SheerLuxe's Ultimate Edinburgh City Guide
Bryant & Mack Special Detectives
Opened in 2017, this bar is a hidden gem in every sense of the word. Tucked away down North Lane and behind frosted glass, if you make it inside you’ll be transported to the secretive world of Bryant and Mack’s private detective agency. Thankfully the hospitality isn’t as frosty as the entrance – within, warm-spirited bartenders serve up a selection of classic and inventive cocktails.
89 Rose Street North Lane, EH2 3DX
Hoot The Redeemer
New from the team behind the hugely successful Panda & Sons, Hoot The Redeemer describes itself as a ‘dive bar with a wonderful twist’. The twist is that it’s 1950s themed – but panic not, this isn’t a Grease tribute bar. Instead, you’re at a funfair; expect an ice-cream parlour, a Pinch ‘n’ Sip cocktail vending machine and cocktail slushies. It really is a hoot.
7 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ
The Last Word
The independent team behind Bramble and the Lucky Liquor Co also own The Last Word Saloon – our favourite of the trio (although all three are worth of visit). Billing itself as a ‘cocktail saloon’, The Last Word is dark and atmospheric. Anyone craving one of the team’s signature sips will be pleased to learn that they also sell their own bottled cocktails – make ours a Bottle-Aged Brooklyn.
44 St Stephen Street, EH3 5AL
Nobles Café, Bar & Restaurant
Down in the newly reinvigorated Leith, Nobles is a restored Victorian café that focuses on bringing modernity to its classical surroundings – think original stained-glass windows, dark wood-panelling and a vague nautical theme. Food focuses on traditional Scottish ingredients, while local craft ales and cocktails make this classic boozer a great late-night destination.
44a Constitution Street, EH6 6RS
Voodoo Rooms blends dining and next-level cocktails with live entertainment (including performers from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), all housed inside a opulent, gilded venue. In other words, it has Saturday night written all over it.
19a West Register Street, EH2 2AA
While the bistro-style menu at this candlelit spot won’t disappoint – they offer 40 different wines served by the glass, carafe or bottle – it’s all about the cocktails at this romantic little haunt. There’s an ever-changing cocktail list and a vast selection of champagnes to boot, but if nothing particularly tickles your fancy, expert mixologists are on hand to make anything you want, as long as they have the ingredients. Or, for curious minds, opt for a blind tasting session and discover smaller boutique wines you’ve never tried before.
55 Thistle Street, EH21 1DY
The Devil’s Advocate
Situated inside a historic Victorian pump house (expect plenty of bare brick, beams and wood), The Devil’s Advocate serves up hearty, Scottish-inspired dishes alongside an impressive cocktail and whisky menu. Whatever you do, be sure to try Bodega No.11 – guaranteed to convert any non-whisky drinker.
9 Advocates Close, EH1 1ND
In the heart of the Old Town you’ll find Monteith’s ‘Kitchen and Cocktails'. The bar staff pride themselves on offering a selection of classic tipples alongside unique creations like the Maharaja’s Express – cardamom-infused Old Raj gin, mango, lime juice, mango chutney, turmeric syrup and egg white.
61 High Street, EH1 1SR
Panda & Sons
This whimsically-named hidden bar is a cross between a prohibition-style speakeasy and a vintage barbershop. It’s known for crafty cocktail inventions and recipe tweaks, like the Super Tonic – Caorunn gin, almond syrup, fresh lemon juice, Martini Extra Dry, Angostura bitters and a dash of tangy tonic water.
79 Queen Street, EH2 4NF
This one’s so new it hasn’t even opened yet, but we have it on good authority that it’ll be ready for action by the time the Edinburgh Festival rolls around. Its first site in Scotland (and the second outside of London), the meat mecca will be opening up in the banking hall of the former RBS HQ on St Andrew Square, and is set to have 170 seats. Expect an opulent setting, cracking steaks and new locally inspired dishes, such as hogget chops and langoustine scampi.
42 West Register Street, EH2 2AA; opens July 2018
The Ivy on the Square
The Ivy empire reached Scotland in autumn 2017. Located on the prestigious St Andrew Square, The Ivy on the Square is an all-day British brasserie that has an art deco look and feel. Menus span breakfast through to late-night cocktails, with the kitchen serving modern British cuisine and international Ivy-inspired classics seven days a week. The restaurant also features a Parisian-style outdoor terrace – perfect for pre- and post-show drinks come summer.
6 St Andrew Square, EH2 2BD
The Printing Press
A relatively new dining haunt for Edinburgh, the Printing Press & Kitchen opened up last October, aiming to bring the freshest Scottish produce to the table. If you like game, be sure to try their rather special Spatchcock Borders grouse, served with red cabbage and brambles.
