The summer holiday gets all the attention, but really there is something so charming about a wintery escape. As a warm-blooded Australian, come-November my default inclination inclination is to hibernate indoors for weeks on end until, before I know it, December has been and gone. But a wintery mini-break really is the most wonderful excuse to leave one’s cosy cocoon and explore an entirely new place through the glittering lens of the Christmas period.
Besides, I firmly believe that some places – particularly the grand old European cities – are best suited to the grey skies and moody nights of winter. And Edinburgh is just such a place. Despite the Clever Boyfriend and I both having a strong Scottish heritage (dancing a mean highland fling is even one of my secret talents), neither of us had ever set foot in the regal land, so last December we hopped on a plane for an impromptu festive weekend in the Scottish capital.
And truthfully, it couldn’t have felt more perfectly wintery and wonderful. We set off early one Friday morning, had landed and checked in to our chic, nautical suite at the Mailmaison beside the harbour (giant marshmallow beds and whitewashed walls) before lunchtime, and then spent the afternoon exploring the docklands, the teeny-tiny boutiques and the cosy Scottish pubs (nothing like the smell of whisky and the sound of barely-decipherable Scottish accents to make us feel like we were in Edinburgh) before tucking ourselves in for a feast in the hotel’s restaurant (marvellous traditional fare, such as local game and Guinness and treacle tart).
The next day, we relocated to the old town and checked into the Hotel du Vin (think tartan, dim lights and classic highland chic) for a day spent meandering along winding, cobbled streets, popping in and out of cosy little sweet shops and bookstores and tea houses, buying Scotch fudge and tartan scarves as souvenirs along the way. As night fell, we made our way to the wonderful German markets that appear each year for hot apple cider, bratwurst, ice skating and ferris wheel rides to the soundtrack of bagpipes in the distance somewhere. It couldn’t have felt more like Christmas!
Given the eerie grandeur of the old town, we could resist signing up for a midnight ghost tour, so, after supper at the hotel, we set off at the witching hour for a moonlight adventure into the vaults that crisscross deep beneath the city, into ancient cemeteries and down haunted alleyways as the sounds of church bells echoed across the still, dark night.
On Sunday, we climbed up to Edinburgh castle for ancient histories and crown jewels and the most magnificent sweeping views across the whole city, took a trip to the museum, walked the length of the grand Royal Mile, dashed back to the airport and still made it back home in time for bed. What a wonderful, wintery weekend in Scotland it was!
I’d love to hear your recommendations for marvellous wintery weekends away!
Love, Miss B xx