Tag Archives: Edinburgh

What to do in Edinburgh, the best Edinburgh attractions and places to stay in Edinburgh.

Review of Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Haymarket

I stayed at the Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Haymarket on a Sunday night in November 2015. It cost £29 for the night on the non-refundable Premier Saver rate, booked a couple of months in advance.

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket exterior

It’s the largest Premier Inn at which I’ve stayed. It’s located a two minute walk from Haymarket Railway Station, where you can take a bus or tram to and from the iairport. There’s onsite guest parking, on a first come first service basis, charged at £8 per 24 hour period. This is a reasonable price for the convenience.

I was allocated a room at the back of the hotel, overlooking the car park and the back of traditional apartment blocks. This suited me, as it was nice and quiet.

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket view from my room

The room was large, but looking slightly tired compared to some of the newer, or recently refurbished, Premier Inns at which I’ve stayed.

I liked the fact that the room had two armchairs, as well as a chair at the desk. Premier Inn now offer free WiFi. I didn’t try it, as you had to register to use it, and I had enough data available that month to tether through my Three Mobile monthly contract.

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket desk area in bedroom

The bar and restaurant area on the ground floor was pleasant. I hung around there for a few minutes after the noon departure time, as the nearby restaurant at which I planned to have lunch, Mr Basrai’s World Cuisine, didn’t open until 12.30

premier inn edinburgh centre haymarket restaurant

In summary. I thought that the £29 room at Premier Inn Edinburgh City Centre Haymarket offered good value for money for comfortable, quiet, centrally located accommodation.

Review of Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant Edinburgh

The Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant, in St Patrick’s Square Edinburgh, offers a daily lunch buffet for £8 per adult between 12 – 2pm.

Although I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t eat much meat, so I thought I’d give the Kalpna a try.

kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh exterior

Exterior of the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

The Kalpna is attractive inside with mosaics on the wall.

kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh the interiorjpg

Interior of the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

I knew from reading the restaurant’s website, that the buffet selection was limited ; two starters, three main courses, two salads, rice and bread.

lunch buffet at kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh

Lunch buffet at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

I enjoyed the broccoli pakora starter.

starters at kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant in edinburgh

Starters at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

My favourite curry was the spinach and mushroom.

kalpna vegetarian indian restaurant edinburgh main coursejpg

Main course at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

There was some kind of milk pudding at the right hard side of the buffet with a sign saying that it cost an additional £1 each. I thought that, for the price of £8, desserts should be included in the price.

I found the food at the Kalpna Vegetarian Indian Restaurant to be very tasty and nothing was too spicy for me.

I’m not sure that I’d return to the Kalpna. The (non vegetarian) lunch buffet at the Red Fort Indian Restaurant in Drummond Street, which also costs £8, offers a wider choice of starters and main courses. The price also includes a soft drink, plus the choice of ice cream or a coffee to finish.

Review of Shamoli Restaurant in Royal Mile Edinburgh

We had lunch at the Shamoli restaurant in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. It’s somewhere that I’ve been meaning to try for years, after seeing a person with a board advertising the restaurant at the crossroads between the Royal Mile and North Bridge.

The Shamoli is located above the Rabbie Burns bistro and whisky bar. An Indian and Thai lunch buffet costs £7.95 per adult. It says on the sign outside that kids eat free, but I couldn’t see the details on that. I liked the fact the lunch is the same price every day and is served until 4.30pm.

exterior of Shamoli buffet restaurant in Royal Mile Edinburgh

The interior is light and welcoming.

shamoli restuarant edinburgh in the royal mile

I loved the leaded glass windows.

interior of the Shamoli restuarant in Edinburgh

There’s not a very wide selection of food on the buffet.

buffet selection at shamoli restaurant in edinburgh

It was quiet in the restaurant when we ate there, so the fried starters were past their best.

starter at shamoli restaurant in edinburgh

I found all the main courses to be a bit too hot for my taste, even those labelled as medium. My favourite was the Thai Chicken, which although it was labelled as hot, wasn’t as hot as the supposedly medium Vegetable Bhuna. The Nan Bread was good, it wasn’t freshly cooked, but was well preserved.

