Welcome to Scotland. Home to just five million people, it is a country with plenty of open green spaces and watery expanses. However, for the first stop of our trip, we decided for a landscape a little more familiar. Our hotel for the night? The delightful Ballantrae Albany Hotel, located just ten minutes from Waverley train station.
Housed within several listed terrace buildings, the hotel is perfectly located a short walk from the new city centre. Unlike larger hotels, it feels much more like a residence, and coming “home” in the evening involved a pleasant stroll down cobbled streets to a slightly unassuming front door. No valet parking or “look, I’m a tourist” themes here.
For the night, we stayed in a double en-suite room. It had all of the mod-cons you would expect in a modern hotel (including a TV in the bath for the more indulgent guest), and was actually surprisingly roomy for a townhouse conversion. The beds in particular were very comfortable and overall we were very impressed with the quality of the hotel. Inspection over, it was then time to discover Edinburgh in the few hours of the day we had left. Top of the single-item list was to be Edinburgh Castle.
Now, there are numerous guide books and review of Edinburgh Castle that you can find on sites like TripAdvisor and Visit Scotland, so I won’t bore you all with endless details of our castle tour. I’ll just say that it is definitely worth a visit, and the castle walls overlook new Edinburgh below so, even if it is just for the spectacular view, the castle comes highly recommended. A couple of hours is enough time to walk around the exhibitions and be sure to stop at the on-site Benugo restaurant and nab a window seat for lunch with a view.
With the sun beginning to lazily fall towards the horizon, the walk down from the castle provided a few more opportunities for some picturesque shots. The architecture in Edinburgh is very impressive to say the least; unscathed from any attacks during World War Two, the buildings ooze history and the slightly Gothic architecture is reminiscent of an almost-Parisian skyline.
After craning our necks up towards the sky in the fading light, it was time for dinner at the highly-recommended Devil’s Advocate and then an early night. The next day would mark the beginning of our mini-road trip through a much wilder Scotland….