WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Weekend Getaway: Edinburgh

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When I visited Edinburgh for the first time it was in the middle of February. It was cold and dark and wet — but it was so beautiful. The cold and the darkness suited the city and there was always a warm, cosy pub close by if we needed to warm up. I loved it so much that I even convinced my big brother to go study there just so that I could come and visit!

I am super happy that Kristina and Graham, the owner of the lovely Bon Tot children’s boutique, took some time out to put together a weekend getaway guide for us. Edinburgh is the perfect destination to visit for a weekend — it is small enough to navigate easily and it has everything from a castle in the centre of town to great shops and restaurants.

Bon Tot is run by husband and wife team, Kristina and Graham. An expat American, Kristina has lived in Edinburgh for 10 years and was a chocolatier before setting up their one of a kind boutique Bon Tot. Graham is an architect by day, born and bred in Scotland. Along with their 3-year-old chief product tester, and daughter, Clemence and their French Bulldog, Frisco, they curate a collection of modern, unisex kids clothing and toys, sourced from small makers around the globe.

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And here are their tips on how to discover Edinburgh as a family. It is an amazing list, packed full of insider tips. I actually have been having a peek at the flights to Edinburgh while writing the introduction to this post — Edinburgh here we come! 😉

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Edinburgh is a compact, family-friendly city that you can cross by foot in an hour. However, within that hour’s walk, you’ll find the vibrancy and life of a much denser metropolis. With a rich history and thriving cultural scene, Edinburgh appeals to a wide range of age groups. Four universities and two art colleges keep the many cafes, bars, music halls and galleries bustling and busy until the small hours of the morning, while the seven hills and many parks and gardens that snake through the city mean there are plenty of places to meander, walk and play. Add in a medieval castle perched right in the middle of it all, and there’s a lot to talk about!

It’s perfect for kids and it has a design conscious, independent heart, beating just below the surface.

The weather can definitely be a challenge shall we say, so when people come to visit us, we always try to plan a mix of indoor and outdoor activities to cover all bases. Edinburgh has a booming food and drink culture, so don’t worry, there will be lots of stops to refuel too!

Edinburgh is handily split into The Old Town (medieval nooks and crannies, tumbling down the rocky ridge from the Castle at the top, to Holyrood Palace at the bottom) and The New Town (grand Georgian avenues; classically ordered around statesmanlike Squares and gardens). The two sides are divided by what used to be The Nor’ Loch. Originally part of the historic Castle’s defences, but drained when the New Town was planned in the 18th Century and now forming Princes Street Gardens, a sequence of open parks in the middle of the City. (Also a great play-park at the west end.)

OLD TOWN DAY:

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You can grab your morning pick me up at Century General Store; an independent general goods store, lovingly curated by Stephen, with an excellent in house barista. If your legs are feeling good, then you can take your babyccino up Salisbury Crags for a great view of the city. Dropping down, Hemma is a lovely, kid friendly place for brunch. Anna and Mike own a series of fabulous, and ultra child friendly, venues, inspired by their Scandinavian roots, and Hemma is one of our fave stops. Look out for their other offerings; Joseph Pearce’s, Boda Bar, Sophi’s and Akva as you wander the city. They are spread around town so you’re never too far from a great Swedish meatball dish!

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A wander past the Scottish Parliament building and up The Royal Mile to the Castle is pretty much an Edinburgh essential, and you can have THE best gelato in Edinburgh as your reward at the end. Meandering down Victoria Street into The Grassmarket you’ll find Mary’s Milk Bar. Mary is one of our daughter’s favourite people you’ll be unsurprised to hear!

The National Museum of Scotland is the perfect place to run off the sugar rush. To be honest, you could happily spend a whole day there; the exhibits for kids are fab. Make sure you go find out what animal matches your weight and head upstairs to dig for dinosaur bones.

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Finally, we’d suggest you find your very tired selves at Civerinos. Michele and his team have created a fun, dynamic, family friendly atmosphere, serving modern italian street food with bags of personality. You can grab your favourite slice from midday till the small hours, and there’s outside seating too if the sun gods decide to shine!