thai main course at Shamoli buffet restaurant in Royal Mile Edinburgh

There was no dessert included in the buffet

After our buffet lunch at the Shamoli restaurant, we discussed if we’d eat there again. I really liked the ambience, but the food was too hot for my taste, and I missed having a dessert. Therefore, I’d prefer to eat at either the Ashoka Buffet in Hanover Street, or the Red Fort in Drummond Street. My husband also liked the interior. As he enjoyed the Thai food, he said he would go to the Shamoli again.

Pickering’s Gin Made in the Summerhall Distillery Edinburgh

We visited Summerhall with our son Gary during the Edinburgh Open Doors weekend in late September.

Until 2011,  Summerhall was home to the Royal Dick Veterinary School. I have family connections with the Vet School;  my brother studied there and my husband worked there.

I already knew that Summerhall has been transformed into a creative art hub, as Gary had been to some gigs there. Gary was also aware that there was a brewery at Summerhall.  But we didn’t know that since last year there’s  been a distillery making  Pickering’s Gin at Summerhall.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - scooter

The head distiller Chris gave a presentation, and then offered some neat samples. As a teetotaller, I didn’t try any. Gary who isn’t a gin drinker, thought it was very good.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - display cabinet

It’s a pretty small distillery with the bottling done by hand.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - bottling

There was a vintage Pickering’s Gin delivery van parked outside Summerhall Distillery.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - vintage delilvery van

I can imagine the trailer, parked in the courtyard, proving very popular at outdoor events.

pickering's gin at summerhall distillery edinburgh - vintage trailer

Usually, you need to contact Summerhall Distillery to book a tour, which costs £10.

Review of Premier Inn Edinbugh South Queensferry

I stayed at the Premier Inn Edinburgh South Queensferry on a Thursday night in early May 2015.  I paid £35 on the non-refundable advance booking rate, booked on the Premier Inn website.

I’d stayed at the hotel a couple of years ago, when I thought that it was looking a little tired, but I read that the rooms had since been refurbished.

Now, although technically the town of South Queensferry falls within the City of Edinburgh boundary, it lies 10 miles west of the city centre. It’s a good location if you have an early departure or late return from Edinburgh Airport, as outwith rush hour, it takes around ten minutes to drive from the hotel to the airport.

On arrival at the Premier Inn Edinburgh South Queensferry in the early evening, it was hard to find a space in the car park, which is shared with the adjacent Brewer’s Fayre restaurant.

I was allocated a room on the second (top) floor at the front of the hotel. My room had a good view of the construction of the Queensferry Crossing, as well as the current Forth Road Bridge.

view of bridge from room at premier inn edinburgh south queensferry

According to the receptionist, Premier Inn spent £13,000 per room on the refurbishment. It was looking great. There was a well padded golden headboard above the bed. The sofa looked brand new and the Hypnos bed was very comfy.

The desk was large and had plenty of electrical sockets in which to charge my netbook and mobile phones.

desk space in room at the premier inn edinburgh south queensferry

The orientation of the room worked well. it was sunny in the evening, with a welcome lack of morning sunshine. I tried to open the window, but it seemed to be sealed, I assume that was because the room had air-con.

double room at premier inn edinburgh south queensferyy

The bathroom was looking fresh, but still had a shower curtain. I think that Premier Inn should’ve put in a shower screen.

For me, the new and refurbished Premier Inns offer as high a standard of room as I need. Plus, the 2pm check-in and 12 noon check-out times are some of the best in the industry.  If you can get a room for around £30 a night, it’s good value for money. But with rooms in most of the Premier Inns in Edinburgh often costing between £70 – £100 a night, even on the non-refundable Saver rate, I wouldn’t classify Premier Inn as a budget hotel chain.