21-25 George Street, EH2 2PB
Ondine is a seafood lover’s paradise. Fresh oysters are served up daily – and generously – at the Oyster Bar, together with a whole host of impressive seafood dishes. Think Shetland mussels cooked in an Asian broth of ginger and coriander, and classic fish soup enhanced with North African saffron and orange.
2 George IV Bridge, EH1 1AD
The Gardener’s Cottage
Situated inside a charming, historic building in the heart of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site, The Gardener’s Cottage (which it once was) focuses on seasonal cooking and social dining, offering à la carte lunches and a six-course set dinner menu served on communal dining tables.
1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, EH7 5DX
With house-batch cocktails, craft beer, a satisfying food menu and live music sessions, it’s little wonder The Blackbird won the Scottish Style Award in 2013. If the sun shines during your visit, the beer garden is a great place to let a chilled afternoon roll out into the evening.
37-39 Leven Street, EH3 9LH
This ultra-hip, brick warehouse (once a props and costume store) serves a menu full of quality ingredients supplied by local ‘growers, breeders, producers, suppliers and foragers'. Head outside to the south-facing yard on sunny days or gather around the wood-burning stove to warm yourself on chillier nights.
10 Lady Lawson Street, EH3 9DS
This elegant boutique hotel serves a seasonal menu of Scottish dishes with field-to-fork traceability. All the food is excellent, but their specialty is afternoon tea, which includes a selection of sweet and savoury snacks served with a crisp glass of Veuve Cliquot.
12 George Street, EH2 4JN
The perfect place for a nourishing pit-stop, Urban Angel serves brunch until 5pm every single day. Try hot dishes like harissa-spiced haricot beans with poached egg, peppers and fresh coriander on toast or opt for the simple and delicious homemade granola.
121 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ
Café St Honoré
Don’t be deceived by the typically Parisian exterior – Café St Honoré serves up modern Scottish food using fresh, local ingredients. The concise (and award-winning) menu changes daily; you may start off with a warm salad of scallops, monkfish and pine nuts, followed by Scotch shepherd’s pie and rounded off with an organic chocolate brownie.
34 North West Thistle Street lane, EH2 1EA
The Witchery is located right alongside Edinburgh’s historic castle, and is probably the most atmospheric setting you can imagine for a city dining experience. Enjoy legendary Angus beef steak tartare, briny-fresh seafood platters and even some haggis (if you dare) amongst heavy tapestries and ornate wooden beams.
Castlehill, The Royal Mile, EH1 2NF
There’s a reason this Mexican gem is one of Edinburgh’s best kept foodie secrets. The menu is short and sweet yet packed full of flavour, and the dizzying array of margaritas and mezcals will leave you spoilt for choice. While it caters for walk-ins only, fear not; El Cartel is run by Bon Vivant, a wine bar situated a stone’s throw from the restaurant, so if you can’t get a table right away, you’ll be suitably looked after a mere stroll down the road.
62 Thistle Street, EH2 1EN
The Grand Edinburgh
Perhaps the capital’s most exciting opening of 2018, The Grand Edinburgh is set to offer 50 luxury serviced apartments on St Andrew Square when it throws open its doors in June 2018. Just in time for the thousands that visit Edinburgh for the festival, each apartment will sleep up to six guests and offer stylish open-plan living spaces. There’s also set to be a restaurant, café and bar, which will be open to the public.
42 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD; opens June 2018
Eden Locke is a design-led ‘apartotel’ in the centre of the capital. Designed for longer stays, each suite comes with free wi-fi, a fully equipped kitchen, a large L-shaped sofa, sash windows with views over the city and plenty of storage space. In the communal spaces, a juice bar/coffee shop transforms into a bar by night, and health and wellbeing coaches are on hand if you need to recharge your batteries.
127 George Street, EH2 4JS
The Balmoral, with its majestic clock tower, has been fixture of the city’s skyline since 1902. Adjoining the train station, it plays to its rich history as an Edinburgh landmark with porters poised to whisk guests from the station hall to the reception desk, and doormen in traditional kilts. Inside you’ll find a spa, pool and 14-year, Michelin star-holding restaurant, which, whether you’re staying here or not, is a must-visit for the Scottish Tasting Menu alone.
1 Princes Street, EH2 2EQ; Classic rooms from £365 per night
Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh
The only five-star establishment on the historic Royal Mile, this is an elegant, modern boutique hotel furnished in dramatic black and white with splashes of colour. All rooms come complete with Nespresso machines, iPod docks, LCD TVs and free high-speed Internet. Plus, there’s a spa if you fancy a massage after a day of sightseeing.
