This weekend is the first of the Six Nations and this time last year I went to my first ever professional rugby match, Scotland v. England for the 2016 Six Nations. I don’t follow rugby other than internationals, and the local team of Tynedale! But I am a fan of the Six Nations. I’m not going this year, it was a bit of a spur of the moment plan last year but we had a really good time. In hindsight I do wish it had been at Twickenham, but we made the most of being a lot closer to Scotland, and planned it around a weekend in Edinburgh too.
We stayed at the Malmaison Edinburgh which is actually just outside in a town called Leith. When looking on a map and realising we weren’t in the centre I was a bit unsure, but it actually turned out to only be a ten minute taxi ride max into the centre, and Leith is a really lovely little place. Parking was free which was a bonus for us and meant we could drive – trains were naturally very expensive for that weekend! When booking with the Mal you get a cheaper upgrade option via email if you confirm you’ll pay the reduced rate at check in, if an upgrade is still available then. When we checked in we got the upgrade, and it was the best room in the place – The Port of Leith suite.
The suite was huge, with a big four poster bed that was so comfortable, a sofa and lounge space, extra seating, a desk, a double wardrobe, Sky TV, Bose speakers and surround sound. Literally amazing and we felt extra smug for getting it at the discounted rate. I love staying in hotels when they’re that nice, especially up in Edinburgh when its always cold, grey and rainy.
The bathroom was another highlight, with this incredible old fashioned bath stood on it’s own platform, with TV in the wall and the patriotic Scottish tartan side. I’m not a fan of baths, the enormous shower would usually be my go to but how could you not get in this?! It was actually very relaxing on the Friday night having a soak in the tub with a glass of wine, before dinner in the Chez Mal brasserie. I can’t remember exactly what I had, but I do remember the green bean side with warm feta mixed through – LUSH.
We had quite a bit to drink that Friday night, so we got the breakfast trays to your room on the Saturday morning. I love doing this in the Mal hotels, it’s so nice to have it delivered to your door with a full continental spread to tuck in to, especially when you’re enjoying it from the massive four poster in Edinburgh!
I’ve stayed at a couple of hotels in Edinburgh, including more central ones but I think I’d definitely choose the Mal again. The walk from some of the more central ones annoyed me despite being close to the centre, and I’m always one to get an uber/taxi even if it’s a short walk so I just figure I may as well stay in a nicer hotel if I’m going to pay for a taxi anyway. I also really loved lovely little Leith so I can definitely see any future weekend in Edinburgh being spent there!
As you can probably guess from our suite names ‘Port of Leith’, Leith is a little port town. Really small and quiet, but very pretty and full of fabulous little bars, pubs and restaurants. If we hadn’t been staying at the Mal I would never have discovered it, but I’m so glad we did. After we had dinner on the Friday night we walked along the little cobbled street by the harbour to see what we could find. Some of the pubs had really good pub grub menus, but we decided on The Granary because a. it was heaving and b. there was live music.
The singer was incredible! There’s an upstairs as well so it is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside, but we found a seat downstairs. There were plenty couples sharing sofas, and everyone was really friendly so ended up sharing tables and chairs with pretty much anyone who came in. We stayed there all night, while the singer belted out song after song along with his guitar. It was a really good night and the bar had such a big atmosphere for such a small little place that seemed deserted through a wet and windy day in February.
Our Saturday was obviously spent at the rugby, but we went back along to The Granary on the Sunday for lunch before the drive home. It was really wet again but all the pubs were full and the food at The Granary was very good. A taxi driver we had on the Saturday told us quite a bit about the places in Leith, he mentioned some of the fish places, either proper restaurants or little chippys. We couldn’t shut him up to be honest about everywhere we should try, so even though we only went to the one place it definitely sounds like Leith has a lot more to offer than we saw.
Obviously the reason we were enjoying a weekend in Edinburgh in the first place was for the rugby, but we were pretty hungover on the Saturday so went in to the centre for some food, and planned to get the tram out to Murrayfield afterwards. When it comes to food there’s obviously some lovely places in Edinburgh, I really like the Jamie Olivers there, Tigerlilys, and recently we tried a Greek place on Rose Street. On this occasion though, we wanted something to cure a hangover so we went to Chiquitos! I still have flashbacks of nearly passing out in there ha. But it kept us going through our hangovers before we got on the tram. It was really easy, we just followed all the crowds.
At Murrayfield once we got through the ticket barriers we set out in search of some drinks. I was actually really surprised how minimal the actual stadium was, but I suppose it is pretty old. Having been used to football stadiums since very young, I was expecting all the food and drink to be inside, but there was literally nothing except the official shop. All the food and drinks available were in tents or street food stalls outside.
We stayed out there for a while, enjoying people watching. There were plenty of interesting sights, some very patriotic!
We saw the England team arrive led by people playing the bagpipes, which was pretty cool. We then made our way inside with our drinks to enjoy the atmosphere before the game. Inside was just as old fashioned as outside, but it was pretty big and had the big screens. The atmosphere was great and thankfully we saw England win. I definitely want to go to Twickenham at least once in my life!
We were still so knackered and hungover when we got back to the Mal after the rugby that we did nothing that night! We ordered pizza to our room and watched the highlights on TV from our massive four poster. That is why I love nice hotels!
The year before this we were also in Edinburgh at the same time, but the game that weekend was Scotland v Wales. We spent the day wandering around the pubs in Edinburgh, my favourite being the three sisters. Again the atmosphere was really good and we stayed their all day. They didn’t do it by halves, the entire outside area was transformed for the duration of the rugby, with flags and banners, outdoor beer stands and food tents. It got very busy but if you’re in the city for a weekend in Edinburgh anyway and not attending a game, I would definitely recommend heading there.