Review of the Khublai Khan Restaurant in Edinburgh

I had lunch with our son Gary at the Khublai Khan restaurant in the Leith district of Edinburgh.

khublai Khan Edinburgh exterior

I’ve eaten the evening buffet a couple of other Khublai Khan restaurants in Glasgow and Newcastle, but never had lunch there.

The interior was large. As it was quiet, all customers were seated in area next to the fire.

khubai khan edinburgh fireplace

We selected a main course from the Lunch Menu, we both went for the Kangaroo Meatballs, served with Mushroom Sauce and either Mashed Potato or Tagliatelle, which cost £6.95. We added for the ‘Meal Deal’, which for an additional £2 each incluced soup and a soft drink.

We weren’t informed of the type of soup, but it was tasty and served with a slice of warm bread. I really enjoyed the Kangaroo Meatballs, The meat was tender with a slightly sweet flavour.

khublai Khan Edinburgh meatballs

I’d recommend lunch at the Khublai Khan Restaurant in Edinburgh. I thought that at £9 for a two course meal with a drink it was good value for money. The waitress was very friendly and the atmosphere relaxed.


Review of Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines Restaurant Edinburgh

We had Sunday lunch at Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines Restaurant in Edinburgh’s Fountainpark Centre at the end of October 2014. The restaurant had been recommended to our son, who lives in Edinburgh, by one of his work colleagues.

mr basrai's view of edinburgh

I liked the fact that the tables had a bit more space between them than in other buffet restaurants in Edinburgh, e.g the Cosmo. There were also discrete sections in the restuarant, which made it feel less like a large canteen.

mr basrai's interior1

The way that the  buffet selection was laid out down two sides and in smaller central counters meant that it was easier to access the food.  The food displays were very attractively presented.

mr basrai's starter display

My favourte starters were the Goat’s Cheese Salad and the Butternut Squash Pate.

mr basrai's starters

You can order freshly cooked food. You place your order, giving your table number, and it’s brought to your table. I opted for the fish selection.

mr basrai's catch of day fish

However, putting a limit of two on the Tiger Prawns seemed to be in contradiction to the supposed “all-you-can-eat” buffet. Now you can return to the live cooking station to order more food, but if it’s busy you’d have to queue up again.

mr basrai's fish

My favourite main couse was the Prawns in Mongolian Sauce. I wish that the prawns had been shelled, as it was messy getting them out of the shells.

mr basrai's mussels and prawns

The dessert selection was impressive.

mr basrai's dessert display

The Passion Fruit Cheesecake was a bit disappointing, as it was a bit fluffy. I enjoyed the Apple Crumble with custard, and the Mint Ice Cream. The ice cream wasn’t self service. I can appreciate that it makes easier to keep the serving area clean, but we had a wait a while for a member of staff to appear.

mr basrai's desserts

It costs £13 per person all day on a Sunday. On Friday and Saturday,  lunch costs £10, Monday to Thursday it’s £7.99.

In summary, I thought that the quality and selection of food at Mr Basrai’s World Cuisines Restaurant was excellent. But I do think they should lift the restrictions on food at the live cooking stations. Next time I’ll go for lunch on a Saturday, to pay £3 less.

Review of Mr Basrai's World Cuisines Restaurant in EdinburghKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

Review of Traveldoge Edinburgh Central Queen Street

I stayed at the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street on a Friday night (Boxing Day) in late December 2014. I paid £34 for a family room, booked in mid October on the Flexible Rate (which means you can cancel without penalty until noon on the day of arrival). It’s unusual to find a low price room in Edinburgh on a Friday night. I did think about staying for a couple of nights, but the price tripled for the Saturday night.

travelodge edinburgh central queen st entrance

It takes fewer than 10 minutes to walk to the hotel from Edinburgh Waverley rail station. The Ashoka Indian Buffet Restaurant is just around the corner in Hanover Street, where you can have lunch from noon until 4pm on Mondays to Saturdays for £7.

