The Royal Mile runs from the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament all the way up to Edinburgh Castle. Along the way are tiny alleyways (called closes), the Museum of Edinburgh and Gladstone's Land, a restored tenement building. Next to St. Giles' Cathedral is the Heart of Midlothian, a cobblestone heart marking the site of the entrance to Old Tolbooth prison.
Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth is home to 12th-century Inchcolm Abbey, a well-preserved collection of monastic buildings with a rare medieval fresco. On a sunny day you can pack a picnic, catch a ferry from South Queensferry, and spread out your feast on one of two beaches before paying a visit to the abbey. Bus-and-boat tours leave from Waverley Bridge, less than a mile from the hotel.
The revamped Scottish National Portrait Gallery is just a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Portraits range from the historical (princes and poets) to the contemporary (scientists and activists), including depictions of Sean Connery and Albert Einstein. The café makes a good spot for lunch, and a range of special, temporary exhibitions ensures you always see eye-to-eye with someone new.
Don't Go Home Without
Clothing in Scotland is made to last, and Edinburgh has a huge range of shops specialising in cashmere, tweed and tartan. Dunedin Cashmere, just off the Royal Mile, sells cosy cardigans, while Marchbrae across from St. Giles' Cathedral stocks thick jumpers and Barbour jackets. For a quirkier take, visit 21st Century Kilts, a boutique at the forefront of the kilt trend among celebrities.
Edinburgh is known for its traditional museums, but the city's contemporary art scene is also thriving. If you want to see what the young, creative set is up to, pay a visit to Collective. Steps from the hotel, this gallery is housed in the old City Observatory on Calton Hill, and includes an open-air café.