The BALANCE guide to Edinburgh
It may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Scotland, but there’s an up and coming wellness scene with people heading to the capital in search of hiking and health kicks.
How to get to Edinburgh?
A real upside is, though it’s quite far north, there are lots of transport options, from under five hours on the train to an hour’s flight from London . (The tickets are not cheap, so we recommend booking far in advance.)
Where to eat in Edinburgh?
Though Scotland has a particularly strong traditional pub offering, all with dark woods and interesting back stories (our favourite has got to be Cafe Royal), sometimes you need something a little less heavy. That’s where we’d recommend Burr & Co for brunch or just coffee, Henderson’s Vegan Cafe for lunch and The White Horse Oyster Bar for dinner. With a range of fresh seafood small plates, the Royal Mile restaurant is the perfect place to take cover from the grey and the service is impeccable. We’d recommend the seared tuna, crab scotch egg and crayfish and lobster salad, with the organic Pinot Grigio. For (optional) after dinner drinks, The Dome is worth a pop-in for the ‘Grammable lilies and Wes Anderson-esque interior.
Where to relax in Edinburgh?
The capital is not short on spas and salons. The Principal on Charlotte Square has a full (and plant-filled) spa and gym where you could happily spend a day mooching. Or Zen is a good place to head for massage or manicure. It’s not exactly relaxing but, for a wellness boost, check out REVIV, the new IV therapy space in Harvey Nichols. Take a book though as some of the drips take up to an hour. If you want to kick back a little less stationarily, book into a class at one of Tribe Yoga’s three studios.
Where to stay in Edinburgh?
George Street, though not cheap, is probably your best bet for proximity to the centre and sights. The Principal, the old Caledonian Insurance Company, is a beautiful old building with a cafe, Burr & Co, and restaurant, The Printing Press, attached. Rooms are plush — huge beds and dark wood furniture give them a cosy but fancy feel (as did the cute welcome hamper!); the bathrooms are luxe, with ‘Gram-worthy white metro tiles and old-style fittings; and the breakfasts (with a choice of buffet or menu and a range of coffees) are the perfect start to a busy day out. The staff are particularly friendly and accommodating (and smiley). Also, it’s a good place for wedding watching as the old hotel is rented out for events — particular fun guessing who was the drunkest of the guests at breakfast the day after.
What to do in Edinburgh if it’s sunny
Walking up to Authur’s Seat is a must for the bonkers view and a chance to breathe in the countryside. Ticking the hike hype box (so LA), it’s a nice walk out of the centre and up to the peak — and, though it can be done in Birkenstocks, we’d recommend trainers as it gets a little stony near the top. Then just wander around the city — up to Grassmarket, where there’s usually some pop-up food stalls and the best vintage shop on the planet, W. Armstrong & Son, and through the park near Waverley Station and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
What to do in Edinburgh if it’s rainy
Maybe it’s the earthy-toned stone, but Edinburgh is a city that suits the rain — and there are loads of things to entertain oneself if it’s a little grey out. The Royal Scottish Academy (where the Rembrandt is just finishing) and The Scottish National Gallery are pleasingly un-jammed most of the time. The National Museum of Edinburgh is free and well worth a visit if you’re a dabbling history buff, as is the castle — though the latter is worth doing when it’s at least not pouring as there are fun outdoor bits.