U.K.

Edinburgh at Christmas!

Let’s start this post with I LOVE CHRISTMAS.  I love everything about Christmas, I love the romantic vibe, the beautiful lit up streets, I love how people think about family at Christmas and I love cosying up by the fire and watching the terrible movies.  I truly love everything about Christmas.  I would also like to formally apologise to everyone who doesn’t feel this way and I’m sorry for writing this post in June, truly sorry.

Last Christmas, I took a trip to Edinburgh to check out their Christmas vibes. Edinburgh is a beautiful city in Scotland, it has a distinctly quaint characteristic whilst still being a big city – perfect!

Waldorf Astoria – the Caledonian

We (my mother and I) were staying in the Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh – The Caledonian.

This hotel is stunning, probably at the best of times but especially at Christmas.  We approached the big beautiful Caledonian, coated in a tastefully frosted layer of fairy lights and were swept off the chilly streets through the revolving door and into the lobby.

We checked in and our bags were kindly taken from us, unfortunately our room was not ready immediately, there was about a 15 minute wait, but we were treated so well during that time, we couldn’t complain. We were ushered into a grand bar/dining area and served champagne, olives and popcorn. The lush velour seats were heaven and music drifted gently in the background. The hotel was decked out with Christmas trees on every floor which were tastefully decorated with ornaments and lights, making for a magical backdrop of festive delights.


Breakfast –

Breakfast in The Caledonian was quite the experience. Hotel breakfasts tend to be hit and miss, however this was divine. Of course I tucked straight into the bloody mary station, but there were plenty of fresh juices for those who prefer a healthier morning. Everything you could wish for was on offer in The Caledonian breakfast room and it was a real experience to be able to sample such luxury in this wonderful establishment. As I am a woman who values experiences above all I decided to have haggis for breakfast as I had never tried it before! Haggis is a Scottish dish of offal (heart, liver, lungs, you name it) mixed with onions and oatmeal and all sorts of spices, it is traditionally cased in an animal stomach (although now more often than not the casing is synthetic). I loved it! Haggis is a must try if you’re like me and want to try everything under the sun because it is honestly delicious – even for breakfast and washed down with a bloody mary.

Kanpai Sushi

This restaurant deserves a mention because even though sushi is decidedly un-festive to most people in the U.K because it is a delight.

Kanpai is a haven for those who love minimalistic Japanese design. It is almost hidden, the front of the restaurant show no signs of flashiness, just simple, elegant and tasteful design.

Inside you will find yourself in a small restaurant reminiscent of an actual sushi bar in Japan – these guys know what they’re doing! Service is super friendly and there are daily specials (always good with raw fish, we know that the restaurant is getting fresh ingredients if they have ever changing daily specials). The menu is fairly extensive which I personally don’t like in a restaurant, I prefer a concise menu of excellent offerings, but luckily I wasn’t disappointed by what arrived at my table. A good way to spot a nice sushi restaurant (or any restaurant) is the crockery they use, the bowls/plates/soy sauce dipping trays were stunning. The delicate china adorned our table and I really felt the Japanese culture as I enjoyed my delicious meal. The food is to die for, everything I ate was extremely fresh. We ordered salmon sashimi, edamame, lotus root, gyoza, sea urchin and some different types of nigiri and I could fault nothing – definitely worth the visit if you fancy something a little special during your trip.

Located on Grindlay Street, Edinburgh

Edinburgh castle & light show!

Edinburgh castle is of course the star of the show if you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh. This ancient castle is stunning by day, the cobbled floors and rustic walls make for a fantastically historic experience. If you are interested in history, it also makes for a great educational day out! I love how you can see Edinburgh castle from a lot of places in Ednburgh because it is on raised ground.

I went to Edinburgh castle in the evening for the ‘Castle of Light’ event that was being put on there.  Edinburgh castle was lit up from every angle!  There were lights of every colour and stories being told through the lights.  It was an excellent production, educational and visually incredible.  Above all though just seeing the castle lit up was so aesthetically pleasing, it was the best part of my trip!

