I love Edinburgh. If you know me personally, you have heard this a million times. (Sorry, not sorry.) Why do I love it so much? That’s an entire other post, but the short version is that the first time I went there, I felt so at home. The city spoke to my soul and it’s the same every time I visit. Given the opportunity – and if nothing was in my way financially or visa wise – I would happily live half the year there and half the year in Vancouver. I love it that much.
I also have some really lovely friends in Edinburgh, and staying with them each time has made me feel very local. So while I have done touristy things in Edinburgh, I usually just ‘live’ there and explore while my friends are at work. My Canadian girlfriends didn’t join me in until the second week of this recent trip, so while I had some time to myself during the day, I decided to switch it up and get properly touristy for a few days. But with a bit of a posh and royal spin. I hopped on a royal yacht, toured a fancy townhouse, and had Afternoon Tea with Champagne. Not too shabby.
Here are three places to feel posh in Edinburgh without breaking your budget. (Click to jump to your selection.)
The Royal Yacht Britannia
The Royal Yacht Britannia is your gateway to seeing how the British Royal Family used to travel. Because my friends live right near where the yacht is permanently moored, I have passed by this tourist attraction many times. I’ve even gone into the gift shop in Ocean Terminal (where the ticket office is) to buy postcards. But I’d never taken the time to get a ticket and explore it even though it’s been on my list for years. Shame on me because it’s worth the time to tour the boat and take in the view!
The Royal Yacht has been rated Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction for the last decade and there’s no wonder why; quality always shines through. And as magnificent as everything on the deck is (Sun Lounge, State Dining Room, HM the Queen’s Room) below deck is an organized maze that reminds you that it wasn’t just the Royal Family travelling on the boat; there was A LOT of crew and staff living on board. Hence the many bunks, extensive kitchen, many crew rooms, infirmary, and the OG laundry facility. (Which impressed me just as much as the Rolls Royce Phantom 5 on the upper deck.) There’s also a bit of fun sprinkled around the boat with cleverly placed stuffed Yottie bears. Oh, and a beautiful grand piano that made me want to sit down and plunk out the notes to ‘Rule Britannia’ on the sheet music. (I restrained myself.)
The multi-lingual audio tour is included with admission – use it. It is super informative and will prevent you from getting lost.
The Scottish built vessel wasn’t just for official royal travel, but a place for family vacations. Life on the boat was well documented and the photos show even the Queen at her most relaxed.
Colony Connection: The Royal Yacht visited Canada nine times. There are Canadian artifacts on the Britannia and in the Royal Collection that were gifts from its past visits to my country’s coasts. At the entrance to the exhibit, there is also a very large picture of Princess Diana with her arms wide open while her sons run to her. I was reminded that this photo was taken in Toronto on a visit in 1991. It’s always been one of my favourite royal photos because of the sheer joy on her face at seeing her kids, and I love it, even more, knowing it was snapped in Canada.
This is now a tick mark on my ‘things to see’ list, but if I were to do this again, I would a) buy some fudge from the shop (I regret not doing this!); and b) go earlier two hours earlier for the first tour of the day. I ended up with a gigantic tour group and it was a bit trying in a confined space. But it was also kind of fun to see how snap-happy they all were. Even more so than me!
My Granny was born in Jamaica when it was still a British colony and she was all about the Royals. She passed away twelve years ago, but I wish I could have shared the experience with her; she would have loved it. And we would have either gone for post-tour tea in Royal Deck Tea Room or taken a stroll back up along the water to Loch Fyne – one of my favourite restaurants in the city.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is located at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh. It is a stop on Edinburgh Bus Tour’s Majestic Tour, as well as on the Lothian Buses 11, 22 or 35 routes. Pricing varies, but if you’re a student, make sure you show your valid student card for a #GetThrifty discount! Hours, pricing and other information can be found at http://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk/.
The Georgian House
If you lived in 1790, Edinburgh’s New Town is where you wanted to live, and you probably had major house envy of the Lamont Family in their luxurious masterpiece of a townhouse.
Finery, silver, fabrics; no expense was spared when it was first bought and decorated by Scottish laird John Lamont. It boasts beautiful architecture and all the muted colours and tasteful features of its era. If you want to feel like a well-to-do heroine from a Jane Austen novel (I did), and even if you don’t, it’s absolutely worth a visit. Particularly at a #GetThrifty price of £7.50.
My favourite part of Georgian House was the kitchen with its copper pots and amazing fire spit. I do like a nice kitchen. I can only imagine what the cook had to go through, though, to make dinner for a fancy Georgian dinner party…
After passing through many hands of ownership, the townhouse is now maintained by the National Tust for Scotland. This was one of my three excursions with them and it was quite lovely. It was a rainy day when I went and all I wanted to do was sit by the window and channel my inner Elizabeth Bennett.
The Georgian House is located in Edinburgh’s New Town at 7 Charlotte Square. More information can be found at http://www.nts.org.uk/Visit/Georgian-House/.
My friend Karen was one of the three girls that I was meeting up with for the later weeks of my trip. She moved from Canada to Scotland a couple years ago and we ticked off one of the things on her own ‘things to do’ list by getting posh and having Champagne Afternoon Tea in the Georgian Tea Room at The Dome. If I were an event planner in Edinburgh, I would probably plan many an event in this place. It is spectacular, both inside and out – especially at Christmas time when their electric bill probably skyrockets! I love walking by this building.
Edinburgh used to be known as the ‘Athens of the North’, which The Dome, Calton Hill’s Acropolis, and the Scottish National Gallery all exemplify with their Grecian columns. With The Dome, you’re still marveling at the exterior when the grandeur of the interior taps you on the shoulder and snaps you to attention. It is truly beautiful inside, and this is even before you get into the tea room!
The Georgian Tea Room is everything you would expect a posh tea room to be: elegant and tasteful with an opulence that only a place like this can get away with. The wait staff is friendly and discreet and the tea selection is varied for all tastes. And then there’s the food. Afternoon Tea is very much a meal, and I will never say no to a scone!
Afternoon Tea is a bit dear in price in any country, but I’ve always considered it a treat worth splurging on. There is an option to not have any bubbly, which makes things a bit cheaper, but you might as well go for the whole experience. Champagne bubbles are also something I won’t say no to. 😉
The Dome is a popular venue year round with its four dining areas, so I highly recommend making a reservation. It’s worth the two minutes it will take you to click and get it done, especially if you are going to be there during the holiday season. Christmas in Edinburgh anyone?
The Dome is located at 14 George Street in New Town, Edinburgh. Menus and more information can be found at http://www.thedomeedinburgh.com/.
What places around the world have you been to where you’ve felt royal or posh? Post in the comments below!
I always feel that when I come to Edinburgh, in many ways I am coming home.
~ Alan Rickman ~