Thursday, 10 November 2016

Edinburgh



Believe it or not, before last week I had never stepped foot across the border into Scotland. I used to think it was crazy that I hadn't been to every country in the UK, especially when I love to travel so much. 

Edinburgh made it's way onto my travel hit list last year when I started to take note of how vegan friendly it appeared to be. I soon began to think that it would make the perfect destination for a mini break with my husband as we love to travel to different cities and places, especially during the colder months. 

When I watched some of Zoella's Edinburgh vlogs earlier this year it cemented for me just how much I wanted to visit the city and I quickly got online to book our flights! 

I was tempted to book an Air BnB for our stay in Edinburgh as there appeared to be some amazing apartments available. But at the same time I wanted it to feel like a real break for us and I also wanted a little touch of luxury so I quickly became drawn to the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa which seemed to tick all the boxes. I also loved the fact that it had a spa as it added a further dimension to our break away and meant that after a long day walking around in the cold we then had the option to spend the evening relaxing in the spa.       


I'm so glad we chose to stay at the Sheraton. It was in an ideal location being only a short walk away from all the main areas. Although it seemed quite business orientated, it was exactly what we were looking for. Our room was super comfortable and well equipped and the service was excellent. It was a little annoying we had to pay £30 each to use the Spa but it was well worth it as it gave us access to the incredible outside rooftop hydropool and all of the thermal suite experiences. This was exactly what we needed after a long day out walking in the cold! 


I don't think I was expecting Edinburgh to be as beautiful as it was. Some of the views and sights were really breathtaking but I also think the time of year helped as it just made everywhere look so autumnal and colourful with all the various coloured leaves. We really loved just walking around and taking everything in, especially in the old town. We were also very lucky with the weather during our stay as it was sunny almost every day.  


Wherever you walk in Edinburgh your eyes can't help but be drawn upwards to the grand castle which overlooks the city. We enjoyed walking around the outskirts of the castle but due to time restraints we didn't end up paying to go inside.  


I think Victoria Street (pictured above) was my favourite street to explore as it was just so stunning to look at and photograph, particularly just before sunset. All of the buildings and architecture is beautiful in this area and we really felt like we were away somewhere different. Cockburn Street was another favourite of mine as it was full of little independent shops which I loved browsing and picking up some Christmas presents in.  


If we had more time I would have loved to have immersed ourselves into all of the narrow side streets and alley ways which we could have easily got lost in. I was so curious to see where they led to! 


The whole time we were in Edinburgh my camera was close to hand! Everywhere was just so pretty and worthy of a photograph. 



Another area I would definitely recommend walking through and exploring is Dean Village. We walked through there on our way to the modern art gallery and it was so unbelievably picturesque. I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan (sorry!) but we kept saying how everywhere here felt very "Harry Potter'!

Now lets move onto the bulk of this review - the vegan food!  


On our first night in Edinburgh we headed out to the vegan restaurant Hendersons. This was somewhere that was recommended to me the most out of anywhere else and it also happened to be relatively close to our hotel so it was the perfect choice for us after having checked in.  


Everything on the menu at Hendersons is vegan so it certainly made ordering pretty easy, I just had a tough choice deciding what to go for as everything sounded amazing. 




I would also have to say that this restaurants styling was completely on point. I adored the decor and the whole relaxing and cosy vibe. It's the kind of place that would be perfect for any occasion but I think this was probably the most chic place we ate during our whole stay.  


For starters we just opted for some simple bread with olive oil and balsamic which was yummy. 


My husband chose to have the special 'Soul Bowl' which was a chickpea, aubergine and mushroom curry. When it arrived I was a bit envious as it looked and smelled amazing! 


I was however excited to dive into my own dish which was the 'Glow Bowl'. This was packed with lots of goodness like avocado, pomegranate seeds, chickpeas and quinoa. It was divine and I am definitely going to steal the idea of adding pomegranate seeds to my own lunches at home as they worked really well.  


We couldn't resist going in for one of the puddings and we both loved the sound of the chocolate and hazelnut cake with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream. I'm so glad we did too as it was the perfect ending to an amazing meal. 


I deliberately chose not to have breakfast at the hotel and why would I when there were countless cafe's to discover on our doorstep. The first one we tried for breakfast was The Caffeine Drip which I had heard serves vegan friendly french toast.  


Despite not being a solely vegan cafe, The Caffeine Drip offers a wide choice for plant based diets including a create your own vegan breakfast and, as I had hoped, vegan french toast. They also had vegan haggis on the menu which we were both curious to try. 


The Caffeine Drip is a seriously cool place to hang out for breakfast, brunch or just a hot drink and cake. I loved the rustic interior so much and it's exactly the kind of small and independent place I love to dine at. 


The coffee bean sacks which adorn the walls is also a genius idea! If you want to go somewhere Instagrammable whilst in Edinburgh it has to be here. 


