My trip to Scotland didn’t want to happen. Both of my flights got canceled, and I ended up traveling by train up and taking a delayed flight to another airport back. But sometimes a difficult journey makes the time spent in a place all the sweeter, and my 24 hours in Edinburgh were no exception.
I was invited up to Scotland by the Dalmahoy, a Marriott Hotel and Country Club in Edinburgh, which was located near the city in acres of woodland and golf courses. The hotel, a historic Baronial manor house, put me and my fellow travelers up in spacious rooms in the main house, all of which were tartaned out and properly Scottish.
Despite arriving seven hours late, we were given time to settle into our rooms after a warm welcome. Mine had two large windows with views of golfing greens, lakes, and Edinburgh Castle in the distance.
Inside, dark wood furniture and classic paintings surrounded a massive bed, which was on the other side of a wall from the largest bathroom I’ve ever seen. It even had its own fireplace.
After getting settled in, I met my group in the bar. Cozy as could be, it was filled with overstuffed chairs, wooden tables, and tartan pillows. While we enjoyed G&Ts, a bagpiper set the scene with a musical welcome to Scotland. He even piped us up the stairs to dinner, which we enjoyed in a private dining room.
The food was excellent. Ranging from fresh, flavorful smoked salmon to perfectly cooked lamb, it was a great taste of local cuisine. For dessert we were treated to cranachan, a traditional sweet ending made with cream, whisky, honey, and oats.
But the Scottish culinary immersion didn’t end with dinner. Back down in the bar, we did a whisky tasting. From single malt to cocktails and chocolate pairings, we learned a lot of the basics and sampled a range of flavors.
The next morning we awoke to gloriously sunny weather, which was a welcome treat after thick fog in London the day before. We ate a buffet breakfast in the restaurant, which had great views across the golf course, and then headed over to the spa for treatments.
The spa was located in a newer building attached to the main hotel. It housed everything from a huge pool to a spacious restaurant and large bar. The pint-size spa was quite a bit smaller than the other areas, though.
My massage was relaxing, but the table didn’t have a face cradle, so my neck was sore afterwards. Still, I couldn’t complain about an otherwise good spa experience.
The rest of our 24 hours in Edinburgh were spent in the city itself. We hopped in a taxi at the hotel and arrived 30 minutes later. I met up with my friend Kash of BudgetTraveller fame, who gave me a tour of some of his favorite parts of the Royal Mile and the area around Edinburgh Castle.
Despite having been there multiple times, I saw a lot of Edinburgh that I hadn’t discovered before. Kash first took me to a secret garden just off the Royal Mile that had beautiful manicured flora and great views of Calton Hill.
Near the castle, he pointed out Adam Smith’s grave, the old city walls, and the location of the historic city gates, which were marked out on the street near the World’s End pub.
Further up, he showed me a stone heart inlaid in the sidewalk that some locals spit on as they pass (and we got a very timely example of it as one man walked up, stopped, dropped some saliva, and moved on).
After admiring the castle, which I toured on my last trip to Edinburgh, we walked down a set of steep steps to Grassmarket, a large square where public hangings used to take place on a round stone. The square is now known for its nightlife, where people can have a pint at the Last Drop, a pub where the condemned supposedly had their final pint before being strung up.
From Grassmarket, we walked up Victoria Street, one of the prettiest shopping streets in Edinburgh, past the Elephant House cafe, where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter novels, and over to Greyfriars Kirkyard, where a monument and grave to Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal dog that remained by his master’s grave for years after his death, were located.
After a stroll through the grounds, it was time to meet back up with my group at Spoon cafe, another place that claimed to have hosted J.K. Rowling while she wrote the Harry Potter books. Spoon had a lovely vintage feel, with mismatched chairs and china teacups.
My feta and zucchini fritters with potato and pea shoot salad and my side of chunky chips smothered in cheddar were exactly what I needed to warm up and get sustenance for the long journey home to London.
And long it was. My flight to City airport was canceled due to fog, so I ended up traveling on a later flight to Heathrow. But I got home in the end, and I would have endured the transport issues again for another 24 hours in Edinburgh. I might have to, too, as I’m planning to go back again in not too long. Exciting announcement coming soon…