The hotel receptionist was very pleasant. I was allocated a room on the first floor overlooking an internal courtyard. I was happy with this as it meant that that I couldn’t hear any traffic from Queen St, althought the one small window did make the room a bit gloomy.

travelodge edinburgh central queen street

The room was large, clean and comfortable. This Travelodge had been madeover, which meant a new ‘Dreamer’ bed and pillows.

In summary, the Travelodge Edinburgh Central Queen Street is in a handy central location for exploring the city. However, you’ll probably need to book well in advance and stay in the low season to find a cheap room there.

Review of Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge

I stayed at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge for one night in early June 2014. I originally booked the Ibis Budget Edinburgh Park priced at £35 a night on an unrestricted rate (which could be cancelled without penalty up until 2pm on the day of arrival). I planned to drive up to the hotel the afternoon before my flight and then take the car to an airport car park the next morning.

However, when the opening of the Ibis Budget Edinburgh Park was delayed, I received an email offering to transfer my booking to the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge for the same price of £35 for the night. It’s usually a lot more expensive for a room in the Ibis hotels in Edinburgh city centre.

I decided to go to Edinburgh the day before my flight to stay at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge. I reckoned that walking from the hotel to the express airport bus and the bus journey straight to the airport terminal would take 30-40 minutes. This would be around the same time as driving from the Ibis Edinburgh Park hotel to an airport car park and the transfer to the airport terminal.

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge exterior

Check in time at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge is noon, much earlier than most other hotels. This was great, as I could drop off my luggage on arrival in Edinburgh. You have to pay £2.00 per item to use the left luggage facility at the hotel.

The lobby area was pretty small for a such a large hotel.

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge lobby

At check in I requested a quiet room. The receptionist informed me that I’d already been allocated a quiet room on the top floor. The views to Arthur’s Seat and over the Forth Estuary to Fife gave the room the wow factor.

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge view of arthurs seat

The room was fresh and bright. Initially I could only find one electrical socket, but then I noticed a double socket at at the side of the wardrobe. There’s free WiFi throughout the hotel. You have to give your name and email address to get connected . I found the signal in my room to be excellent.

There was only one chair in the room. There wasn’t a desk area, but I used the coffee table to work on my netbook.

The windows were sealed, but the room had air conditioning. I would’ve preferred to have been able to open the windows. I needed to switch on the air conditioning, as it was a warm June day (by Scottish standards).

ibis edinburgh centre south bridge room1

Although the prefabricated plastic bathroom unit was small, I thought that there was more room in the shower than in many standard hotel shower cubicles. I did think that the step up the bathroom door could be a trip hazard.

I was very happy with my room for £35 a night. However, I noticed that rooms were advertised at £134 for that night when I checked in. I think that this was way overpriced for a rather basic room which didn’t even have a safe or include breakfast.

I’d only recommend staying at the Ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge if you can find a low rate.

Review of Ibis Edinburgh Centre South BridgeKeep It Real Travel Review – No Fluff

Edinburgh Airport’s New Lounge Should Aspire to Having Toilets

I won two United BusinessFirst return tickets from Edinburgh to Chicago in a business card prize draw. These tickets offered us free-of-charge access to the new Aspire Lounge in Edinburgh Airport prior to departure.

aspire buisness lounge exterior

As our flight departed mid morning, we were looking forward to breakfast in the Aspire lounge. There was fair selection of food including cereals, yoghurts, bacon rolls and croissants. The staff were very friendly.

aspire business lounge drinks selection

The lounge had a good mix of seating; comfy sofas, seats at tables, work stations and bar-type stools with plenty of electrical sockets. The WiFi signal was good.

aspire business lounge interior1

However, I was amazed that the Aspire lounge didn’t have its own toilet facilities. You had to exit the lounge and walk down to the nearest public facilities.

I thought that this coming and going of users must be confusing for staff at the lounge reception. I suggested to the receptionist that users’ hands should be stamped on arrival,  a bit like when attending a gig, to provide a quick and easy way to verify legitimate re-access.

In opinion, lack of internal toilet facilities lets down this new lounge at Edinburgh Airport, which should aspire to get its own toilets.