Premier Inn: Edinburgh Review Blog

By TopCashback member Eve Brimacombe

This was our second time in Edinburgh: the first was during a very snowy January and the country was white for the entire 400-plus mile journey from London King’s Cross. The outside of the train was covered in ice: our very own Polar Express.

This time we arrived at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station in early-afternoon autumn sunshine. Ok, maybe the thermometer was few degrees lower than down South, but compared to last time it was positively balmy – although the stark beauty of this landscape is in no way diminished by the addition of a sprinkling of snow. It softens the harsh grandeur of the castle, looming high and imposing on its rock above the city, giving it an almost ethereal appearance; Edinburgh is undeniably beautiful, whatever the weather.

Our hotel was the Premier Inn in Haymarket, to the south of the city centre, and within easy reach of the station. First on the agenda was exploration of the immediate area and a search for somewhere to eat that night.  We found a promising Indian Restaurant about ten minutes’ walk away (how could you resist a restaurant called the Kama Sutra?) and even better, a quirky bar just round the corner to the hotel. Any pub that bears the slogan ‘Are you gonna piss about all day – or are you coming in?’ painted on a beam across the bar AND has plates of Tunnocks teacakes, chocolate wafers and caramel logs on the counter is definitely my kind of place. And that’s without the ‘Whisky of the Week’ – but more of that later.

We had a great first night and slept well.  So well, in fact, that we overslept and didn’t wake up until gone 9am. Premier Inn pride themselves on their blackout curtains and the comfort of their beds – just ask Lenny Henry – and it’s true. Luckily breakfast is served until 11am, so we didn’t miss it, but it did mean reassessing our plans for the day.

The Castle is an absolute ‘must’ for the first-time visitor, combining as it does spectacular views plus a history both romantic and bloody. James Stewart, the first Scottish King of England, was born here, to the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots, later beheaded by Elizabeth 1.  His son, Charles 1, was also beheaded, this time by Oliver Cromwell ; James sounds a pretty careless monarch, losing both his mother and his son to the English axe.

But having already ‘done’ the Castle, plus the open-top bus tour (in sub-zero temperature), the Royal Yacht, wedged fast in thick ice at Leith (Prince Philip’s bedroom, curiously Spartan and masculine. Could separate bedrooms be the clue to a long and happy marriage?), and the Whisky Experience, we had thought we might try the Palace of Holyrood. However, by the time we’d polished off a full English followed by choc chip muffins it was already 11.30 and we had an Underground City of the Dead tour booked for 3.30 that afternoon. Time was a bit tight, so instead of the Palace we decided to have a look round the Georgian sector of the city, which we hadn’t yet seen.

edstreet

 This is the elegant part of town: wide streets, terraces and squares, excellent shopping and a wide selection of coffee shops, bars, restaurants and cafés, including a Hard Rock Café that we had to pop into as we collect the shot glasses, sad people that we are.  We visited a Georgian townhouse restored by the National Trust, acquiring membership along the way as they made us an offer it was impossible to refuse, before making our way down to the Royal Mile in pre-Georgian ‘old’ Edinburgh. This was originally inside the city walls, an area so confined that the only way to build was up, as many as fourteen stories in some cases – the very earliest  ‘tower blocks’. Edinburgh then was so crowded and insanitary that it was referred to as ‘auld reekie’ or ‘the big stink’, as rumour has it, it could be smelled from twelve miles away.

 Nowadays the Royal Mile plays host to several tacky tourist shops all sporting tartan-themed gift-tat and Scottish heritage for foreigners, but it’s all done in good humour; where else can you buy chocolate bagpipes, or so many different varieties of shortbread?  Evidence of the area’s earlier incarnation is still visible, in narrow closes and side alleys leading off the main drag, and The Real Mary Kings Close tour, which takes you underneath the present city into a warren of underground streets and spaces which was sealed off and built over in the late eighteenth century.

bagpipes

There is a lot of underground life in Edinburgh: it has a reputation for hauntings and the supernatural. This was the weekend before Halloween, so even more ghost walks and eerie tours were planned than usual, many very late evening. As I’m a bit of wimp with ghosties and ghoulies (give me a white-knuckle rollercoaster any day), our tour was in the afternoon and the least-threatening I could find – but as it took place underground, in the vaults beneath the city in the dark, time of day was pretty irrelevant.

This was a world where untold numbers of desperate people lived and perished, and maybe I’m just susceptible to atmosphere and suggestion, but the middle part of the tour – the workshop – quite freaked me out. This is no theatrical extravaganza; no special effects, no actors leaping out of dark corners, just the guide telling the story of the history of the vaults and its haunted reputation, but I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  Once we’d left that particular chamber I felt a bit better, but I was glad to see daylight, and can understand why the guide refuses to take children under the age of fourteen.

Both the weather (the sun had turned to rain and sleet) and our poor aching feet meant dinner needed to be very near our hotel, so we ate at a tiny Italian restaurant literally minutes away, then finished our evening with a final visit to our quirky pub for spirits of a different kind:  a couple of Whiskies of the Week as I am partial to the odd wee dram or three…  With this in mind, our last stop before catching the train home next day was a specialist whisky shop back on the Royal Mile, meaning we could take home at least a ‘taste’ of our weekend.

Eve Brimacombe

Thanks to Eve for the first blog. Don’t forget we have 5.05% cashback on Edinburgh bookings with Premier Inn this week and the last chance to enter the Edinburgh competition with a chance to win £250!

We also wanted to say a big thanks to everyone that took the time to enter our competition to find a blogger. We had so many great entries that it was very hard to pick the best three. We hope you enjoyed writing them as much as we enjoyed reading them!

As well as Eve, our other winners were Siobhan O’Grady and Lindsey Jenkinson. Congratulations to them for two really well-written blogs.

Keep an eye out for our next city reviews where Lindsey will be reviewing Cardiff and Siobhan will review London. These will be on-site across December and January to provide some inspiration for places to see and things to do in these great cities. We’ll also have some more great competitions coming up, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for your chance to win £250 in association with Premier Inn!

Cashback rates are correct at time of purchase but please check the Premier Inn merchant page before making your purchase.

Posted on 05 Nov 2012  |  Posted in  Deals & Competitions
Comments
gigi2
Edinburgh city centre princes st premier inn and Edinburgh castle would do nicely
  11 Nov 12 - 16:09
jellybuba
We are about to spend our 10th wedding anniversary in edinburgh this coming august. Cannot wait as it has the perfect mix of history, shopping ,culture etc. I visited once before as part of a crazy hen weekend but my husband has never been. Just waiting for premier inn to release the rooms for sale!
  09 Nov 12 - 11:42
shill
Always like to walk up Calton Hill, great view of Princes St and the castle.
Lauriston Place good central location.
  08 Nov 12 - 19:44
nmurray1
I would visit this historic house in the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh that shows how people lived and worked in the 17 century that has been authentically restored and furnished by the National Trust and reminds myself of all my modern day luxuries I can take forgranted Premier Inn Edinburgh Central
  07 Nov 12 - 10:17
IanMc
We did Edinburgh early this year and did very much the same things.

Completely agree, the Castle is an absolute must ! You can spend hours and hours there, the history is fascinating, you cant help but get caught up in the stories you read. Definitely check out the well guarded Stone of Destiny. We found it incredible and a little embarrassing to see foreign visitors (from the far east) know so much history about Scotland than us British.

The view from the castle is spectacular. Unfortunately the landmarks have changed over the years when you look out and see Primark lol !

Top review, thanks.
  05 Nov 12 - 20:42

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