A cosmopolitan city with something for everyone
Scotland’s capital is a truly cosmopolitan city that has something for everyone.
Split between the medieval old town and Georgian new town, there are many attractions, beautiful gardens, stunning architecture and vibrant nightlife.
Of course, each August it is also home to the world’s largest arts festival – The Fringe.
After last visiting Edinburgh in the depths of winter more than a decade ago, it was nice to come back and enjoy it in the glorious sunshine.
One of the easiest ways to get there from the Midlands is by train and within four-and-a-half hours we had travelled from Birmingham New Street to Edinburgh’s Waverley station using Virgin Trains.
First class tickets allowed us to take advantage of the Virgin Trains lounges at both stations, offering complimentary drinks, snacks and newspapers. Travelling there and back, food and drink was also delivered to our table, there was free wi-fi, plug points and through the BEAM app we could watch a selection of films, TV shows, read magazines and play games.
Having arrived in Edinburgh, it was a short taxi ride to where we were staying at The Knight Residence by Mansley – five-star serviced apartments in the heart of the old town.
It currently has 32 apartments but there are plans in the pipeline to increase this number.
It has picked up awards for its customer service in the past and it is easy to see why.
We were welcomed and shown to our apartment by Rowan who talked about the city very enthusiastically and told us where everything was.
Our one-bedroom apartment had a comfy bed and sofa. The kitchen appliances included a washing machine and dishwasher. There were also bathrobes, slippers and a safe in the wardrobe, and guests are welcome to bring DVDs to their apartment from bookcases on the ground floor. A nice touch was the free-to-use ‘travel buddy’ in our room which had information on attractions and discounts or could just be used as a normal smartphone to make free calls, view maps or take photos during our stay. We were also given a breakfast basket containing cereals, jams and shortbread, there was bread in a breadbin and milk, orange juice and butter in the fridge.
During our two-day trip, one of the busiest areas we visited was in and around Edinburgh’s iconic castle, a short walk away from our apartment.
The queues can get long here to see the crown jewels but it is also worth visiting to watch the loud and impressive firing of the one o-clock gun, which was met with reactions similar to a fireworks display.
The Royal Mile, running from the castle through the heart of the old town, was also bustling with people visiting the many restaurants, shops, pubs or watching street performers.
There are actually a lot of attractions free to visit in the city, including the National Museum of Scotland which is home to Dolly the sheep and has a fantastic interactive science and technology exhibition where you can see how robots work or even launch a hot air balloon. Although a bustling city, we also saw a more tranquil side with the Princes Street Gardens a popular spot to relax and there were great views of Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat from Calton Hill, which itself has numerous historic monuments.
The city has a vast range of restaurants and one definitely worth a mention is Taisteal in the Stockbridge district.
This restaurant, which has been included in the Michelin Guide, AA Guide and the Good Food Guide, uses local Scottish produce combined with ingredients and culinary techniques from around the world.
The name means travel and chef Gordon Craig takes inspiration from all over the globe.
The setting is modern and the staff were friendly and attentive.
For starter I ordered the gin-cured salmon, octopus, watermelon, avocado crème fraiche and feta. It was very fresh, tasty and the flavours worked well together. I ordered the roast rump of lamb for main which came with pulled lamb kataifi, parmentier potatoes, baba ganoush, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and red onions. The lamb was tender and the whole dish was delicious. The peanut butter baked Alaska, which was a special addition to the menu, was the perfect way to round off a great meal.
With so much still to do and see in this cosmopolitan city, I’ll be sure not to leave it so long this time before I return.