There is a coolness in the air and a change of light in the city. Although I’ve tried my best to clinch onto the last moments of summer, the browning and falling of the leaves are announcing that Autumn has truly arrived. Already, the weather hasn’t been too kind, however us Scots are used to that, and it doesn’t stop us from embracing and enjoying what the city has to offer. Importantly it hasn’t taken away the beauty that the city exudes come rain or shine, however somewhat enhances Edinburgh’s natural mystique.
Just because its Autumn it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom! Edinburgh has a certain charm when the sun sets early. Take a rainy walk in old town where the cobbled streets shine like black leather and the small sache windows glow with warm light from inside. Wander through the many gardens and woodlands to enjoy the fresh air against your skin and take in the musky sweet smell of brown leaves that pile up around every corner. However, if that’s not your cup of tea and the autumnal outdoors are not for you, then this post is the perfect read.
In previous blog posts, I have written about my favourite outdoor spots to go in the city. However as the cold weather sets in, Edinburgh is also full of cosy indoor spots to eat, drink, wander and explore. So as the alfresco seating is packed away I thought I would give you my recommendations of places to visit in Edinburgh on a ‘dreich’ (wet, cold and misty) day. I hope you get the same feeling as you get when sitting in front of an open fire or putting on warm socks on a frosty day, while visiting my favourite places in Edinburgh.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Queen Street.
The beautiful gothic style building of the National Portrait Gallery stands out from the crowd due of its architecture and difference in the colour of stone compared to most buildings in Edinburgh. As you walk in you will understand why this is a great place to escape the cold. The warmth encompasses you the minute you wander into the entrance, with its cosy lighting and low hanging lanterns and dramatically lightened marble sculptures. As you look up, the roof is bejewelled with painted stars and various artwork.
Its delightfully warm carpeted stairways are adorned with beautiful stained glass windows and when the sun makes an appearance, the light floods in creating a stream of colours that cuts through the air as if creating a form of art itself.
Let us not forget why you came though, veer slowly through the different levels of the building and view the astounding collection of artwork from different periods in history. Like most galleries there is a peacefulness to the place that I love, but this building exudes a deeper allurement for me somehow. After you have roamed the many different areas of the building, take your time to sit and enjoy some coffee and cake in their lovely cafeteria surrounded by arched windows and exposed the red brick.
Monteiths, High Street.
Tucked away at the bottom of the Royal Mile is the small but perfectly formed; Monteiths.
As you make your way through an archway of entwined branches that delicately adorned with twinkling fairy lights, you enter the door way and step down the stairs into this basement boutique cocktail bar and restaurant. You feel immediately relaxed as you enter this cosy and intimate space. Montieths is garnished with touches of Scottish design such as tartan covered seating, wall mounted antlers and finished off with a modern touch of metal and wood.
The bar area is small and refined and you can either sit at the bar or enjoy the small tables scattered around with cosy armchairs and enjoy one of their inventive cocktails. For coffee lovers I recommend their delicious Espresso Martini. Of course if you want to stay longer, their restaurant serves delicious selection of heart-warming food.
The Dome, George Street.
This extravagant building situated on the prestigious George Street is a fantastic place to have a coffee or drink, whilst people watching and enjoy the decadent and cosy atmosphere. As you walk up the stairs, through the wooden rotating doors you are immediately greeted with a large sparkling and glamorous chandelier, marble floors and oversized vases of fresh flowers that delicately scent the air.
Walk into the main bar area and your breath is taken away by the size and grandeur of this place. With its large domed roof, central circular bar, restaurant and numerous tables, you can sit and enjoy a drink or two. For a large space it still scores high on the cosy factor, with its warm mood lighting, dark marble pillars, stained glass windows and candle lit tables.
Enjoy a pot of coffee or tea in a lovely china cup with one of their delicious cakes or treat yourself to one of their exquisitely tasting cocktails, whilst soaking up the luxurious surroundings. I especially love this place nearer Christmas time where the smell of cinnamon resonates throughout the air, the pillars are draped in twinkling icicles and upon the circular bar stands an impressively decorated Christmas tree with its lights illuminating the dome with a multitude of colours.
After an autumnal stroll along the water of Leith, through Stockbridge and onto Canonmills, you will stumble across the organic restaurant and store; Earthy’s. Outside, you will be welcomed with small carts filled to the brim with seasonal vegetables or plants.
As you walk in, the cosy atmosphere immediately envelopes you, with wooden floors and tables decorated with small flowers, candles lit and atmospheric lighting. Why not take a window seat while you grab on to your warm steaming coffee and a slice of their delicious and ever changing selection of cakes (my most recent favourite being the rose and cardamom) and watch the world go by outside. Enjoy a pleasant lunch or dinner with their vast menu filled with organic, nutritious and wholesome foods to keep you going for the rest of the day. If you can peel yourself away from the table and the food, take a wander around their little shop chock-full of delicious nutritious foods. Grab some of their freshly baked bread and purchase some fresh seasonal vegetables.
Colonnades at The Signet Library, The Royal Mile.
Located in Edinburgh’s Old Town near the famous Royal Mile is the beautiful 19th century building; The Signet Library. Inside this welcoming and historic location is Colonnades. Set in the lower library of this fascinating establishment is a perfect place to eat and drink. What is more comforting than enjoying a steaming hot coffee, delicious cocktail or great quality food in the midst of a selection of beautiful old books and neo-classical architecture. The library feels grand and opulent yet its calming atmosphere provides a peaceful haven away from the crowds and traffic outside.
The large Corinthian columns that surround the central salon tower above you while you tuck into some deliciously prepared food, delicately remind you of its history.
I highly recommend their slow cooked haunch of red deer, sweet potato, savoy cabbage, gingerbread, hazelnut and star anise. To follow, try their delicious and artistically displayed dessert of Dark chocolate Sacher sponge, beetroot compote, sorbet, cocoa soil and aged balsamic. A true gem in the middle of the city and a definite autumnal treat in such a cosy and luxurious building.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog post and see what Edinburgh has to offer over the festive season.