A visit of Edinburgh's haunted castle
Former royal residence and military fortress, the Edinburgh Castle majestically stands on Castle Rock's volcanic plug. Laid in the early 11th century, the first foundations of this major spot for any traveller to the land of the Scots have been extended as time and royal orders went by. For a time, the fortress even became the home of thrice-crowned Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, later sentenced to death by her sister Elizabeth I… Myriads of ghosts are thus said to drag you along and discover the crown jewels as well as the legendary Stone of Scone that was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland.
Through the battlements on the esplanade, you'll enjoy unrivalled vistas over the city and the estuary. And if you haven't noticed time flying by, the booming One O'Clock Gun will wake you up: this canon fires one shot every single day at 1 pm, perfect reminder that lunch is coming next…
Royal climbing up to Arthur's Seat
“Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence”, wrote author Robert Louis Stevenson when defining the contrast that makes up his home town. In the manner of the troubled character in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Edinburgh has two sides: one is rather bucolic and the other more urban. Nature often takes pride of place in its midst with hills and lochs (albeit with no monster) surrounding Arthur's Seat, which name is said to originate from a legend of the mythical Celtic king. The velvety hillsides start around splendid Holyrood Park and rise up to 251 metres at the summit. The softer climb is undertaken on the east side, but the bravest will tackle the west slope, so that they'll enjoy a breathtaking panorama over the black river, Fife peninsula and even the Highlands in the distance…
A trip through the Middle Ages in Old Town
To really get a feel of the Old Town, embark upon an exploration on foot of this medieval maze consisting of passageways, vaults and paved narrow streets. Royal Mile is the oldest street of all Edinburgh, and according to Daniel Defoe – the father of Robinson Crusoe – “the largest, longest and finest street (…) not only in Great Britain, but all around the world.” It must be said that it has actually been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Castle Rock to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, this paved road stretches over one mile and 107 yards (about 1.7 kilometre) and is lined with colourful bars, historical houses and shops of all kinds. As you wander around, do not hesitate and step into one of the many courts (squares) or closes (vaulted passageways) to find some medieval relics and secret gardens, hidden there for centuries.
Princely welcome at The Dunstane Houses
Two beautiful Victorian buildings stand on each side of a discreet street at the gates of the Old Town: Dunstane House and Hampton House are two halves of the same enchanting hotel, where old styles mingle with contemporary design. From the cosy living where flames crackle in a large fireplace to the Ba'Bar where soft leather and club chairs compete for the fluffiest with velvety couches. Overall, a friendly and intimate atmosphere emanates from the house. A hypnotic peacock wheel adorns the wall of one of the suites upstairs, as sunrays shine on a zinc bathtub, giving it the amber reflection of an old single malt whisky. Charm and comfort abound in equal measure. You'll be surprised wanting to never go out again, but delicious breakfast – in hearty or healthy versions depending on your taste and hunger – will give you the energy and will to set foot outside, for the time of a promenade…
Scandinavian tasting dinner at The Timberyard
Do not miss the entrance! As the name suggests, The Timberyard is hidden in an old wood storage warehouse. Once you enter, the decor of the restaurant develops an all-Scandinavian atmosphere mostly inspired by Norway, which is only a few miles away from the Scottish coast, on the other side of the North Sea. Scottish ceramic, piles of logs, stag horns and tartan plaids will however remind you this is still the land of kilts…
Expect refined and seasonal cuisine. On the menu, there's no room for useless info: meals are based on the catch of the day and vegetable gardens. During Christmas season, scallops court apples and smoked sea bream swims in a white asparagus broth when springtime comes around. The trickiest part will be to decide on how many dishes you're about to indulge in, and whether you're going to pair them with a French vintage or a peaty whisky.
10 Lady Lawson Street
Edinburgh EH3 9DS
+44 131 221 1222