Edinburgh has come to be one of my favourite cities in the last few years. Not only is it renowned for its literature connections, it’s one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. We first visited when I was in my teens for a big family trip, then we went again for my best friend’s hen weekend. And then this year, I took Harvey for his 29th birthday in January. Now that we’re a little older and have been together for almost four years, we prefer to gift experiences over presents, especially as his birthday is two short weeks after Christmas.
So, with a goal in mind to reduce our travel carbon footprint in 2020, I booked us a pair of return tickets to visit Edinburgh by train! It was an absolute dream to travel by train to Scotland. I hadn’t quite appreciated how beautiful the UK can be until we zoomed up and up the country, watching as lush green rolling hills, fields and farmyard animals passed us by. After a five-ish hour journey, we arrived at Edinburgh Waverley train station mid-afternoon and disembarked, ready for a walk to our hotel.
I booked us two nights at the beautiful Eden Locke Hotel, which is centrally located on George Street. If you’re new to the city, this is a brilliant spot to stay on as you’re tucked just far enough away from the bustling Princes Street and comfortably close to Rose Street. It means you’re surrounded by bars and restaurants, and you’re in great walking distance from many of the key tourist attractions.
What drew me to book Eden Locke for our stay was that it’s an apartment-style setup. Each room is a mini suite, and alongside your bedroom and bathroom, there’s a living area, dining space and perfectly sized kitchenette. For me, this was a huge draw because it meant we’d have a proper place to come back to and relax in the afternoon and it meant we had the freedom to potentially make our own food if, for some reason, there weren’t any brilliant vegan options nearby.
We’d 100% recommend Eden Locke. Not just for the reasonable pricing and excellent location, but for the smaller details. The décor is elegant and understated; a washing machine means you can arrive home with freshly laundered clothes; the bed is SO comfy; the coffee shop in-house is a dream; the room even comes with a yoga mat, for gods’ sake, so you can keep up your fitness regime! It’s a hotel that pays utmost attention to the finer details, even the ones you didn’t realise were important.
I mean, what would a Daisybutter travel post be without an extensive food section?!
Now that we’re vegan, extra research around food options is paramount to ensuring a smooth trip. Thankfully, Edinburgh has plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians; we were only sad we didn’t have more time there to try them all! Dishoom might sound like a counterproductive place to visit, given we wanted to try lots, but as our nearest Dishoom is in London Kings Cross, we jumped at the chance to a) try their vegan breakfast menu for the first time, and b) visit Dishoom without queuing. Perched on St. Andrews Square, the Edinburgh branch is elegant, light and airy inside. We ordered the Beyond Sausage Naan Roll (one each) and Soy Keema No Eedu without the egg (to share), along with a cheeky bottomless oat milk chai for me. I keep joking that that should be my new name! As ever, it was truly delicious and I can’t wait to head back for that naan…
We also went to Paradise Palms, for an obligatory holiday junk food fix. This was a fair walk from our starting point — Calton Hill — but it was SO worth it. The extensive menu is completely vegetarian and the place itself is super cute, with a secondhand shopping area and gig space. It’s worth noting that it’s directly opposite the Edinburgh University student union so it’s a fairly student-y vibe, but if you can get past that, then the food and drink selection is on POINT. We picked the Southern Fried Seitan, Onion Rings, and Meatballs, Fries and Gravy, and it was SO delicious. Greasy, perfectly flavoured and just-enough junk to keep us going. I’m definitely heading back here the next time I’m in Edinburgh.
On the day of Harvey’s actual birthday, we popped over to Leith for I’d booked us a table at Harmonium for dinner. Leith was so adorable too, and we’re totally going to make a point of spending a little more time here the next time we visit. With rave reviews and a really varied menu, we were pretty excited to eat at this all plant-based restaurant. Tofish and chips, vegan chicken parmigiana, surf ’n’ turf, pizzas, pho and salads featured alongside your usual vegan burgers, etc. and I was SO excited! However unfortunately when we arrived, we were told over half of the menu was unavailable because they’d been experiencing problems in the kitchen all day. It was disappointing, particularly because we’d booked a table, and they could’ve 100% told us in advance. And the meal I ordered — mac and cheese — was completely flavourless and overcooked. (Harvey’s burger was apparently delicious!)
Considerit featured heavily on recommendations from you guys when I posed the question on Instagram. This doughnut shop is again in what seems to be the more student-y end of town, and it’s totally worth the trek. Everything is vegan, and you can even build an ice-cream doughnut sandwich, which is what I did! The interiors left a lot to be desired when we visited (January 2020), but I’m sure they’ll be renovating properly soon.
Harvey and I’s travel style is pretty much: locate food and coffee, find outdoorsy places, fill in the gaps as we go. With my trusty Google Maps full of the above food haunts and more, we enjoyed a fairly chilled weekend of walking to major sights and just enjoying being together. One of my favourite places was Calton Hill, which I’d visited before with my best friend. From here, you can enjoy a panoramic, almost birds’ eye view of the city and beyond. It’s an easy walk and the views are just glorious.
Can you believe that of the three times I’ve been to the city, I’ve never once managed to make it inside Edinburgh Castle? One day… It’s surprisingly really, because I just adore visiting castles and museums (another thing I’m yet to do in Edinburgh). However we did walk up to the castle and down the Royal Mile. We wrapped round Grassmarket and Victoria Street — wonderful magical Victoria Street! — and I noted down endless places that I’d to visit next time. That fabled next time(!)
Last but certainly not least, we headed over to Dean Village for an afternoon. It’s literally the stuff of fairytales! We didn’t do much here aside from gawp at the adorable buildings and die slowly from the steepness of it all, but next time I’d like to do a little more research into what’s around. Perhaps a cute coffee shop!
Whew! What a bumper post. This ‘postcards’ post isn’t a full travel guide, but I’m hoping by our next visit, I’ll be able to share a comprehensive address book of places to bookmark!