It’s easy to book a self catering break in Edinburgh. Just go to Greatbase. They really do have the best properties there, from ones near the Royal Mile in the Old Town for new visitors to ones in Stockbridge and the New Town for those more familiar with the City who fancy something a bit more peaceful. We stayed in St Bernard’s Crescent, one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian streets.
Over the last few years, I have stayed in three of their properties, the Storytelling Apartment, right on the Royal Mile and in the middle of all the tourist activity, Heriot Row, a stately first floor flat overlooking Queens Gardens which was palatially huge and elegant with a single bedroom as well as the double and St Bernard’s Crescent, in Stockbridge, a ground floor flat,with an integral kitchen in the living room, hidden behind solid wooden doors.
It was beautifully renovated, comfortable and well equipped and and even though we were three in April, it was unusually warm and sunlight streamed through the front windows. It’s an easy bus ride to Princes Street or a short but uphill walk and happily downhill on the way home. It means that in the evening you are close to the pubs and restaurants in Raeburn Place such as the Scran and Scallie.
Raeburn Place is brilliant for shopping. There are small supermarkets for but more importantly, a butcher’s, bakers, fishmonger and a cheesemonger, the renowned I J Mellis who supply many of Edinburgh’s top restaurants. The marvellous thing about self catering was that we could buy a selection of cheeses together with some quince paste, Abernethy butter and a grainy sourdough bread and then just have them for lunch back at the flat.
St Bernards Crescent is only a couple of minutes from the walk along the Water of Leith. We walked to the Gallery of Modern Art along the tree lined path through a gorge under Dean Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford, and built in 1832. It really doesn’t feel as if you are in a city.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is split into two different sites on either side of the road, now called Modern One and Modern Two, which may still be called The Gallery of Modern Art and the Deans Road Gallery in old guide books. Modern One houses works from the permanent collection and Modern Two has a changing programme of exhibitions. They are both set in parkland and are dotted with sculptures works form artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Anthony Gormley and Henry Moore
The lawn to the front of Modern One was re-landscaped in 2002 to a design by Charles Jencks. It’s a landform of curving grassy banks and three crescent shaped pools of water. It’s beguiling to watch the shadows of the clouds as they move across and it seems as if everything is both still but also transient.
Another place to visit is the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s free to get in but you have to pay extra to go in the greenhouses. There’s something to see at all times of year. We saw the blossoms and the azaleas. There’s a famous view that you can see at this time of year before the leaves come out of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town.
Hints and Tips
- Investigate flying to get there.
- My plane ticket on Ryanair from Stansted to Edinburgh cost £22. It cost me more to get to Stansted from my house!
- There’s a brilliant bus that runs between the National Gallery in Princes Street and the Gallery of Modern Art. It has a voluntary donation of £1 and the timetable is here.
- The Art galleries all have really good, reasonably priced cafes, each with their own personalities. The Portrait Gallery has soups, a couple of main courses, interesting salads exceedingly good cakes
- Book in advance for the really good value set lunches at Michelin restaurants such as the Kitchin, Castle Terrace, and Martin Wishart
- Other well regarded restaurants include Timberyard and the Gardeners Cottage.