by Beth Roberts
They say if love is the treasure, then laughter is the key – which might well be the reason so many couples will head to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. Starting on the 7th and lasting till the 31st, it’s the largest arts festival in the world, with over 2000 quirky shows and a host of stunning venues to choose from.
But there’s plenty on offer in this seductive Scottish city to keep the spark alive besides the stand-up. With cobble stoned streets for strolling hand-in-hand, swoon-worthy scenery and fairytale castles, Edinburgh was made for a romantic escape. So here’s our guide to the best of the rest of the fest: everything you need for a great couples getaway…
Where to Stay
Finding a place to stay during the festival can be difficult, as the city swells with tourists from all over the world. Here are our top picks for a truly sensual stay…
1. The Witchery
Feeling extravagant? This decadent gothic den on The Royal Mile is sheer seduction. From sumptuous roll top baths to four-poster beds draped in velvet and silks, the nine suites are the last word in baroque glamour. You needn’t worry about sleeping in either – breakfast is served in a hamper in your suite, with a bottle of bubbly of course.
Old meets new in this boutique hotel, set behind the historic facade of the Lady Glenorchy Church. Each room boasts floor to ceiling glass windows and with the Playhouse just next door, you’ll have time to see a show before popping up to the hotel’s rooftop garden to enjoy a sundowner with views out over the city.
Georgian grandeur combines with contemporary elegance in this hotel, all airy sash windows and billowing velvet curtains. Opt for a cheeky jacuzzi suite to really reconnect.
Nestled below Arthur’s Seat, this wood-panelled boudoir hideaway has the feel of a country retreat, but is just five minutes from the city centre. Play Lord and Lady in the stately home’s four poster beds or stroll the well-manicured grounds.
If you’re planning on splurging on tickets to the shows instead of your stay, why not check out Airbnb? Edinburgh has a wealth of beautiful properties, from pretty Victorian terraces to more modern apartments right in amongst hustle and bustle of the festival. Nab a studio with castle views, or an apartment on the Royal Mile for less than £60.
Where to Eat and Drink
Though it might come as a surprise to some, Scotland’s culinary delights extend further than haggis and deep fried mars bars – and Edinburgh’s gourmet scene rivals that of any European city. Here’s our pick of the best places for that romantic rendezvous…
A heavenly little spot in the old town, this 17th-century building is lavish in rich bronze and marble. Overlooking the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile, dine al fresco while you take in the various street performances during the festival.
2. The Castle Terrace
Just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh’s imposing hilltop castle, this is Michelin-starred dining in the heart of the city. Enjoy the warmest of atmospheres and a steal of a set lunch menu for just £25.
3. The Witchery
This 16th-century merchants house showcases Scottish produce in the unparalleled setting of its candle-lit gothic dining room. While it might be a little on the pricey side, there’s a pre and post theatre menu which means you can catch a bargain before or after the evening shows.
4. The Outsider
Locals come to The Outsider not for the reasonably priced food but for the views, which are some of the best in Edinburgh. Be sure to secure a coveted window seat to dine with classic views of the floodlit castle.
Cuddle up in one of the cubbyholes in this sophisticated speakeasy. With leather, low- lighting and indulgent cocktails, there’s no better place to end the night.
What to do
With an intriguing history, breathtakingly beautiful scenery and timeless old-world charm, there’s plenty of rom-com worthy moments to be had in the city in between Fringe Festival shows.
1. Explore Edinburgh Castle
For any romantic weekend, this fairytale fortress is a must. Conquer the battlements for unsurpassed views out over the city skyline to the distant Firth of Forth. During the festival, catch the musical, military extravaganza of the Tattoo every day except Sunday. You’ll need tickets in advance for the rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne and the poignant bagpipe players in the Castle Esplanade, but those without can still enjoy the spectacular fireworks that conclude every performance.
2. Walk the Royal Mile
The historic heart of Edinburgh, during August the Royal Mile is alive with street theatre and tasters of the many eclectic performances. If the hustle and bustle get too much, escape into one of the picturesque closes and ‘wynds’ that run off the Mile, admiring the hundred year-old buildings of the old town or popping into one of the many intimate pubs and specialist shops.
3. Take a Ghost Tour
Nothing says romance like clutching onto each other in the dark. Explore an occult edge to the city’s history with a ghost tour – from the catacombs beneath South Bridge to Greyfriars Graveyard – allegedly home to malevolent poltergeist ‘Bloody Mackenzie’ and former stomping ground of the infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare. Thankfully, there’s plenty of pubs nearby if you need to steady your nerves!
4. Climb Arthur’s Seat
Walking up the grassy knolls of this iconic hill is an enchanting experience no couple should forgo. Take a bottle of wine and a picnic and make it to the top in time for sunset, where you’ll be treated to the most sensational views of the city skyline, turrets and twisting spires gleaming in the sunset – swoon.
5. Get Tipsy with a Whisky Tasting
If there’s one thing Scots know how to do, its whisky. Edinburgh is jam-packed with bars where you can sample a few wee drams of the hard stuff, like The Scotch Whisky Experience, which houses the world’s largest collection. Should you need something to soak it all up, private dinners can also be arranged in the elegant surroundings.