Welcome To Edinburgh
By Shayne Benowitz
We’re thrilled to be opening the first Virgin Hotels outside of the US in the historic Scottish capital of Edinburgh in June. Situated in the heart of Old Town inside the landmark India Buildings just steps from the Royal Mile, we can’t wait to welcome guests and act as the home base for your explorations. We’ve put together a crash course guide as a way of welcoming you to Virgin Hotels Edinburgh.
Perched atop dramatic Castle Rock, which is actually an extinct ancient volcano, the Edinburgh Castle dates back to the 10th century Iron Age. Today, view the Honours of Scotland, Britains’ oldest crown jewels—a crown, scepter and sword made of gold silver and precious gems—which were first used in 1543 at the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots. The audio guide is a must for the fascinating history of Edinburgh and the castle. You can also make a reservation at the Tea Rooms in Crown Square for a proper afternoon tea in an elegant dining room nestled at the top of the castle.
Another way to immerse yourself in Scottish culture is through a Taste of Scotland dinner and a show at the historic Prestonfield House. The evening includes a four-course dinner—including a taste of haggis, Scotland’s rustic national dish, paired with a dram of malt whisky—accompanied by a spectacular show of traditional Scottish music, song and dance, from the Highland fling to bagpipe rock and Auld Lang Syne. And while this might be as touristy as tourist attractions get, it’s a fun, campy, one-of-a-kind experience that we highly recommend.
To experience Edinburgh’s lush green, rolling topography and fully appreciate its position on an estuary in the North Sea, plan an outing to Arthur’s Seat at Holyrood Park and a boat tour through the Firth of Forth. Jutting nearly 1,000-feet above sea level, Arthur’s Seat is a rugged promontory boasting sweeping 360-degree views of Edinburgh with hiking trails along lochs and medieval ruins. Later, sail through the Firth of Forth beneath three bridges with views of Edinburgh’s skyline to the south and the Kingdom of Fife to the north. You can disembark on Inchcolm Island and explore a 12th century Augustine abbey.
The ultimate Edinburgh souvenir is a traditional Scottish tartan—the iconic plaid patterns in various colors found on cashmere and wool scarves, hats, blankets and kilts. While patterns and colors are associated with specific family clans, you can simply shop for your personal style. Stroll down the Royal Mile and pop into shops, from Marchbrae to Tartan Weaving Mill.
Eat & Drink
Of course, one of our favorite ways to experience culture is through food and drink. Start with a hearty traditional Scottish breakfast of poached eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, blistered tomatoes and buttered toast at the Edinburgh Larder.
We’re completely enchanted by Edinburgh’s pub tradition and relish in cozying up with a pint of craft beer or a dram of single malt Scotch whisky with the locals—some of our favorite spots include the Sheep Heid Inn, the Royal Dick, Nauticus and the Blue Blazer.
And while we love journeying back in time through Edinburgh’s history, we’re drawn to the city’s contemporary restaurant scene with hotspots like Aurora for its modern bistro fare and locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and the Little Chartroom for its updated approach to traditional Scottish cuisine.