Thursday, 24 January 2019

Edinburgh's Hidden Gems: Three Neighbourhoods You Need To Visit.*

*This is a collaborative post. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.


I've lived in Edinburgh my whole life, and yet I never stop discovering new things to love about it. I'm completely biased, but it is my favourite city in the world and I just love showing it off to new people. One of my favourite things about the city is how different areas have distinctive personalities and with so many hotels in Edinburgh to choose from, you're bound to find a corner of the city that will win your heart. With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my favourite neighbourhoods for you to check out next time you're in Auld Reekie!


When you think of Edinburgh, you might be thinking of the more obvious attractions - the castle upon its rock, the serene gardens flanking one side of Princes Street or the long, cobbled path of the Royal Mile. While I love all of them - the Old Town, in particular, holds a special place in my heart - I will save my gushing praise of them for another day. For now, I want to talk about the hidden gems in the capital. 

Stockbridge

If you're staying in the centre of town, there's no real reason to miss out on Stockbridge - and yet so many do! It's the perfect way to get out of the tourist traps, but still retains an air of elegance with all those beautiful Georgian buildings. I won't beat around the bush - this is a pretty posh area (at least for a scumbag like me), but it also has a real sense of community. From the unusual shops (I.J. Mellis is the best cheese shop in the world and they have a branch here) to the weekly Sunday market selling all kinds of food and crafty bits, this is such a beautiful, relaxing area to wander around. There's a really beautiful bookshop I'd recommend (Golden Hare Books) and the charity shops are also usually well worth a look through!


Stockbridge has absolutely loads of delicious restaurants and gastropubs, so we were spoilt for choice. We wandered into Hectors for lunch, a gorgeously decorated pub with a huge variety of drinks, and some incredible food choices. I decided to go for the mushroom and vegan cheese pie, which was delicious, while Jamie opted for the butternut squash salad with fried halloumi on top. I was really impressed with how many veggie and vegan options they had available too - they even had a vegan beer available for Veganuary!


For me, the best part of the Stockbridge area is the Modern Art Galleries. I'm a huge fan of any museum or gallery going, but modern art is my favourite, and with two galleries this beautiful it's worth visiting just to look at the buildings. There's currently an exhibition of Andy Warhol and Eduardo Paolozzi going on in one of the galleries - two of my favourite artists in one exhibit! If you're more into nature than art, check out the Royal Botanic Garden (I'm aware this is technically Inverleith, not Stockbridge but shhh it's like a ten-minute walk).


There are also incredible walks along the Water of Leith in this area. The river is very peaceful and in the spring there are a ton of ducklings and cygnets which always make me happy. The walkways stretch across the city and are just for pedestrians and bikes, so you can really chill out and appreciate all the cute dogs being walked. You can head south-west to the beautiful Dean Village (honestly so nice, please buy me a house here) or if you're feeling adventurous, take a longer walk north-east to Leith (hint hint, see below for why you should).

Portobello

Did you know Edinburgh has a pretty awesome beach? Portobello is one of my favourite places - particularly in the summertime (which was not when these photos were taken, clearly!). Porty used to be a separate town (like Leith below!) so it holds on to its own quirky charms, which I really enjoy.


The architecture in Portobello is gorgeous, and there is actually a conservation area to protect the  Georgian and Victorian buildings. This area has, like Leith, gone through a period of change recently and is becoming more and more fashionable. There is a kind of 'hippy' vibe to Porty in my opinion; there's a strong focus on supporting small businesses (as evident by the large variety of independent shops, cafes and restaurants in the town), the beach is clean and well looked after due to the efforts of eco-friendly residents, and there's a definite community spirit, with lots of activities and events along the promenade. It's a cool, hip area that doesn't take itself too seriously, and is perfect for families.


While I love the beach (though not so much in January - maybe try the distinctive Turkish Baths instead?) and the cute cafe-bar culture of Porty (The Espy is a particular highlight for me), I can't lie to you. My favourite thing about the area is the arcade. We've been visiting Nobles Amusements since we were kids, and we just have so much fun. It's perfect for warming up after a stroll along the seaside, although we usually come out with our wallets a few quid lighter. Nevertheless, it's not really a trip to Porty if I don't get a go on the 2p machines!

Leith

Again, I'm afraid my bias might be showing. I'm from Leith, from back when it was considered a rough area that my friends would be reluctant to hang out in. Sure, we may have had our issues, but in my opinion, Leith is the friendliest, funniest, most welcoming place to be. Good old gentrification has cleaned the place up a bit (and priced me out of living there - sob), but there is still a real heart and warmth to the area.


Leith is an old dockland that has been transformed into an artistic, modern neighbourhood. There's a ton to do, from visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, having a picnic on the Links, or getting creative at the Out of the Blue gallery space. For me, though, nothing beats wandering along the Shore. Yes, that Water of Leith walk I mentioned earlier comes out in... well, Leith, duh. Along this big old river is an area known as the Shore, home to a ton of incredible restaurants and pubs, and this area is my stomping ground in Edinburgh. I lived nearby, worked here for years, and it's still my favourite place to go for a drink, As an old port town, this is an area that likes a bevvy, and the variety of unique spots like Nobles, Teuchter's Landing, The King's Wark and Carriers Quarters is second to none. There are also some fantastic seafood eateries in this area, like Fishers!


Jamie and I decided to visit one of our all-time favourite pubs, The Roseleaf. This beautiful little bar is well known for its retro decoration (like the hats on the walls) and for serving cocktails in teapots, complete with china teacups and saucers (you can even combine the two and have a Mad Hatters tea party!). We were realistically not at all hungry after Hector's but we still went ahead and ordered - a haggis, neeps and tattie stack for Jamie (with the most exquisite whisky sauce I've ever tasted) and hands-down the best mac and cheese I've ever had. And yes, we had a pot-tail!


The Shore at night is just dreamy and was the perfect way to finish off our day. Edinburgh is a city made up of many villages, and I am very thankful to get to spend time in all of them! I hope you've found some new ideas for where to visit next time you're in the city - and if you're ever by the Shore, give me a shout and I'll show you the best pubs!

Have you been to Edinburgh? What was your favourite place?

(Massive thank you to Jamie for all the help with the photos - very appreciated!)
*This is a collaborative post. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.
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