24 Hours in Edinburgh
It’s no mean feat trying to conquer Edinburgh in 24 hours. This city is too exciting and too rich in history to do it justice in just one day but when travel PR agency Pilot PR was invited on a fam trip to see the new Safestay Edinburgh, we gave it our best shot!
Of course you can fly from London to Edinburgh, but with its prime city centre location, Safestay Edinburgh is just 9 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh’s Waverley station, we opted for a hassle-free train journey from London’s King’s Cross on Virgin Trains and enjoyed the fabulous scenic views en-route instead.
This former Smart City Hostel is currently under a phased refurbishment and will be launched as Safestay Edinburgh in Summer 2016. With elements of the design inspired by Scotland’s illustrious heritage combined with Safestay’s signature vibrant hues and playful, contemporary fittings, Safestay Edinburgh aims to provide a stylish, safe and affordable accommodation to individual travellers and groups alike. This is the fourth hostel in Safestay's portfolio which also includes two properties in London and one in York.
No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without sampling Scottish whisky so having dropped our bags in our en-suite dorm room, we set off on foot to The Devil’s Advocate in search of a wee dram. Located in an old Victorian pump house hidden away in Advocate’s Close, we quickly understood why this local bar and restaurant was so highly recommended by the team at Safestay. Exposed brick walls and rustic candles give off a cosy vibe and there is a fabulous selection of seasonal cocktails, a considered wine list and a host of craft beers. With friendly staff and fantastic service it is no wonder it was fully packed when we left!
Not wanting to waste a single second of our time in Edinburgh, we booked ourselves, with trepidation, on one of the city's most popular Ghost Tours - Mercat Tours' Doomed, Dead & Buried tour which explores the long buried (& haunted) Blair Street Underground Vaults and the atmospheric Canongate graveyard. Our guide Alex shared his tales of infamous spirits and cursed souls on a spooky tour which lasted just under 2 hours - an absolute must do for all visitors to the city.
Mercat Tours offer tours everyday throughout the year. The Doomed Dead & Buried tour starts at Mercat Cross on High Street, five minute walk from Safestay Edinburgh, and ends at Canongate Graveyard. Adult and child ticket are 15GBP and 8GBP per person respectively, group discounts apply.
After the grueling ghost tour, we definitely needed some fortification and so we headed back to Safestay to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the hostel's own Bar 50. A hearty selection of freshly prepared food is available from stone-baked pizzas and Aberdeen Angus beef burgers to Burritos and Fish & Chips. Our choice of Goats Cheese pizza, Chicken Wings and Potato Wedges were delicious and the portions huge! An impressive drinks menu is also available with a focus on local craft beer and a fine selection of single malt whiskeys. We finished our night listening to a pretty good amateur band playing at the weekly “open mic night” whist playing a rather competitive game of pool on one of the two available tables.
After a delicious full Scottish breakfast (yes, the traditional haggis is included!), served buffet style at Safestay Edinburgh (4GBP per person, available from 8 to 10.30am), we went in search of a traditional tartan scarf to keep us warm in the Edinburgh winds. We found Nicolson Kiltmakers on 189 Canongate. Famous for their high quality kilts for sale and hire, we purchased the perfect lambswool scarves and were also very tempted by their wide variety of tartan products including home ware and beautiful throws.
“Walk everywhere, you’ll see all the nooks and crannies best this way.” advised Jayne our lovely host at Safestay. We had registered for the free walking tour by Sandemans offered at Safestay Edinburgh and available three times daily with pick up at the doorstep of the hostel. Our tour guide Johnny is a history and politics student so we learnt a lot of interesting stories during our three hour walk. Indeed, the tour gives the perfect overview of the main sights of the Old City of Edinburgh including the famous Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, sites of executions, cloned sheep and the birthplace of Harry Potter! We would highly recommend a separate visit to attractions like St. Giles Cathedral, we simply did not have enough time!
Right before we hopped on the train back to London, we managed to treat ourselves to a nice brunch at The Edinburgh Larder which is located opposite to Safestay on Blackfriars Street. The Larder is the place to eat seasonal, locally sourced produce. Moreover, they use coffee beans roasted in Edinburgh by Artisan Roast and their teas are blended in Scotland by Edinburgh based Eteaket. Their homemade cakes and light scones are the talk of the town so don’t miss them. We would love to return on a Sunday for their legendary Sunday brunch!
We did enjoy our short yet fruitful visit to Edinburgh but next time we will definitely be staying longer!
To book your stay at Safestay Edinburgh or to take advantage of any special offers or promotions at any of the four Safestay hostels in the UK, visit www.safestay.com or call +44 (0)20 3326 8471.