got slightly lost, they couldn’t do enough for you, which made us feel even more at ease and at home in the city.
What to see
I mean to be honest you can’t really escape the history of Edinburgh, I could turn 360 degrees pretty much anywhere where we were staying and could easily find something new and exciting to explore. It reminded me slightly of London, with huge, tall buildings dotted around everywhere. It would be hard to pick out all of the individual places you can visit, however I think Edinburgh Castle is a must, you can’t really miss it as it dominates the highest part of Edinburgh and it’s nothing short of amazing! It’s a must if you are going to visit.
The Scottish Whisky Experience was different, we entered into a fun-fair themed ride, we were shown the whole whisky making journey from beginning to end and production of the Scottish blends. Finding out that Scarlett and I actually finally found something we shared a different opinion on was what flavour of whisky we preferred – Scarlett being speyside and I the Islay. We were led into a room in which we were shown how to best enjoy your whisky, learning what was meant by body, colour, smell and taste. Admiring the 3,000 plus bottles of Whisky that were in the room, the largest collection anywhere in the world of Scottish Whisky.
Almost every shop you can see, displays an array of Scottish tartan, which was something I found quite admirable as the Scottish were still proud of their heritage. So it was nice to see that they were proud of their clans. It all gave it a bit of a special feel to the place, with every corner you went around a new bagpiper belting out a song for all to hear, crowds gathered and were a bit in awe of the all round experience of Edinburgh.
How to get there
You can drive, fly or take the train to Edinburgh – however we preferred the latter option, of hopping onto the railway and relaxing for the duration of the journey. Virgin Trains offer a regular direct service, with returns starting from £30.
Would I go back?
Yes without a doubt, I would, the place was clean, historical and rather pretty. I don’t feel as though I experienced all of what Edinburgh has to offer in our short 48-hour trip and I believe this is why I would go back again. It was so chilled out, definitely a break from the bustle of London and how busy and frantic is can sometimes be. It’s nice to get away and I couldn’t help but think when we were travelling up and back from Scotland witnessing the rolling countryside that it was indeed a special place. The trip itself put to bed my opinion of it and I feel it has a lot more to offer than I first thought.