Credit: The Scotch Whisky Experience
We fly into Edinburgh in the early afternoon, and the buzz of the Fringe Festival is present from the moment we hit the runway and especially as we begin a walk through the city. The sun is shining, street performers circle the sidewalks, and traffic is exceptionally terrible.
The latter results in us missing our first activity - a visit to The Scotch Whisky Experience. The five-star visitor venue is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has welcomed an impressive five million visitors through its doors since opening in May 1988. Tours explore the whisky-making process and its different regional influences, with the attraction representing 95% of Scottish whisky producers. Visitors can enjoy a myriad of blends in the building's dedicated whisky bar, which offers gorgeous views across the city skyline. Alas, missing out this time provides ample reason to return to Edinburgh as soon as possible.
In search of a late lunch, we head to Victoria Street and visit one of my favourite foodie spots in the world: Oink. This tiny sandwich bar offers fresh hog roast sandwiches from its own range of Scottish Border farms, and can be recognised from the fully-sized pig displayed roasting in its window each day. It's a treat not to be missed, but make sure you get down early: when the roast is finished, the shop closes for the day.
Next, our journey takes us to comedy at The Beehive Inn in the trendy Grassmarket area of the city. After browsing around the nearby market of arts, crafts and gastronomy, we head inside the popular pub and see a free performance entitled 'Jokes' by upcoming comedian John Gavin. Intimate but well attended, the show provides an excellent start to our Edinburgh Festival experience.
Credit: Lauren Razavi
With our sides still aching from a good giggle, we head to the Pommery Champagne Café Bar for a spectacular dinner of whole lobster accompanied by a glass of extra-dry Pommery Falltime champagne. Everything presented is perfectly prepared and of exceptionally high quality. Just a jump off of the Royal Mile, the Pommery pop up is located in the beautiful confines of The Signet Library and offers a delectable fine dining experience in the heart of the festival frenzy. The stunning architecture of the building along with the company of books all around make this a completely unique and utterly delightful atmosphere.
The final stop on our whirlwind tour of Edinburgh is a quirky cocktail bar called Dragonfly, also in Grassmarket and just the right distance away from the centre of the night time festival antics. An extensive selection of cocktails adopt new, amusing and Scottish titles in this award-winning independent bar. This spot will appeal to newbie bright young things and seasoned cocktail-connoisseurs alike. After sampling a selection of Dragonfly's greatest concoctions, our brief stint in Edinburgh comes to a close. The following day, we will head north to travel across the Scottish Highlands and Islands - more to follow on that soon.
We stayed at the Salisbury Green Hotel, a 3* located in a restored 18th century mansion with manicured gardens to complement. Each room is decorated in modern style with designs reflecting the atmosphere and history of the building's architecture. The complex is part of the University of Edinburgh and also offers conference facilities on-site. Its breakfast spread is a real highlight - whether you're in the mood for fresh fruit, delicious pastries or a full Scottish breakfast (haggis included), it's all here.
Across the street is The Salisbury Arms, another of Edinburgh's fantastic foodie hotspots and an esteemed haunt for travellers and locals alike. This pub and restaurant has charming décor and a village tavern feel with a modern twist; it's cosy, sophisticated and quirky all at the same time. The restaurant's extensive menu of mouth-watering seasonal food combined with a fine selection of wines, spirits and cask ales earmarks The Salisbury Arms as a top place to experience Scottish food and drink culture at its utmost best.
For more information about Edinburgh and Scotland or help planning your own trip, have a look at the VisitScotland website here.
Visit Lauren's blog Take on the Road for more travel and food stories.