The Handbook
The Handbook

London is home to some of the best bars, clubs, restaurants, museums, fashion; well I could go on, so it can be hard to imagine why one would want to leave (the Bahamas, New York and obvious choices not applicable). As it turns out not only do we have a whole country out there to explore, we also have the pleasure of sharing land with Wales and our neighbours to the North, Scotland. If you ever find yourself out of the capital and in “Auld Reekie” (Edinburgh) then you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Edinburgh is steeped with history, not the kind you found yourself nodding off to at school, but the interesting kind all about grave-robbers, underground speakeasies and ghosts. The city has a perfect combination of modern times and tradition (I saw more than one kilted man).

A five hour train journey from London takes you straight to the middle of Edinburgh, when it comes to looking for somewhere to stay, Ibis has recently added two new hotels to the original ibis that popped up in March earlier this year. The hotels come in three levels of affordability the ibis budget costing the least, the ibis Styles and then towards the more luxury end is ibis but all of the hotels are clean, bright and airy with free WIFI.

The ibis budget is very basic, costing only £35 per night based on a double room, and is excellent for people who don’t want to splash a lot of cash on accommodation but still don’t want to end up in a nightmarish hovel. The ibis budget is aimed at travellers and businessmen as well as families with most rooms coming equipped with an overhead bunk for children. Breakfast is optional but costs £4.95 for all you can eat, although it might worth making the 15 minute journey into town for a decent  morning meal as breakfast was a little on the disappointing side (tinned fruit was spied).

ibis Styles is the mid-range hotel bang in the middle of the New Town, boasting great views of St Andrew Square and the sea. The rooms are larger than ibis budget including the TVs and have amenities like a hairdryer, shower gel and a telephone. In the reception area is a bar with barman ready to make your favourite tipple and food can be served in the open plan reception-meets-restaurant or ordered to your room. Breakfast also takes a step up with the typical dishes in the ibis budget like cereal, toast, yoghurt and drinks but now warm pastries are present.

Ibis is located in the Old Town and is the most expensive hotel with the largest rooms and most importantly, the best breakfast with warm dishes like eggs, beans, sausages and even haggis. The bar and restaurant is sectioned off away from the rest of the hotel and they even give you the option of popping in your Iphone to the sound system but no heavy metal please.

Edinburgh is a great city with something for everyone from shopping on Princes Street (head to George Street if you want to splurge) to sightseeing, check out Mercat Tours to discover where Edinburgh University used to get its cadavers from. Visit Scotland also has an extensive list of activities whether you are there for a day or a month but make sure you don’t miss tourist favourites like Edinburgh castle which has stunning views of the city; alternatively if you are feeling energetic you can hike up to Arthur’s Seat which is the highest viewpoint to admire the marvels of “Embra”.

So if you do find yourself north of London, you needn’t break out in a cold sweat as it turns out that Edinburgh is a pretty great city, and if all else fails rest assured as they have a Selfridges.