Edinburgh, the charming and hilly capital of Scotland, is a delightful destination catering to a diverse range of travelers. With its blend of medieval Old Town and neoclassical New Town, iconic landmarks along the Royal Mile, and fashionable boutiques lining Princes Street, the city invites exploration.

In this exploration, JS contributor Chelsea Stuart delves into the allure of Edinburgh’s iconic pubs, opulent tea rooms, majestic castles, and intimate hotels, providing a comprehensive guide to the must-visit gems for every type of traveler. Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of this captivating Scottish city.


Cannonball Restaurant & Bar: Managed by an Italian restaurant group but rooted in Scottish history, Cannonball sits at the pinnacle of the Royal Mile, just before Edinburgh Castle. The three-story restaurant and whisky bar bear witness to centuries of stories, from the Jacobite Rebellion’s rumored gunshot lodged in its wall to its diverse roles as a castle keeper’s home, tenement house, school, parliamentary office, and practice space for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Today, the modernized eatery blends tradition with contemporary flair, offering classic Scottish dishes like dry-aged Scottish Highland beef, haggis with pickled turnip, and an extensive selection of over 120 malt whiskies.

The Palm Court at The Balmoral Hotel: Recognizable by its sky-high clock tower overlooking Princes Street, The Balmoral stands as a cherished landmark on Edinburgh’s terrain. Within its walls, Number One offers Michelin-starred dining, while The Palm Court boasts the city’s finest afternoon tea, earning acclaim and awards. Allow yourself the luxury of time to immerse in the opulence of the Palm Court—complete with a soaring glass dome ceiling, a Venetian chandelier, exotic palms, Calton Hill-themed wallpaper, and the accompaniment of a balcony-perched harpist. Savor vintage champagne, delicate finger sandwiches, ornate petit fours, and freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, complemented by an array of loose-leaf teas.

Ondine: Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Ondine pays homage to the city’s fishing heritage by offering an array of shellfish sourced directly from Scotland’s eastern coast. While rooted in tradition, the menu surprises with fusion dishes, such as Shetland mussels in an Asian broth of fermented ginger, black bean, and coriander, and razor clams accompanied by Iberico chorizo and Sicilian lemons. As you await your culinary delights, indulge in the panoramic views of the historic neighborhood that Ondine’s dining room generously provides, adding a visual feast to the gastronomic experience.


The Glasshouse, Autograph Collection: At The Glasshouse, Gothic architecture seamlessly merges with modern design in this boutique hotel housed within a 160-year-old converted church. Ideally located just off the Royal Mile and Princes Street, the property places attractions like St. Giles’ Cathedral and the Palace of Holyroodhouse within easy walking distance. While exploring the surroundings is tempting, take a moment to appreciate the onsite offerings, including a two-acre rooftop garden with panoramic views of Calton Hill. For a relaxing nightcap, head to the Snug—a bar and lounge wrapped around an inviting open fire.

Nira Caledonia: For a luxurious and intimate experience, Nira Caledonia beckons from a Georgian townhouse in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town. The boutique hotel’s uniquely designed rooms and suites blend classic and cosmopolitan elements, featuring high ceilings, twin windows with flower-boxed views, ornate cornices, goose down pillows, and more. When ready to explore, a downhill 10-minute walk leads to the shops, gardens, and pedestrian walkways of Princes Street.

Radisson Collection Hotel, The Royal Mile: Positioned between George IV Bridge and Victoria Street, bridging Old and New Towns, this recently refurbished boutique stands as the only five-star hotel on the Royal Mile. The sophisticated yet trendy rooms, categorized as ‘Petite,’ ‘Signature,’ and ‘Deluxe,’ boast bespoke fabrics, smart walk-in rain showers, and skyline views. The eclectic suites, uniquely crafted by Scottish artists, fashion, and textile designers, showcase bold colors and avant-garde artwork. The hotel pays homage to its Scottish locale with distinctive touches, exemplified by the tweed-kilted doormen.


The Devil’s Advocate: Nestled in a Victorian pump house along Advocates Close in Old Town, The Devil’s Advocate is a hidden gem amidst the narrow Royal Mile alleyways. With over 400 types of whisky, both Scottish and international, this bar and kitchen creates an atmospheric experience with brick walls, wooden beams, and soft lighting—a testament to the impeccable aesthetic of the Bon Vivant Group. While renowned for its whisky selection, the award-winning bartenders showcase their skills in crafting exceptional cocktails. Don’t miss the High Tea in Hong Kong, featuring green tea gin, sustainable lemon oleo, and hopped grapefruit bitters.

Edinburgh Gin: Amid Scotland’s whisky fame, Edinburgh Gin has led the country’s gin renaissance since 2010. Operating from central Edinburgh and nearby Leith, this progressive small-batch distiller invites you to their atmospheric West End locale. Take part in a gin-making tour where, guided by an Edinburgh Gin distiller, you’ll delve into the distilling process and craft your bespoke spirit using a miniature copper still, along with an array of aromatics and botanicals.

The Sheep Heid Inn: Situated in the heart of the city, The Sheep Heid Inn stands as one of Edinburgh’s oldest and most charming watering holes. Esteemed by past monarchs and poets, this historic spot offers classic cocktails, craft beers, ciders, soda-based ‘softails,’ and elevated dishes beyond typical pub grub—think salt and Szechuan pepper squid or caramelized fig and whipped goat’s curd pizza. During warmer months, the outdoor area transforms into a lively beer garden, providing the perfect setting for a relaxing and enjoyable experience.


Palace of Holyroodhouse: Positioned at the conclusion of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Baroque Palace of Holyroodhouse has served as the official residence for the Kings and Queens of Scots and the British monarchy (during visits to Scotland) since the 16th century. Present-day visitors have the opportunity to tour the state apartments, gardens, galleries, and throne rooms that once accommodated historical figures like Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie. The palace continues its significant role, hosting Queen Elizabeth II during her royal visits to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle: A visit to Edinburgh is incomplete without exploring the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Perched atop Castle Rock at the highest point of the Royal Mile, this historic fortress has played a pivotal role in Scottish history since its construction in the 12th century. Serving various purposes as a royal residence, military barracks, and garrison, the castle offers tours of St. Margaret’s Chapel, David’s Tower, James VI’s birth chamber, and the royal apartments. Don’t overlook the poignant dog cemetery, paying tribute to the British Army’s regimental mascots.

Royal Yacht Britannia: For over 40 years, the Royal Yacht Britannia functioned as the Queen’s royal floating residence, accompanying her and the royal family on global journeys, covering more than one million nautical miles before decommissioning in 1997. Now permanently berthed in Edinburgh, visitors can explore the yacht’s state apartments, royal bedrooms, crew’s quarters, engine rooms, and more.

Arthur’s Seat: Nestled within Edinburgh is the remarkable natural feature, Arthur’s Seat, the primary peak in the 640-acre Holyrood Park, situated atop an extinct volcano. Accessible from multiple directions, the grassy slopes and walking trails offer a hiking experience within the city. Ascend to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views of Edinburgh’s skyline and the nearby Duddingston Loch.


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