1 George IV Bridge, EH1 1AD; Petite rooms start from £194 per night
Hotel Du Vin
This historic building has a colourful history, having once been home to a poorhouse, asylum and science lab. Now it feels like a classic Du Vin, with exposed brickwork and a central courtyard serving the hotel’s quality bistro meals. It even has a cigar bothy and a whisky snug, if you’re so inclined.
11 Bistro Place, EH1 1EZ; Rooms from £104 per night
Hotel Nira Caledonia
‘Sincerity not stuffiness’ is the Nira Caledonia’s motto, and as such it appeals to a clientele of worldly travellers who value the bohemian-chic vibe and handy mod-cons. The fact that it won the 2015 award for Best City Hotel in Scotland certainly hasn’t hindered its reputation.
10 Gloucester Place, EH3 6EF; Petite double rooms from £78 per night
If a classically Scottish venue is what you’re seeking, The Scotsman might just be for you. Wooden cornicing and tartan-upholstered chairs collide with a thoroughly modern spa and fitness studio, in what used to be the original headquarters of The Scotsman Newspaper.
20 North Bridge, EH1 1TR; Double rooms from £125.10 per night
If you’re visiting Edinburgh with girlfriends or even your sister, Tigerlily has your name written all over it. This stylish boutique hotel is furnished with flashes of fuchsia, chandeliers and mirrored walls, plus it serves copious cocktails and a boozy afternoon tea.
12 George Street, EH2 4JN; Rooms from £169 per night
The Dunstane Houses
For a touch of old-school glamour, check in to the newly-refurbished Dunstane Houses, nestled in a leafy street just outside the city centre. ‘Wee’ doubles are just that but the pick of the rooms are the suites, featuring Instagrammable baths and lush, four-poster beds. The recently-opened Ba’Bar is a cosy place to linger – start the day with duck eggs and haggis followed by sightseeing and an Old Fashioned nightcap.
4 West Coates & 5 Hampton Terrace, Haymarket, EH12 5JQ; Rooms start from £174 on a B&B, double occupancy basis
The Witchery by the Castle
A glorious gothic hideaway in the heart of the city, this unusual property boasts a wonderfully bizarre collection of fantasy suites draped in elaborate velvets and enormous wooden four-poster beds. Edinburgh’s charming Old Town is right on your doorstep to explore at your leisure, but be sure to book into the theatrical dining room, for top-notch food in an extravagant setting.
Castlehill, The Royal Mile, EH1 2NF; Rooms from £345 per night
If you want to buy authentically Scottish goodies ANTA should be on your shopping hit-list. It sells tasteful, traditional fashion and home items designed by duo Annie and Lachlan Stewart, all made using materials sourced from local craftspeople.
117 – 119 George Street, EH2 4JN
Chocolate lovers make haste and get to Coco – the chocolatier that specialises in ethically-traded, organic and delicious chocolate. If you have a little more time in the city you could even try one of their day-long chocolate-making courses.
20 Raeburn Place, EH4 1HN
Get your designer shopping fix at Harvey Nics, and then visit the fourth floor al fresco terrace for a light bite and glass of rosé with a view.
30 - 34 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD
Edinburgh Gin Distillery
Burrowed beneath the stairs at 1a Rutland Place, you’ll discover something of a hidden wonderland in the Edinburgh Gin Distillery. A peculiar playground for the palate, indulge in some of the most seductive and exquisite gins from around the globe.
1A Rutland Place, EH1 2AD
Smack-bang in the middle of the city is Calton Hill – part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site which is home to the National Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument, Nelson's Monument, the Old Royal High School, the Robert Burns Monument, the Political Martys' Monument and the City Observatory, as well as some truly Instagram-worthy views.
Step inside the studio of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi – a prominent sculptor who grew up in Leith. The studio is divided into areas for different activities: desks for reading and working with paper, shelves of reference books, a large central table for modelling and working with plaster casts and a bunk for resting. A rare glimpse at the working processes and space of a celebrated, creative mind.
75 Belford Road, EH4 3DR
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Besides being a beautiful and relaxing place to wander, the RBGE is also a world-renowned centre for plant science and education. On a mission ‘to explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future’ it’s well worth a look all year round.
Arboretum Place, EH3 5NZ
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Home to a fantastic sculpture park and Pig Rock Bothy – a rustic-looking structure which plays host to a changing programme of performances, discussions, residencies and events – The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is an impressive go-to for art enthusiasts and dabblers alike.
75 Belford Road, EH4 3DR
Stockbridge Farmers Market
Stockbridge Farmers Market is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll on a laid-back Sunday, for produce, craft and tasty meals. Food vendors range from the exotic (aromatic curries) to as-Scottish-as-it-gets (wild venison and black pudding pie). Afterwards, do a spot of shopping in Stockbridge or a walk along the river to picturesque Dean Village.
1 Saunders Street, EH3 6TQ