SHOPPING:

For Him: Walker Slater for a quick spot of tweed tailoring.
For Her: Hannah Zakari for some indie designer made accessories, jewellery and fashion. For the art lover: The Fruitmarket Gallery has a great selection of kids books, alongside some great artwork.
For a vintage twist: Armstrongs
Coffe, coffee, coffee: Brew Lab or Lovecrumbs

EAT, DRINK and BE MERRY
Drinks: You can catch a good old fashion folk music “session” at Sandy Bells or cocktails at The Devil’s Advocate if pie n’ pints aint your thing.
Book in advance: Gardeners Cottage for a 6 course set meal grown mostly in their own gardens.
Rock up and wait: Ting Thai Caravan for laid back, but spiced up street food.

NEW TOWN DAY:

This time, turn the other way from the Hotel and start with a walk down Broughton Street to grab your caffeine fix at Artisan Roast and then nose your way through some of our fave design stores; Curiouser and Curiouser, Life Storey, Concrete Wardrobe and Moleta Munro.

Our favourite local cafe/bistro is The Roamin’ Nose and so you might as well stop for an early lunch! I think we eat there more than we cook at home sometimes! Lucy and Stefano’s classic local spot is great for kids, although they also do the best pasta in Edinburgh in the evenings. They do child’s portions of main meals, so your child feels part of the party, and in a brand new and exciting twist, The Roamin Nose has just introduced the concept of the Roman ‘Aperitivo’ to Edinburgh! Note for those seeking the simple solace of a swing-set: George IV Park (known to locals as Scotland Street Park) is just behind Roamin Nose. It has a big kids park and a little kids one. There’s also a very special place called The Yard, that caters for disabled children during the week, but opens its doors (for a small fee) to the public on sundays. Its garden has a race track, with working traffic lights, climbing frames, sandpits and all sorts of fun things.

If the sun is shining, then picking up some snacks at Earthy Food and Goods and heading to The Botanic Gardens is a great way to spend some time and kids love the glasshouses in particular. There’s a great play-park at the Inverleith side, if you need to let the kids run around for a while.

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Either way, come rain or shine, you should make your way along to Stockbridge. Nestled around the Water of Leith (and with some excellent Duck pond action happening!) is Edinburgh’s home of independent trading. Cheese lovers can get their fix at George Mewes or Ian Mellis, while Mr Eoin Coffee Roasters is well worth a visit.

St Stephen Street is the focal point for the independents though, and in particular it’s where you’ll find Bon Tot! Come in and browse our collection, and if you bring a treat for our little French Bulldog, Frisco, he’ll be your pal for life!

St Stephen Street is filled with vintage, vinyl, furniture, fabrics, oil lamps (and more alcoholic lubrication) and the best independent bookshop in town in Golden Hare Books. There’s a great kids section at the back.

If you can bear to eat another morsel then local Michelin starred chef, Tom Kitchin’s gastro pub cuisine can be found just around the corner at The Scran at Scallie. The perfect treat to end the weekend, and it caters for families. The Pantry, heading in the other direction, is another super child friendly option, with a play area to the rear and a great fresh menu.

SHOPPING:

For Him: Kestin Hare has his original flagship store on St Stephen Street, or there’s The Brotique for some grooming essentials

For Her: Kakao by K is a little scandi gem, tucked up on Thistle Street, while Aesop has just opened its first Edinburgh boutique in Stockbridge.

For the Art Lovers: The Scottish Modern Gallery of Art has a great landscape installation outside for kids to run around on, and is a short walk from Stockbridge.

Harbour Hobbies is a very cool, very old fashioned toy and model shop on Leith Walk

For a vintage twist: Those Were The Days Vintage (our neighbours!)

EAT, DRINK and BE MERRY:

Book in advance: Wee Budha Asian fusion food in the cosiest atmosphere, with great cocktails and wine list.
Rock up and wait: El Cartel Tacos, tequilas and good times!
Drinks: The Last Word Saloon, or their Sister Bar, Lucky Liquor will keep you well hydrated!

