A Love Letter To Edinburgh
Written by Simon Glazin
As we celebrate the love of our cities around the globe in our My City, My Story series, journalist and stylist Simon Glazin takes us around his personal favourite – the city of Edinburgh. Nestled within the imposing Scottish hillside it’s easy to see why Simon loves it so and simply has to visit each year.
Being married to a thespian, it was only a matter of time until the Edinburgh Festival Fringe would make it into our annual holiday plans. It just so happens that I love the theatre too, so it really was a no brainer.
Five years on, and I still get that excited, butterfly feeling - the one you get as a child on your way to the airport. We do, however, get the train now to avoid the queues, mad rush and having to check in a bag. Yes, I take a suitcase. It might only be four days, and we might only be sat in theatre space after theatre space, but I still need to look good! So multiple clothing options are a must.
There is a wonderful buzz about the city when the Fringe is on. Packed streets with eager theatre goers, actors trying to sell their shows to anyone who’ll listen, street performers and then some locals (I imagine lots of people vacate the city in August!).
We always use Airbnb when we go up to Edinburgh. It’s just so easy. We’ve been very lucky so far - the first couple of years we stayed in a gorgeous penthouse at the top of the hill, with views over the Tattoo. This year was a charming basement apartment near St Andrew Square, what I consider the ‘posh’ side of town.
Although our time there is spent running from one show to the next, I make sure to leave a couple of longer gaps in between now to take in the amazing sights and architecture. From almost anywhere in the city you can get a glimpse of Edinburgh Castle, in all its Harry Potter-ness glory, and wonder down any street to see the almost regal 18th Century architecture - shops, cafes and houses too.
One of my favourite roads is the Grassmarket, which snakes down from side of town to the other, directly below the castle. You’ll find restaurants, cafes, a few cashmere shops and even some Fringe venues. The colours are amazing!
Not far from here are a few of my favourite restaurants. The Witchery - again, very Harry Potter-esque - is steeped in history. Andrew Lloyd Webber once described it as the prettiest restaurant ever. The walls are clad in heavy oak, deep red leather chairs throughout, and a grand, round staircase. It’s decadent dining at its best.
A new favourite, and a much more relaxed atmosphere to the Witchery, is Ting Thai Caravan on Teviot Place. This small but busy restaurant serves some of the best Thai street food I’ve eaten. Shared tables, food served in boxes, and very reasonable. It’s a must-visit.
If you do visit during the Fringe, be sure to check out the food markets at each venue, they serve not only good food, but some vendors turn up in brilliant vehicles!
Hotel Tigerlily is worth a visit too. It’s a 15 minute walk from Waverly station (Edinburgh’s main station) and is situated in a grand townhouse. The interior is incredible, with lots of quirk to it: printed wallpaper, a faux garden wall and many a hanging bird cage in all different colours.
I can’t leave Edinburgh without visiting Greyfriars Bobby - a statue of a Skye Terrior who, it’s said, spent 14 years patrolling his owners grave until his own death in January 1872. I’m a dog person, what can I say!