TOP 10: EDINBURGH
Way back when (well, only two years ago) I attended Edinburgh University, spending four spectacular years studying in this beautiful city. Last weekend I headed back with five of my best uni buddies for a nostalgic trip. Now I want to share some of my favourite places with you...
1) COFFEE - Cairngorm
A new one for us located just off George Street. We spent a hungover Sunday morning in here reviving ourselves with caffeine. Another good coffee spot is Wellington Coffee which sits just under Penhaligons on George Street.
2) BRUNCH - Peter's Yard
Setup by a friend's dad, this unique Scandanavian cafe/bakery is a place i've really missed visiting. It has two locations - one by Quartermile and one in Stockbridge. Whichever one you go to you must try a baked good with your excellent coffee. My personal recommendation is the Cardamom Bun.
3) WALK - Calton Hill
For the best views of the city leave the well-trodden path of Arthur's Seat for the hiking fanatics and head up this hill instead. A much shorter walk - which doesn't require a pair of walking boots - and great for a picnic on an, admittedly rare, sunny day.
4) SHOP - Armstrong's Vintage Store
Vintage clothing isn't everyone's bag but it is a treasure trove of a shop you have to pop your head into! Best items to source in here are ANYTHING for a fancy dress party, real fur coats and cashmere jumpers.
5) LUNCH - The Outsider
Ask anyone of my university friends and they will unanimously tell you that this is their favourite restaurant in the city. Many a birthday was celebrated in here! The lunch menu is delicious and surprisingly cheap. It is always busy so make sure you book ahead.
6) GIFTS - Demijohn
On the steep, curved street down into Grassmarket definitely visit 'The Liquid Deli'. A wonderful place to grab a one-off gift of flavoured liquors, whiskeys, oils or vinegars. It is a pleasure to shop here as you can try before you buy - I drank a lot of tasting shots of the Ginger Wine! The staff fill your glass jar (you can mix your own concotions) and then personalise it with a message of your choice.
7) COCKTAILS - The Devil's Advocate
Another addition to the food and drink scene since our uni days. Located on a tiny cobbled street just off the Royal Mile, this bar/restaurant is small but perfect for a drinks date or cosy Sunday lunch during winter.
8) DINNER - Chez Jules
A very relaxed classic French bistro, Chez Jules is an un-fussy, reasonably-priced place ideal for a quiet night with good food and wine. The menu is pretty extensive and very reliable - I would usually go for the poisson du jour.
9) DANCE - Lulu's
One of the smarter clubs in Edinburgh, you can always rely on Lulu's to be packed of a Friday or Saturday. A personal hotspot of mine for rather vacuous reasons... Ladies! During the Autumn Internationals (November) or Six Nations (February/March) you are pretty much guaranteed to spot a group of rugby players on a post-match night out.
10) SLEEP - The Frederick Street Residence
Having lived in flats during our time at uni we were keen to re-live the experience and went down the Airbnb route. This flat we'd definitely recommend for price, location and space. But for smaller groups or couples it is probably worth getting a hotel either by George Street of the Royal Mile.