Ah, Edinburgh, Scotland, you stole our hearts.
Last year, I was asked to speak at the PRFest in Edinburgh and jumped at the opportunity…as did my husband. So, we planned five days around the conference to explore what has become one of our favorite cities.
Where To Stay
When it comes to researching places to stay, I’m the queen. I’ll spend hours every night reading reviews (what’s up, TripAdvisor?!) and putting together spreadsheet comparisons. Yep, I’m that person.
Needless to say, I had a difficult time deciding whether to stay in New Town or Old Town Edinburgh. But when I landed on Angel’s Share Hotel, I knew we found our place.
Angel’s Share Hotel is only a block off of hopping Princes Street, which somewhat divides Old Town and New Town. It is the perfect location because it’s on a quiet side street, yet you can walk EVERYWHERE.
The rooms are named after famous Scottish celebrities (we had the Sir Chris Hoy room) and although they aren’t huge, they’re really beautifully decorated. Ours had a step-down from the bathroom to the main room with a lot of natural light.
The hotel’s bar/restaurant is fantastic. The Angel’s Share name refers to the small amount of alcohol that evaporates out of whiskey barrels during maturation, and the bar’s drinks do not disappoint. The food is also wonderful; we booked a table the night of our 11th dating anniversary, which also happened to be steak night (#homerun). The booths are roomy, yet romantic (think Old Hollywood glamour), so it’s perfect for date night.
Fun fact: Bellfield Brewery was doing a private beer tasting experience for Father’s Day at the restaurant while we were there, so I surprised Doug with tickets, and it was incredible!
Things To Do In Edinburgh
I’ll cut to the chase: there are a gazillion websites and blogs that will review the hot spots to visit:
- Edinburgh Castle
- Elephant House
- Arthur’s Seat
- Old Town
- The Royal Mile
- Palace of Holyroodhouse
- The Real Mary King’s Close
- National Museum of Scotland
I’m not going to go into detail on any of these places, but you can see some of our cool pictures below.
Do you want to know the real secret behind enjoying Edinburgh as a couple?
Let it rain. Try to stay away from the crowds. And eat and drink to your heart’s content.
Not necessarily known for beautiful weather, surprisingly, most of the days we were in Edinburgh were sunshiny. But man, when it rained, it poured. And I feel like the Scottish rain laughed at the paltry U.S. rain jackets we brought.
Have no fear! The U.K. brands make outdoor gear like no other. Particularly, Barbour and Joules. We put a hurt on both in Edinburgh and the only souvenirs I purchased for myself were from the Joules store on George Street (a phenomenal shopping, eating and drinking street around the corner from Angel’s Share). I bought a new rain jacket and several pairs of boots, as pictured here during our trip to the Highlands (more on that later):
Getting back to the rain in Edinburgh, it was actually a blessing in disguise. We were forced to keep ducking in and out of quaint pubs and restaurants, giving us the opportunity to try places we otherwise would have walked right past.
The gem of the trip? Rose Street, which also happens to be a block away from Angel’s Share (see, I told you it was the perfect spot!). Word is, Rose Street used to be used for the service entrances to mansions along both Princes and George Streets which flank it on either side. Now, it’s a cobblestone wonderland of great pubs and restaurants, perfect for a rainy afternoon or evening with your loved one.
Some of the pubs we had a drink or two at include:
There is something so romantic about taking a stroll in the rain together and just popping in and out of whichever pub you feel like visiting. We particularly liked Dirty Dick’s (I know, not the best name) because it’s cozy, candlelit and the bartender we had over the course of several days was very personable.
More Places To Eat And Drink in Edinburgh
We love food. And sampling drinks. So, hang on tight, because here are our other recommendations as to where to eat and drink in New Town, Edinburgh (plus one Old Town hot spot):
- Ryan’s Bar is across the street from Angel’s Share, and we had breakfast and/or just a cup of tea or coffee here every day.
- Mather’s Bar is also across the street from Angel’s Share and was my hubby’s dream come true. He wanted to find a place with old, Scottish men watching some sort of sport and pretty much just serving beer. This is it. No music, few chairs and lots of older men for him to make friends with while I was at my conference.
