A luxury guide to Edinburgh: The best hotels, restaurants & attractions
When it comes to the UK’s best cities, few are quite as fascinating as Edinburgh, in Scotland. This UNESCO World Heritage site is awash with elegance and has been a leader in cultural and academic science for centuries, and with medieval tenements of the Old Town, the grace of Georgian New Town and a thoroughly cosmopolitan vibe, it’s an intriguing place to spend a few days exploring.
Perhaps best known for its rich history, Edinburgh is about so much more than that alone, and with a thriving café culture, vibrant nightlife and a strong contemporary art scene, there’s plenty of variety to fill your weekend with. There are lots of events happening here throughout the year, too – from jazz festivals to foodie events – so there’s no such thing as a bad time to come.
Visiting Edinburgh in style is certainly not hard, and the city is brimming with luxury five-star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and an excellent selection of high-end shops. Those looking for a little more privacy will find that there are also plenty of luxurious Edinburgh flats to rent for a long weekend, each offering their own touch of opulence and strikingly individual identities. Just head to Airbnb to take your pick.
One of the most exciting cities in Europe, Edinburgh deserves to be celebrated in all its glory. Here’s how to see it the luxury way.
Where to stay
Whether you’re looking for sumptuous furnishings, decadent dining options or indulgent spa treatments to elevate your stay to the next level, Edinburgh has got the hotel for you.
The Waldorf Astoria is a place of high standards from the word go; expect to be greeted at the door by men in top hats and shown swiftly to your opulent suite. The ‘Castle View’ room offers breath-taking views over the city, while the high-end, cloud-like mattresses promise the best night’s sleep of your life. With facilities including a swimming pool and Guerlain spa, it’s a relaxing and comfortable place to base yourself for your time in the city.
Meanwhile, to feel like true royalty, try the neo-Renaissance Balmoral. Its lofty clock tower has been recognised as one of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks for more than a century, and with its lavish bedrooms and the recently refurbished Palm Court, which offers indulgent champagne afternoon teas, it’s well worth splashing out on for the weekend. Foodies will be delighted to find that the hotel also boasts Michelin-starred eatery, Number One – one of the best restaurants in the city, and offering a mouth-watering culinary experience you’re unlikely to ever forget.
Where to eat
Including the afore-mentioned Number One, which is certainly worth making a booking for whether or not you’re staying at the Balmoral, Edinburgh offers a total of 4 Michelin-starred restaurants, and countless others that are in hot pursuit of the coveted status.
On the city’s Leith waterfront, head to The Kitchin. Fanatical about seasonal cooking, head chef Tom Kitchin runs his restaurant according to the ‘nature to plate’ philosophy – meaning all food served here is fresh, local and of the very highest quality. The Kitchin presents modern British cuisine influenced by French cooking techniques, and was born of an appreciation of the finest ingredients available from Scotland’s natural larder.
Also nearby is the sought-after Restaurant Martin Wishart, which again places an influence on locally sourced ingredients. Born and raised in the city, Martin is one of the UK’s most respected chefs – making his restaurant well worth a visit if you have the time.
Paul Kitching’s 21212 restaurant, meanwhile, has received rave reviews and numerous awards since it opened in 2009. Set in a beautiful listed Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace, it’s elegant, sumptuously decorated and offers a unique and mouth-watering menu, to boot. Think contemporary French cooking with an unusual twist.
What to do
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city, and is perhaps one of the most iconic and breath-taking sites to see. The Palace of Holyrood House is also a must-visit whilst in Edinburgh, and once home to Mary Queen of Scots and now the official Scottish residence of Her Majesty the Queen, this baroque palace is opulence at its best. Open throughout the year, it stands at the end of the city’s Royal Mile, and a private after-hours tour – complete with a glass of champagne – is undoubtedly the best way to take it all in.
When in Scotland, it would be rude not to indulge in the Scotch Whisky Experience, and whether you’re a connoisseur of the amber nectar or are only just starting to become acquainted with it, it’s an opportunity you won’t want to pass up. Featuring the world’s largest collection of Scottish whiskies, take a tour and pause to taste some of the finest offerings. Be careful not to get too carried away, though; in a place like this, it’s easily done.
The designer shopper will be in their element in Edinburgh, and Multrees Walk, a dedicated luxury retail hub, should be your first port of call. Trawl designer stores including Mulberry and Louis Vuitton – then head to nearby Thistle Street, where you’ll find a range of unique, one-off boutiques.
From history to high-end hotels, restaurants and shops, Edinburgh has got it all, so if you haven’t considered taking a luxury staycation in 2019, now is the time to start. Wrap up warm and come armed with an open mind, because this awe-inspiring Scottish city is sure to win a place in your heart.