Edinburgh is city break paradise. Here’s our dream luxury itinerary for just 24 hours in Edinburgh, short enough to leave you wanting more, but definitely long enough to sample the best of this stunning city.
00.00 Sweet dreams
You’ll need what Scots call a ‘long lie’ to prepare for the busy day in store, so switch the alarm off, and nestle deeply into your downy bed at The Scotsman Hotel. The Scotsman was once the prestigious headquarters of the newspaper of the same name, and still bears many of the original features, despite having long since exchanged the rattle of typewriters for the clinking of champagne glasses. Situated right at the intersection of the Old and New Towns, The Scotsman offers 5-star luxury in just the right spot.
10.30 Full Scottish
If you opt for brunch outside the confines of your hotel, you could do worse than heading to The Huxley, a bar and lounge situated at one end of Edinburgh’s Princes Street. The ‘Full Scottish’ breakfast (basically full English but with the addition of haggis) is a fortifying calorific treat, but for the less daring they do a delicious eggs Benedict.
11.30 Shop till you drop
If you find yourself in need of some retail therapy, head to the New Town. On Princes Street you’ll find grand old Edinburgh institution Jenners (think a more intimate Harrods), and running parallel, George Street is stuffed with designer boutiques, from Royal jewellers Hamilton & Inches to perfumiers Jo Malone. At the end of George Street, St Andrews Square will lead you to Edinburgh’s new high-end shopping zone Multrees Walk, where Harvey Nichols sets the tone for a host of other designer stores.
13.30 Ladies (and gents) who lunch
Bearing your shopping bags, you won’t have to go far to find sustenance. Simply head to the top floor of Harvey Nichols to enjoy the ‘Forth Floor’ brasserie, complete with stunning panoramic views of Edinburgh’s New and Old Towns, and the Firth of Forth beyond. Or if you prefer an authentic Edinburgh institution, you can pop into The Dome on George Street to be dazzled by the opulent interior. This restaurant is so popular it doesn’t take reservations, but the experience more than justifies a short wait.
14.30 Be thoroughly spoiled
After ditching your bags, it’s time for a pamper. With a nineteen meter infinity pool, an inviting rooftop hydro pool, rainforest showers and a thermal suite offering a range of heat treatments, you could do far worse than head to The Sheraton Grand’s rooftop spa.
Those in your party who prefer to imbibe rather than to revive, may wish to investigate the city’s Scotch whisky culture. Edinburgh features a host of whisky shops and whisky bars, with Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar and ‘Scotch’ at the Balmoral offering the widest selections, with 400+ and 500+ whiskies respectively.
17.00 Time for tea
If all those treatments have made your body feel a little too temple-like, why not spend an enjoyable hour over an indulgent afternoon tea? As in London, Edinburgh’s iconic hotels compete to offer the finest experience, and we love The Caledonian (now Waldorf Astoria) with its Peacock Alley, offering a stunning location for this most British of traditions. Or you could try ‘new’ challenger, ‘Colonnades’ at The Signet Library. A dedicated ‘tea salon’, this venue has garnered universal rave reviews since it opened last year.
18.00 The Royal Mile
It’s time to surrender to your inner tourist and take a saunter up or down Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile, the scene of so many historic events, where you can hear the famous Scottish pipes and wander the cobbles, peering into mysterious closes and being seduced by cashmere and tartan. Bear in mind that in Winter it will already be dark by this time, so you’ll have to slot this in earlier. One of the many beauties of Edinburgh is that everything you could wish to see is within easy reach on foot.
20.00 Dine in style
After a change of clothes, head off to sample more of Edinburgh’s culinary delights. With more restaurants per head than anywhere else in the UK, you really are spoiled for choice when it comes to dinner. For a wonderful French bistro experience in the heart of Edinburgh, we recommend Café St Honore, tucked away on an unassuming cobbled New Town street. Alternatively, for unadulterated luxury, try No. 1 at the Balmoral Hotel. No. 1 not just in name but in nature, the restaurant’s delicious blend of Scottish and French cuisine has earned it a Michelin star for 12 consecutive years.
22.00 Explore the local nightlife
Neckties abandoned and hair let down, get out and explore the city’s nightlife. Tigerlilly on George Street offers a beautiful and sophisticated environment for evening cocktails, and to continue partying into the wee hours, one need only head downstairs to Lulu’s, the venue’s small but perfectly formed nightclub. Alternatively you could wander up the road to HRH Prince William’s favoured haunt, The Opal Lounge. Should you prefer the tinkling of the ivories to thumping baselines, you may wish to visit ‘Fingers’ piano bar on Frederick Street, a raucous late night haunt that will have you roaring your favourites before finally closing at 3am.
We hope you enjoyed your whirlwind 24 hours of luxury in Edinburgh, and as the Scots say, ‘Haste ye back!’.
Douglas Walker is Chair of Unique Venues of Edinburgh.