It was like being in an alternate universe, some sort of alien planet in the most beautiful surreal way, I highly recommend trying to get tickets for something like this because it was so much fun. I hope they will be able to do it again this year!

THORS

On top of the Waverly mall – Thors tipi bar is a Viking inspired bar with a firepit inside!  This is the perfect place to enjoy a warm beverage and no one is going to judge you for having a mulled cider in the afternoon, it is Christmas after all.

Leave the frosty streets of Edinburgh behind and be engulfed in a incredibly cosy and festive environment. Reindeer skins adorn the seats and the fire pit is a hive of activity as people huddle to get near the flickering heat.

Christmas market

Edinburgh’s Christmas market is worth the visit in itself.  Situated in central Edinburgh in east princes street gardens, this slalom of little shops seems endless – the PERFECT place to gift shop, whoever you are buying for, there really is something for everyone here.

On top of this there is plenty of food and drink stalls to get your mouth watering and your tummy ready for Christmas, hello Baileys hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. YUM.  On top of all this there are also some amusement rides which could be fun if you are travelling with kids.

The best thing about the Christmas market is the overall vibe, it was bustling with people (it won’t be the same this year which is very, very sad), everyone is excited for the coming holidays, bundled up in big coats and clutching hot mulled wines. The smell of Christmas is in the air as the wooden hut shops hold dried fruits and cinnamon decorations. So festive.

The Royal Mile

One of the reasons I travelled to Edinburgh was to get organised with my Christmas shopping, I love buying gifts for my family and friends because making people happy is important to me.  However I hate the throw away culture of a lot of Western areas, especially (but not limited to) the holidays, I think it’s awful how much people buy for each other at Christmas which is utter junk and will end up being thrown away!  I think this not only is a huge waste of our hard earned money, but also doesn’t help our planet with the awful plastic/landfill situation we have going on.  Not to mention wrapping hundreds of gifts with wrapping paper loaded with plastic!  Think of the oceans!  Anyway…Going to Edinburgh meant I could pick up some unique gifts that my loved ones would appreciate and truly enjoy.

The Royal Mile lends itself perfectly to this!  It is a long strip of ancient road in the middle of Edinburgh, with hundreds of boutique and independent retailers offering some stunning handmade Scottish goods!   Scotland is, of course, well known for its wool, so there are lots of woolly goodies, but so many other things caught my eye also.
There is even a shop dedicated solely to Christmas on the Royal Mile!  Edinburgh really is the place to be during the festivities.  The Royal Mile ends with a beautiful view of Arthurs Seat, really worth the walk, a perfect way to kill a few hours in the chilly afternoons.

General vibe

The combination of steps, cobbled streets and alleyways give Edinburgh its uniqueness as a city.  It is quaint and quintessentially Scottish by nature.  It is a city that many people love (this is reflected in the sky high house prices).

Edinburgh has a very Harry Potter feel about it a lot of the time, the architecture and size of some of the streets is so reminiscent of J.K.Rowlings famous books, there is even a street called Victoria Street which is thought to have been the inspiration behind Diagon Alley.  It is a tiny thin cobbled street in the middle of Edinburgh, it’s worth a find if you ever find yourself in this city, it really highlights the eccentricity of Edinburgh.

At the end of my busy days exploring Edinburgh city, I was able to spend time in the relaxing haven that is the Waldorf Astoria, drifting off in a luxurious white sheeted cloud in The Caledonian.

Next time I visit Edinburgh, I would love to actually hike up Arthurs seat and I would also like to visit Leith, the cool waterfront town in Edinburgh, maybe in the summer…

I’d love to hear about your experiences of Edinburgh! Comment in the box below or e-mail me at gbgoesplaces@gmail.com.

Alternatively you can message me at @gbgoesplaces on both Twitter and Instagram! Also follow me for some great travel pics…


Speak soon

GB

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