One of the best parts of Edinburgh, due to its size, is actually how quick it is to get out of it. There are beautiful beaches just a short drive away, and lots more kid friendly parks and attractions to visit. We could write a whole other guide about that, and so hopefully a short, sharp, weekend burst will whet your appetite for more!

TIPS:

Arriving from Airport:
The Tram will cost around £5 per person and will take you right in to the centre of Edinburgh in around 40 mins. Children under 5 travel free. There is wifi on board to let you figure out your bearings on route. It’s reliable and there’s plenty space for bags and buggies.

– A taxi in to town is your other best bet. It will cost around £24 to get in to the centre of Edinburgh and will take 20 minutes in the early hours and around 45 mins to an hour in peak traffic. Taxis are used very regularly in Edinburgh, and Uber has arrived now too. They are usually happy to help with luggage and you can call and order. CityCabs is the best local operator.

Lothian Buses and Trams are free to under 5s in Edinburgh and are a pretty reliable way to get around. They have wifi and one dedicated buggy space per bus. They are used by locals and tourists so don’t be scared! You do need correct change though. £1.60 for an adult single ticket, £4.00 for an all day pass.

– Most museums are free, including the main Royal and Scottish Museums and many galleries. They are great ways to hop out of the rain, if you are lucky enough to get some “traditional” Scottish weather!!

– Here is another good tip: The weather is notoriously changeable, so a buggy cover is a good idea if you are bringing a buggy. A lightweight waterproof might end up being your best friend too!

– Most restaurants are child friendly and will have high chairs. Traditional pubs are less likely to, but they are an essential part of the Edinburgh experience! We’ll happily recommend some appropriate ones, and some great local beers!

STAY:

A perfect place to stay for families looking for a bit of comfort, at good value, right at the end of these gardens is The Apex Waterloo Place Hotel. It has a small swimming pool and spa, a good bar and a great breakfast.

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Waterloo Place is our fave all rounder, but Edinburgh has lots of options. For a bit more space there are higher end short stay apartments like The Chester Residence, or more budget friendly offerings like The Fraser Suites. You can splash out on grand, yet boutique style, a little out of town, at Prestonfield House, opt for city centre minimalism at The G&V (formerly The Missoni), or go local at The Raeburn, down by us in Stockbridge. If budget is key, then there are is a Holiday Inn at Picardy Place and Premier Inn Lauriston Place, and The Novotel (also on Lauriston Place) is a good option with kids, as it has a pool.)

 

Do let us know if you have any other tips to add to this (very detailed list), and thank you Kristina and Graham for taking the time to put this lovely guide together!

Emilie


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Comments (9)

Esther in Amsterdam
November 14, 2016

It sounds like such a beautiful, cosy and romantic city. I checked flights to Edinburg reading this too!! Let’s go together! xx


Emilie in Paris
November 15, 2016

YES!!! LET’S DO IT!!!!


Pam
November 14, 2016

Totally agree about Edinburgh as fantastic place for all ages. My family and I had the best weekend there. I’d like to add The Camera Obscura Museum to your list of must-see places.
We also camp north of Edinburgh in East Lothian and it’s become a yearly family tradition.


Anna Cohen
November 14, 2016

What a great review! I love how you listed accommodation for all budgets! I visited this city as a 18 year old – would love to go back as a Mum one day!


Emilie in Paris
November 15, 2016

Good to hear, we are going to push this on our next weekend away guides!


PL
November 14, 2016

Love this, thank you. So funny just had friends from Edinburgh visit us and we’re planning when to visit. This will come in handy.


November 14, 2016

[…] reading the Edinburgh weekend getaway guide we posted earlier today, I think we all wish we could spend a weekend in this amazing city! In […]


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Lara in Paris
November 18, 2016

Edinburgh looks so very charming!! Definitely on my travel list now! x


June 2, 2017

[…] the two sides are divided by a sequence of open parks in the middle of the city. Reading our kid-friendly Weekend Getaway guide of Edinburgh always makes me so eager to go and discover this beautiful city with […]


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