Check into The Witchery
The Witchery is a wonderful gothic-style hotel on Castlehill. Right at the gates of Edinburgh Castle, just up the Royal Mile from Waverley station, the pretty property occupies a collection of 16th-century buildings. Interiors are dark and opulent – picture antique furniture and rich fabrics. Nine suites range from spacious boudoirs with rooftop views to rooms tucked away in a turret with their own private stone staircase. Check in, drop your bags, explore your room, and have a coffee and slice of shortbread before heading back out.
Soak up the atmosphere of the Royal Mile
Turn left out of The Witchery and you’ll be right at the entrance to one of the most storied landmarks in Scotland. You can spot the castle from most neighbourhoods in the city, but the best way to learn about its history is to climb the hill and explore the buildings on site, including St Margaret's Chapel which dates to the 12th century. Tickets sell out weeks in advance so be sure to buy yours online ahead of time.
Beneath the castle, Princes Street Gardens lie at the centre of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site, stretching across both New and Old Town. A must for horticultural lovers, they were awarded a Green Flag ten years ago thanks to a colourful display of over 30,000 flowers and plants, and the many memorial sites that acknowledge some of the city’s most famous alumni.
Leave time for The Real Mary King’s Close, the city’s only preserved 17th-century street and a must-see. Imagine a subterranean warren of streets frozen in time, where centuries of stories are waiting to be told. Along the tour, you’ll discover Edinburgh's dark past and find out what it was really like for the people who lived, worked and died on the close.
Have dinner at The Witchery
As well as being a top hotel, The Witchery is one of the most atmospheric settings for dinner in the city. Guests can relax with a bottle of champagne in their room before enjoying a meal in either the oak-panelled 16th-century dining room – which is always bathed in candlelight – or the elegant Secret Garden room with a hand-painted ceiling, plenty of antiques and secluded terrace. Both menus celebrate the best of Scottish produce: expect dishes like steak tartare with burnt onion mayo; a seafood platter of lobster, langoustine, oysters, clams, mussels and crab; and bitter chocolate tart with blood orange sorbet.
Order a drink at The White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
Just down the Royal Mile, The White Horse is a great place for a nightcap. One of the older inns in Edinburgh, it serves seasonal small plates and – as its full name suggests – a great selection of locally caught seafood. It’s also one of our picks for a cocktail – we love the Rockpool Martini, made with Haku vodka, fennel-infused sauvignon and oyster leaf.