From the Royal Mile to the heights of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh is a city that has a lot to offer. I was lucky to visit during the last week-end of July, few days before the mythical Fringe Festival begins. I am somehow unlucky to miss it as it is one of the biggest events in the United Kingdom. However, during my 3-days-trip, I had the opportunity to visit some of the main touristy attractions in Edinburgh combining them with my own tastes and my own preferences on things to do and where to stay. So this, is my Edinburgh!
City: Edinburgh, Scotland
Where I stayed
The number of places to stay in Edinburgh is fairly decent as there are enough hotels and hostels for all genres. But the offer is so diverse that there are also apart-hotels which are something between an airbnb and a hotel with a very important slice of luxury. This combination is blending in the huge 2 bedroom apartment where I stayed at the Old town Chambers.
The Old Town Chambers occupy the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town of Edinburgh with 50 apartments, all distinctively unique from each other. I stayed on a historical part of it as some apartments are located on a 15th century house. I was on the first floor but it was already enough to enjoy a stunning view over the New Town and see some iconic features of Edinburgh’s skyline such as the wheel. I stayed on a 2 bedroom apartment, even though I was alone, I found it really refreshing to have lot of space for myself. The design is very simple but still, very luxurious. Everything was perfectly fitting: from the double smoked French oak wooden floor to the integrated advanced heating system. And from the Italian tiles to the high-tech Bose entertainment system and Smart TVs in the living room, the standard room and the master room.
The master room has a King size bed which was always hard for me to leave. I got used to it so quickly! The bathroom is equipped with Cowshed amenities which were on my plans to take home but a small card says customers are free to use it but are kindly invited to buy some at the reception instead of taking those at the apartment. Anyway, I just noted the name of those products because I never had shampoo of such quality before. Furthermore, the kitchen has a Nespresso machine, oven, micro-wave and all equipment to cook and even a dishwasher for all those dishes I am lazy to wash!
Overall, I had a great stay at the Old Town Chambers. It really felt like being at home with 5 stars service. I would recommend anyone to stay there. One more reason is that it is at the heart of the Old Town, few steps away to the Royal Mile. I counted it, it takes 35 seconds to get there.
For more information about the Old Town Chambers, check out their website here.
What I did
Edinburgh is full of things to do. And for a week-end, it is especially easy to fit in a thing to do for every two hours. That’s what I kind of did, including, few hours naps at my apartment when required.
This is one of the most iconic views over Edinburgh. This hill is also home to several other monuments like Nelson Monument and the National Monument which will definitely reminds me of Athens Acropolis. The view is simply amazing and it is easily accessible from Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Edinburgh Castle is at the top of the Royal Mile so it is not easy to miss as most crowds head to its direction. It is also possible to see the castle from different angles of the city especially from the New Town where it stands really high up in the skyline of the city. Anyway, I got into the castle for a small walk. I was a little bit disappointed because it was extremely full of tourists for no apparent reason. All I am trying to say is that it does not meet my expectations given all the fuss about it. It is however home to a stunning Medieval architecture and also home to several other attractions within it such as chapels and museums. But my highlight from the castle visit is the view from it. A cracking view over the city like nowhere else.
Nelson Monument is at the middle of Calton Hill. It offers a great 360 degrees panoramic view over Edinburgh. There are few steps to climb but it is rewarding. There is also a small exhibition inside this 1816 building. It does somehow look like a lighthouse.
This street is the centre of the Old Town, it is actually one mile long which makes it a central place for tourism, shopping and entertainment. It is home to many emblematic buildings such as The Real Mary King’s Close and St Giles Cathedral.
The New Town is just as busy as The Old Town. It is however busy with shops and retail stores and looks like an important transit in the city as many buses, trams and taxis stop there. Princes Street Gardens are a big part of the city centre of Edinburgh as they offer a green space to sit back and relax. I was lucky with the weather during my stay in Edinburgh so I did enjoy some breaks at the garden.
Even though it was raining and I was fully soaked, this is by far one of my favourite experiences in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is actually an extinct volcano so this makes the adventure more interesting. There is a fair amount of climbing, mostly on uncomfortable rocky stairs but it is rewarding getting to the top. There is a view of Edinburgh and its surroundings like Leith and Portobello. It is a 360 degrees view from the middle of Holyrood Park. I recommend for those who are brave enough for a bit of exercise on the climb.
Museum on the Mound
Outside the museum, it says on a small billboard: “Have you ever seen £1 million?”. I understood that this museum offers this exclusive opportunity. Since it is free to get in, I did not hesitate any minute. I went in looking for £1 million. Before reaching to it, I found some interesting things in this exhibition which is part of the Bank of Scotland building. Anyway, I got to the £1 million which was all in £20 Scottish banknotes. It was a strange feeling to see as much money. So I would recommend this small and free attraction in Edinburgh.
Tucked inside the Old Town, this area of Edinburgh is very vibrant with many bars and restaurants. I went there for a French crepe which was quite nice to enjoy on one of the benches at the main square. I also noticed there was a small market in this area.
Back to London
After my week-end in Edinburgh, I took a train back to London. But it was not an ordinary train, it was an overnight sleeper train. I was on the historic Caledonian Sleeper for a fantastic journey back in time with a smooth arrival to London. This is definitely one of my highlights in the UK! I will let you know more about my train journey from Scotland to London on a separate blog post in the near future.
Disclaimer: This trip is sponsored by This is Edinburgh: The Official Guide to Edinburgh. I am very thankful for their support but all views are my own. The same applies to Old Town Chambers and Caledonian Sleeper.