We arrived at Edinburgh Waverly Station via train from York, UK for a one week stay prior to our Rick Steves’ Best of Scotland tour. We always like to come in early to a beginning destination to get over jetlag and to give us more time to see the city. From our short time here, we have come to regard Edinburgh as one of our favorite cities and we would happily return someday.
We tried to book our stay at the same hotel that the RS tour was using, but they could not put us for a complete week pre-tour, and it was also outrageously expensive. We found a spacious Airbnb called Coinye House Close for less money (not cheap, but worth it for what we got) and it was a spacious one-bedroom apartment for two people. It had a separate kitchen, dining area and nicely furnished living room. It had a washer, which was a “must have” for us, and Wi-Fi (albeit slow speeds).
The apartment was just 280 feet off the Royal mile down a pedestrian passageway called South Gray’s Close and it was the perfect location to be able to walk everywhere. It was ½ mile to Edinburgh Castle on the uphill side and ½ mile to Holyrood Palace on the downhill. Our bright and airy 2nd floor apartment had nice views of an inner garden courtyard on one side and St. Patrick’s church on the other side.
On this forum about 6 months ago, someone asked where they should stay in Edinburgh and when I suggested they look into this place along the Royal Mile, I was shot down by locals telling me that the location was too noisy and not a very nice area to stay and that a better place to stay was over a mile away in the quiet neighborhoods either North or South of the royal mile at a similarly priced B&B. They recommended the person take the bus in every day. Well, I want to tell you they were wrong! Despite being 280 feet from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile, the apartment was quiet and serene and in a safe area. Because of the location, we ended up attending late night Fringe Events at venues along the Royal Mile and the University and walked back to our apartment each evening, which is something we would not do or could have done if we had to take a bus to and from our lodgings each day and night. For us, the convenience of a good location justified the higher price. And yes, during August, most Edinburgh lodgings raise their prices due to the high demand. Because we knew that, we booked this place as soon as we booked the RS tour.
From the train station, it was a short 10-15-minute walk to the AirBnB. We rode the lift up from the station platform to Market Street on the South (Old town) side and wheeled our luggage through the heavy rain following the route our host gave us and met our host at the apartment.
We rested until evening before walking to the Grass Market area to eat dinner at the Beehive Inn. Since this was our first day in Edinburgh, I let Apple Maps direct us to the area. It had us walk down to Cowgate Road and along this flat road to Grassmarket. Cowgate is an ugly area where all the cheap hostels and seedy pubs are located, and after our walk along the dirty streets on narrow sidewalks, my wife told me not to take this route again. She would rather walk up hill along the Royal mile and then downhill to wherever we were going, to avoid Cowgate and for the rest of the week, that’s what we did.
We had pub food at the crowded Beehive Inn because the Literary Pub tour, which we booked in advance, was to start there in an upstairs room at 7:30 pm. As we discovered, at pubs you order and pay for your food and drink at the bar and they bring it out to your table. I never understood the procedure for leaving a tip, or whether we should leave a tip if you order at the bar in a pub. At restaurants, the handheld credit card processors all gave an option to add a tip, the pubs we visited did not.