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Reservations for late Sept/early Oct & recommendations

I'm reading that many make reservations for restaurants, museums and castles.

There will be 4 of us travelling in UK the last week in Sept and the first week in Oct. We will be driving.

  • We will be in Leicester, York, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Stirling, Inveraray, Oban, Glencoe as well as misc along the way.
  • My husband and I will have 4 more days which we will spend in the Aryshire/Dumfries/Galloway area.

Do we need to preplan so specifically and make reservations for these locations during that time of the travel season? With 4 of us, and the tight timing, I realize that we need to reserve accommodations. (Hopefully it's not too late.)

I appreciate any guidance, including restaurant/accommodation recommendations for specific locations. We do have both England and Scotland RS but I know there may be gems y'all have found. I appreciate the restaurant recommendations I've already gleaned from the posts, and especially welcome recommends for any vegetarian friendly restaurants.

Posted by
81 posts

I always follow the adage that if you want to do something, book. If you aren't too bothered, play it by ear.

Certain things can be a lot easier with a booking - for example it's a lot easier to get into Edinburgh Castle with a ticket rather than queueing on the day. it tends to be the busier places.

For Edinburgh I would always recommend Kitchin - it is finer dining (it has a Michelin star) but is worth every penny

Posted by
2057 posts

I'll be there about a month before you and I've pre-booked Edinburgh Castle.

Posted by
164 posts

GT: It would be a splurge to eat at Kitchin, but I can see it's a very special place---we may need to make a reservation as we get our itinerary finalized.

roubrat: Thanks. It looks as if October dates aren't available yet, so my daughter will need to check back. I'm pretty sure my husband and I won't be doing E. Castle (even though it's been 22 years since we were there) but I know my daughter wants to return (she was just a 11).

Thank you for your responses.

Posted by
3111 posts

The Tower Restaurant in the National Museum (separate entrance) is white tablecoth high end, but we saw some parties dressed in jeans and sneakers so they apparently don't have a dress code. We happened to time it so the sun was setting over the city skyline. The waiter even suggested I go out on the terrace to get a photo without the window reflections. Food and drink were excellent, service superb. We booked our reservation the morning of the day we ate there. Would go again any time!

Posted by
1590 posts

It works out slightly cheaper to buy tickets for Edinburgh Castle on line. Check the website before visiting to see how many tickets they still have available and whether you need to book in advance or if there are lots of tickets still available. Morning slots do sell out more quickly than afternoon slots.

Theere shouldn't be problems in late September/early October to book tickets . I would book restaurants in advance.

Posted by
1430 posts

We were in Scotland from May 30 to June 15. I had read and had been told it would be wise to make dinner reservations in advance because June is a popular time for Scotland. Restaurants are short-staffed and some have reduced hours. In Edinburgh, we really like the following restaurants:
Makars Mash Bar - one of our favorites; a couple came in at the same time as us (didn't have reservations) and were told they had an hour long wait.
Dishoom - fabulous Indian food; they don't take dinner reservations but they do for lunch; so we had a late lunch there; when we left around 4PM, a line was forming for dinner
Kao Pao - another favorite; very busy
Mussels Inn - very busy
Cafe Royal - wonderful Victorian bar and pub; very popular

In Edinburgh, we stayed at the Ibis St. Andrews Square which is very convenient to sightseeing and restaurants.

For Glen Coe, we stayed at the Glencoe Inn. Very happy with our accommodations. We ate at their restaurant called The Gathering; excellent food; one of our favorites
We also ate at Clachaig Inn - good pub food but we preferred The Gathering.

We reserved The Royal Mile Tour in Edinburgh with Mercat Tours. Included tickets to Edinburgh Castle along with an introductory tour. So we were able to skip the line.

Pre-purchased tickets for Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle and Elgin Cathedral. Probably not necessary to pre-purchased for Elgin but glad we did for Stirling and Urquhart.

Posted by
5808 posts

Last September into October the only place we booked ahead of time was Edinburgh Castle where we bought our Historic Environment for Scotland annual pass. After that, we just walked up and the bar code was scanned. Edinburgh Castle was the only place that was very busy and a reservation was needed.

Edinburgh was the only city that restaurant reservations were needed if you wanted a specific restaurant. If the restaurant didn’t matter, there were plenty to choose from. The problem with trying to make advance restaurant reservations when driving is you probably won’t know for certain what time you’re arriving at a location. I believe it was Alnwick where we had to go to three restaurants before we found one that had seating for our party of four. It was only a minor inconvenience since we enjoyed walking around town.

Posted by
5105 posts

I highly recommend Dishoom in Edinburgh. You can make reservations for lunch but not dinner, and there are always lines at dinner. But the food is fabulous! I also had a wonderful Italian meal at Amarone, off St. Andrew Square. And if you like fish and chips, try Berties Proper Fish & Chips on the Royal Mile and have some wonderful battered haddock with a beer. :)

I also recommend Darnley Coffee House in Stirling. It's in a historic building and the cafe is in these barrel vault rooms that are very interesting. You can get a cream tea or a regular lunch (I did both) and it was great. It was also frequented by quite a few locals, who I wound up chatting with, and they recommended it highly.

Posted by
96 posts

Thirding the recommendation for Dishoom and noting that you can also make reservations there for breakfast, as I did. The menu will be somewhat different from the all-day menu that starts at noon, but the food will still be delicious, the service excellent, and the setting lovely.

Also in Edinburgh, I can recommend:
- Howies on Waterloo Place, my go-to for dinner (there’s another Howies on Victoria Street, in the Old Town, under the same ownership, but I didn’t eat there, so can’t vouch for it). Well-prepared Scottish food at a reasonable price.
- Educated Flea on Broughton Street. Creative, high-quality cuisine with international accents.
- Loudons New Waverley, a solid choice for breakfast, brunch, and lunch just off the Royal Mile.

Posted by
5808 posts

To clarify, Bertie's Proper Fish & Chips is on Victoria St., not the Royal Mile. The fish was good. A reservation is recommended although we got in after about a 10 minutes wait.

Posted by
5105 posts

jaimeelsabio, I knew it wasn't exactly on the Royal Mile but was too lazy to look it up (it's been a long day). :) Thanks for posting the correct street!

Posted by
164 posts

Thanks, everyone! Looks like we definitely need to get into Dishoom!

Posted by
4055 posts

Ayrshire and D & G are much less touristed areas. Especially in the autumn/fall it is very unlikely that you will need advance reservations, even for restaurants. And I wouldn't have thought you would have any real difficulty in finding accommodation there either.