When my two London-based teammates and I were planning our next team meetup last January, Scotland seemed like a natural location… of course it didn’t hurt that both Meredith and I have wanted to visit the country for as long as we can remember! We worked from Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, for a week, eating, drinking, and exploring or way through town when we weren’t working, and then Meredith joined me for a week to tour the Highlands and Isle of Skye (more about those to come), followed by one final evening back in Edinburgh before the two of us flew out.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city, full of history, architecture, natural beauty, and delicious food, and although Meredith’s time there was sadly short, we were still able to see, do, and eat plenty. The following are a few of our favorite parts of the city, both from my week working and then our day together. If you’re visiting Edinburgh, we highly recommend that you check out these places!
We decided to splurge a bit on the final night of our week-long trip to Scotland with a stay at The Balmoral, the historic landmark hotel located right in the heart of the city. Aside from the fact that JK Rowling finished writing the Harry Potter series at The Balmoral, the highlight of our brief visit was the nod to Scotland’s own Sean Connery in the bathroom (see below) and our warm welcome from Richard the oft-photographed kilted doorman.
The views of Edinburgh and its neighboring towns from the top of Calton Hill are truly unforgettable. The hill itself is home to various monuments and historical buildings, including the headquarters of the Scottish Government. It even overlooks Arthur’s Seat, rumored to be one of the possible locations of the fabled Camelot.
It’s hard to imagine a more quintessential castle than that of Edinburgh’s. Set at the end of the ‘Royal Mile’, on top of a wall of cliffs that rise almost from nowhere in the center of town, it’s a focal point of the city and a constant reminder of the history of the place. Home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland and some more fantastic views of the city, the castle is worth a tour if you don’t mind the touristy rush. However, if you’re in the mood for something a little quieter, spend some time walking through the Princes Street Gardens below the castle.
Water of Leith & Royal Botanical Garden
If you’re like us and you feel a little overwhelmed by the crowds of the Royal Mile and Princes Street, head north and get lost in the New Town neighborhoods between the Queen Street Gardens & the Royal Botanic Gardens. A leisurely stroll along the Water of Leith only adds to the serenity of this quiet city escape.
I enjoyed my first meal at The Dogs with my teammates so much, that when faced with only one dinner in Edinburgh once Meredith and I returned, the choice was fairly obvious. The Dogs is wonderfully low key, with its sparse second story flat and eclectic collection of tables, chairs, dishes, and cutlery. In fact, the most uniform part of its design is its homage to the owner’s dogs (which made Meredith and I feel right at home). During both trips, our meals were fantastic, concentrating on flavor and taste over presentation or formality, and leaving us in the perfect mindset for a leisurely stroll back to our hotel.
Easily some of the very best Indian food we’ve ever had, Khushi’s was another find from our trusty Where Chefs Eat book (where we discovered essentially all of the places we ate in Edinburgh). We were ravenous after the long drive from Skye and noticed that the only conversation we shared during our lunch were the proclamations of how amazing our meals were. If Indian cuisine is in your plans for a trip to the UK, Khushi’s should be your destination!
One day for lunch, my teammates and I decided to spoil ourselves with a prix fixe meal at chef Tom Kitchin’s namesake, The Kitchin. Concentrating on locally-sourced ingredients (to the extent that they provide a map with your meal’s sources around the United Kingdom), the restaurant executed every part of our meal to an exacting precision. Three delicious courses later, we plopped ourselves down around the comfy bar to have some coffee and reminisce about the tasty meal we’d just devoured
Sadly, Leo’s Beanery didn’t open early enough for Meredith and I to stop by before our flight out of town, but my breakfast here the week before was tasty enough that we figured it deserved a mention. A New Town neighborhood eatery, tucked away in the basement of one of the neoclassical city blocks, I recommend that you stop in for a traditional Scottish full breakfast (bacon, eggs, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, sausage, and tomatoes), or some lighter bakery fare.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.