- Zizzi has phenomenal pizza, pasta and vegan options. It’s just around the corner from Angel’s Share and we ate here a couple of times during our trip.
- Dough Pizzeria, oh how we love you. If you’re visiting some pubs on Rose Street, stop in and place your order when you’re about 30-60 minutes from wanting to head back to your hotel. Go out for a drink, come back and pick up your pizza, go back to your hotel, eat said pizza and give me a shout out for recommending Dough. Enough said.
- The Huxley looked a bit too upscale for us from the outside (it’s right next to the Waldorf Astoria), but we were invited here for a few drinks with my new friends from the conference and really enjoyed the ambiance, appetizers and service. It’s–you guessed it–across the street from Angel’s Share.
- Just past Zizzi is Foundry 39. We stopped in for a beer one afternoon and dinner another night. The burger and fries were unreal!
- Devil’s Advocate. My, oh my. The only place we really ate in Old Town, it is worth the wait. If you can only get a reservation at 4:30 as we did, take it. And then smile when you have to wait at the bar for 30 minutes while the staff gets your table ready. The Devil’s Advocate was recommended by our Flytographer photographer (more on that later) and these pictures were taken across the alley. So, the romanticism of this hidden gem must have oozed out into the street. And, to be honest, I have no idea what we ate. We just went on the recommendations of the waitstaff and EVERYTHING was off-the-charts good. Although it seems like a hidden gem, make reservations!
Other Edinburgh (and Scotland) Activities
Because I had a couple of days at a conference, my hubby had some solo time. In advance of our trip, for his birthday, I set up a few things for him to do while I was busy:
- A day pass to PureGym Edinburgh Exchange Crescent, just down the road from Angel’s Share. He’s big into working out, so I figured it would give him something to do for an hour or two during one of my conference days. I ended up going with him one day and it was a nice, clean gym with a good variety of machines and weights.
- The Invigorated Break For Men spa day at the Waldorf Astoria (across from Angel’s Share). He had several spa treatments with all-day access to the hotel’s pool and health club, and he reportedly spent about four hours there, so it must have been wonderful!
- Edinburgh to the Highlands bus tour via Lothian Motorcoaches. Because I get motion sickness, I was REALLY worried about taking a small bus or van for an entire day, so I was thrilled to find Lothian. The trip did not disappoint! The motorcoach picked us up and dropped us off right outside Angel’s Share (most tours pick up and drop off in Old Town, which would have been a hike for us at 7am) and had WiFi and USB charging stations at each seat. The Highlands were so breathtaking that my pictures don’t do our trip justice and the windy roads made me extremely happy I chose a bus tour over a van. We also stopped at Loch Ness, so of course, we had to go on a tour to look for Nessie! We are already planning a Highlands camping trip with our girls, and can’t wait to go back.
Must-Do In Edinburgh
Probably one of the best things I planned for our trip to Edinburgh was book a Flytographer photographer. No more awkward selfies. No more pictures full of tourists in the background. Just us, for the first time since our wedding day, almost 10 years ago.
Wow, what a romantic experience. Although we only booked a 30-minute session, our photographer, Jilli, was unbelievable. On top of being amazingly talented (I mean, look at the snaps below!), she was an excellent tour guide, giving us the history of Old Town Edinburgh as well as some wonderful recommendations (see Devil’s Advocate above).
After our Flytographer experience and especially after seeing our photos, I will never, ever take a couples or family trip again without booking a Flytographer photographer.
And boy, do I have a treat for you: use my Flytographer referral link (here) and get $50 off your first photoshoot! They are located in hundreds of cities around the world, so be sure to check out the site before you head off on your next adventure.
If anything, this Edinburgh trip taught me to be flexible with plans. I’m a planner and particularly when I’m visiting another country, I have a checklist of must-see sights and must-dos. Because of the rain and, well, just wanting to enjoy a relaxing place with my hubby, we got to see and experience things that weren’t on my “list.”
If you’ve been to Edinburgh, what are some of your favorite spots? Comment below!