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Edinburgh: Winter City Break Guide

Wrap up warm to experience the magic of Scotland’s capital city at Christmastime

The lead-up to Christmas can be a stressful time – so why not plan an impromptu getaway? Ditch the present lists, step away from the turkey-cooking tips and hop on a train or plane to Edinburgh, where you can rediscover the joys of the festive season.

Just a short flight from London, Edinburgh has all the hustle and bustle of the capital with colossal amounts of historic charm. And at this time of year, the city comes alive with festivities to reignite the spirit of Christmas in even the grumpiest of grinches.

Stick to the traditional and stroll the Royal Mile, visit the iconic Edinburgh Castle, sip a pint at the Tolbooth Tavern or brave the blustery walk up Arthur’s Seat for amazing views over the city. Or you could cross over from the Old Town and browse the market stalls at the Christmas Fair between the Scott Monument and Edinburgh Waverley train station.

Whatever you decide to do, the city at this time of year is simply magical. Wrap up and warm up with a dram of whisky or mulled wine and join in the fun. 

Where To Stay

If the delights of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town are all very well and good but you prefer your hotel accommodation a little more 21st century, book into the G&V Royal Mile. The only five-star hotel on the city’s most iconic street, the G&V is perfectly located for exploring everything Edinburgh has to offer.

When we say perfectly located, we really mean it. The G&V is just moments from Edinburgh Castle and within easy walking distance of all of the city’s tourist attractions.

We recommend booking one of the hotel’s deluxe rooms on the fourth floor, which boast mesmerising floor-to-ceiling views over Edinburgh’s rooftops, Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat. The modern décor forms a quirky backdrop to Edinburgh’s historic cityscape, which you can peruse from the comfort of the plush and expansive bed. (Definitely the cosiest way to see the city).

Of course, the benefits of staying at the G&V are far more than just the well-appointed rooms and suites. We recommend popping in to see the extremely friendly therapists at the hotel’s petite spa for a relaxing treatment (or two) that’ll soothe away your pre-Christmas tensions.

Also on the must-do list for guests of the G&V is dining at the hotel’s Cucina restaurant, which serves up hearty Italian cuisine, perfect for warming you up after a chilly day of exploring the city. And whether you’re a guest or not, a visit to the G&V’s new bar Epicurean is a great way to toast the festive season. Enjoy one of its signature cocktails or aromatic infusions while enjoying the designer décor.

Whether you’re looking for a bolthole while you explore the city, or you’re planning a romantic getaway and don’t intend to leave the comfort of the hotel, the G&V is an excellent choice if you’re Edinburgh-bound.

Where To Eat

Not for nothing is The Witchery by the Castle one of Edinburgh’s most famous foodie attractions. The clue to its location is in the name – right next to the city’s most historic building at the top of the famous Royal Mile.

Stepping inside is like walking into fantasy-land. From the outside, The Witchery’s historic stone façade and archaic signage hint at the magic inside, but the full first impression when you arrive at the restaurant through the narrow passageway really accentuates the feeling that you’re entering into a fairytale.

Inside, The Witchery is The Tudors meets Game of Thrones. Dark wooden paneling and ornate tapestries cover the stone walls, while small street-level windows ensure the restaurant retains its atmosphere whatever the weather.

We recommend visiting for dinner (or staying in one of the establishment’s lushly decorated suites) when the dark, chilly Edinburgh night forms the perfect backdrop for the romantic, candle-lit tables.

The menu is fairly traditional but don’t be fooled – traditional doesn’t mean boring. Far from it – this is some of the tastiest food we’ve ever eaten. We recommend the haggis starter (when in Scotland…), the rib-eye steak (perfectly tender and extremely flavoursome) and the vegetarian courgette option with orzo pasta and halloumi (surprisingly delicious).

Polished off with a decadent chocolate dessert and a few excellent glasses of wine, dinner at The Witchery is a romantic treat that should definitely be on your mini-break wish list.