Living it up in Edinburgh

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By Ella Buchan, a Travel Professional

Read more on Edinburgh.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 3 votes)
Recommended for:
Food and Drink, Budget, Mid-range, Expensive

The Scottish capital of Edinburgh makes a great base for a good old-fashioned pub crawl

Apart from the cleaner atmosphere in bars and the clusters of people along the streets, the smoking ban has had another welcome effect – the return of the good old pub crawl. Hardcore smokers use the journeys between drinking holes as opportunities to light up, rather than stare at the pavement or through the window at their abandoned companions. And Edinburgh, with its mix of ‘old man’ pubs and trendy bars, is the home of the pub crawl.
Start with the pubs around the castle walls and head inland. Choose from cocktail joints, student hangouts and whisky joints with more malts than you can doff your flat cap at. Try Nicol Edwards on Niddry Street – a traditional bar with cavernous rooms including banqueting hall and cinema. Another good bet is The Barony on Broughton Street, with a wide range of ales and whiskies. But you can’t wander far without coming across a drinking hole, so there is no need to plan.
The perfect base
When it comes to clubbing, the hottest ticket in town is at boutique hotel Tigerlily. Its subterranean nightclub, Lulu, draws hordes of scantily clad lads and lasses willing to shiver it out while queuing around the block to get in.
For guaranteed entry – and a night luxuriating in fluffy-wuffy white robes and Egyptian cotton sheets – book a room there. If you book the ‘Love Package’ you’ll get Veuve Clicquot champagne and handcrafted Belgian chocs on arrival, so you can line your stomach the glamorous way before hitting the town. That’s what my boyfriend and I did on our weekend trip, providing us with the perfect base to explore the Edinburgh nightlife. It costs from £350 for two nights in a luxury double, and also includes breakfast in bed and optional late checkout.
After dark the hotel room keys become 'VIP passes’, so you can march straight into Lulu, drawing more than a few envious glances and pleas from revellers hoping to sneak past the strict door staff. Down below, plush sofas, soft pink lighting and not-so-soft pink cocktails create a sexy atmosphere. And the two heated outdoor areas certainly help to explain the draw of this place – smokers are packed in like fags in an unopened 20-pack of B&H. After spending enough to pay for another night in the hotel on cocktails – they are around £8 a pop – and chatting with ultra-friendly locals, we called it a night and jumped into the elevator up to our room. If only every nightclub had a lift that took you straight to bed. Much better than paying for a cab or catching three night buses home.
Exploring the city
As part of our package we were served a gorgeous full Scottish breakfast in bed, complete with haggis. I did not think my fuzzy head or toxic stomach could take it, but I wolfed it all down to soak up the alcohol. Then, ready for the day, we set about exploring the city itself.
The castle presides over everything and looks like it has taken a wrong turn from the set of Lord of the Rings. In fact, gazing up at its walls, it is hard to imagine even the toughest orc scaling them.
It is also worth visiting a far more modern – and controversial – building. The new Scottish Parliament building, opposite Holyrood Palace, looks at first like the product of a giant satellite dish crashing into an art deco building. But it is actually quite attractive, with its curved wood and metal structure and manicured public gardens. You can have a free tour of the inside or, on a sunny day, just chill out by the various water features outside.
If you are a whisky fan, head for the Scotch Whisky Experience near the castle. For an entry fee, you can learn all about your favourite tipple, go on the Whisky Barrel Ride and attend a tasting.
After a tiring day visiting interesting monuments, it was back to the hotel for a slap-up meal. If possible, the food is even more indulgent than the rooms. A melt-in-the-mouth starter of seared scallops with Thai cabbage salad followed by seafood linguine in a lemon cream sauce was so gorgeous I ate it really slowly to make it last. With a private alcove to ourselves, it was hard to drag ourselves away after the plates had been cleared. In fact it was hard to drag ourselves away from the hotel, and Edinburgh, altogether.

Getting there

GNER travels to Edinburgh Waverley from London Kings Cross.

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More information on Living it up in Edinburgh:

Ella Buchan
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
Guide rating:
Average: 4 (3 votes)
Total views:
First uploaded:
13 March 2009
Last updated:
4 years 28 weeks 1 hour 49 min 38 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Food and Drink
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
shopping, luxury, clubbing, food and drink, pampering, whisky

Ella recommends


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(out of 5)
1. Tigerlily

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Community comments (3)

0 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

You have a fantastic writing style and the strength of this guide is the review of Tigerlily. Income from Simonseeks largely comes from hotel recommendations and you have done a great job with this one and am sure people will book based on what you have written here.

Photos please! You have sold the hotel to us with your writing, but let us see the pictures of the room and the interior of the nightclub.

I have a few suggestions that will help readers with practical arrangements. If you include web links in brackets after the attractions you mention it makes it easier for readers to click through and get opening times, prices, location etc.

The Getting There section is out-of-date as GNER no longer exists. Considering how often UK train company franchises change it might be best to just have a link to the nationalrail website. Also remember that Simonseeks could be read by anyone, not just UK audiences so they could be travelling from further afield.

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I really enjoyed reading this piece. It was a good mix of useful information and lively reporting. The writer's enthusiasm was infectious and made it feel as if Edinburgh would be a fun place to visit - previously I have always thought of it as a little dour and austere. Now I think I would like to make the trip! It felt like enough details to give you an idea of the place, without being dry and dictatorial as some travel writing is wont to do.

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0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Reading this just brings back so many memories of when I went to Edinburgh last year. We happened to stumble on Lulu without looking specifically for it – the weather was horrible and we just joined the queue without knowing what it was! But what a find, it really was one of the best clubbing nights I’ve had and I can’t wait to go back in a couple of weeks.

Overall, this is a good and interesting guide although perhaps a little lightweight; it would be great to read more about the different places to try during both the day and evening, and see your recommendations on other hotels and places to stay. You might also consider including things for different budgets and for those going as a group of friends too, as I think this would really improve the guide and increase it’s appeal to more people.

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