My husband chose a create your own veggie breakfast which included a spoonful of the infamous vegan haggis, which by the way he loved! I think this may have been his favourite meal of the entire trip actually as he couldn't stop raving about it. We also loved that the food was served on traditional style enamel dishes - very cool. 


My vegan French toast was everything I had hoped for and more. The bread was extremely thick and chunky and I could have easily enjoyed this for breakfast every day we was away. I opted to have mine topped with some berries and some maple syrup and it was perfection.  


As if all of that wasn't enough, they also have a jaw dropping selection of cakes available with the vast majority being vegan friendly. We picked up a vegan chocolate tiffin to take back to the hotel with us which we enjoyed later on that evening with a cuppa. 


Despite the fact that it was pretty cold the entire time we were away I had to pop into Affogato for some vegan ice cream! It's not often I come across an ice cream parlour which offers a wide variety of vegan friendly options so it just had to be done.  


I opted for a duo of chocolate and coconut flavoured ice cream which was a great choice. It was really creamy and flavoursome! This is also a really nice little cafe to stop at whilst out and about and it really reminded me of cafe's we've been to in Europe with it's cosy tables and candles. 


I'm going to have to say now that a highlight of my entire time in Edinburgh was our visit to Paradise Palms. We set off in search of this place purely with the knowledge that it served decent vegan friendly junk food. I had no idea what kind of eccentric wonderfulness awaited for me inside.  



Imagine a cross between the Caribbean, Christmas, a boozer and a vintage shop - that's what it was like for me! As soon as we stepped inside I was just in awe of everything. I don't feel like any words I write down can do this place the justice it deserves. It needs to be experienced to be believed!


So aside from everything I've already said, Paradise Palms also has an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu - could this place get any cooler!? They in fact class their menu as 'vegetarian soul food'. It's my favourite kind of treat food to enjoy out too - vegan hot dogs, french fries and cocktails!   


My husband chose to enjoy some vegan 'Lucky Nachos' which were as good as they look. 


I went in for a vegan 'Lucky Dawg' hot dog which came with fries and onion rings. It was all just SO good. The venue, the food, the weird karaoke style music and of course my pina colada. I just couldn't get enough! 


It's exactly the kind of place I would love to have a birthday party at! 


One of my favourite parts of our trip to Edinburgh was the morning we decided to take a stroll around the Bruntsfield area. When re-looking at some of the recommendations I had been sent I soon came to realise that a few of the places were all in this area so it definitely warranted the 20 minute walk away from the Town Centre to get to. Bruntsfield Place is lined with small independent shops and cafes and it definitely has a more authentic feel to it than the other touristy areas we had explored. 


My first stop here was the Coco Chocolatier shop. Coco is an artisan chocolatier based in Edinburgh and it was actually one of Scotland's first chocolatiers. What first drew me to this chocolate was the pretty packaging and it was only later on when I found out that all of their dark chocolate bars are vegan friendly. 


The flavours are also pretty inventive and not like anything I have tasted before. I ended up buying three bars - Orange, Lime & Geranium,  Earl Grey Tea & Bergamot & Hazelnut & Isle of Skye Sea Salt - all incredible!  


And the best news? Even if you're not going to Edinburgh anytime soon you can still order some of this chocolate online! What are you waiting for!? 


Also on Bruntsfield place is the Moon & Hare artisan eatery which I had heard was vegan friendly. We decided to stop here for brunch whilst exploring the area and I am so glad that we did as it was yet another fine choice. By this stage I was beginning to think how can one city have so many beautiful places to eat vegan!  


Another small independent, the Moon & Hare specialises in vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and healthy food. This is exactly the kind of place i'd love to meet friends for brunch, it was so chilled and cosy. 


Again my sweet tooth got the better of me and I couldn't help but be lured in by the sweet vegan waffles! My husband had his heart set on porridge which they'd sadly sold out of but they suggested they make him up a similar bowl with granola and oats which was just as good. 


You already know what i'm going to say..... The waffles were AMAZING!  They also reinforced to me how much I need to buy a waffle maker. They were topped with banana, chocolate sauce and coconut chips and I also added a little maple syrup which was the perfect combination. I honestly don't think I have been anywhere on holiday and eaten so many consistently great meals! 


Andy was super happy with his breakfast bowl and it really filled him up but I think when he saw my waffles he regretted not having the same! 


Also along Bruntsfield Place is The Chocolate Tree which so many people had told me to visit but we just didn't have any room inside us to actually eat or drink anything else (#VeganProblems). That didn't stop us going inside though for a little peek at what was on offer. 


Along with some vegan chocolate cake offerings was a wide variety of chocolate bars (some vegan friendly, some not), vegan chocolate spreads and vegan hot chocolate which I had heard was very good.  


This is also somewhere you can just stop for a hot drink. I just wish we had more time there to be able to do everything but this is definitely somewhere I would add to my hit list next time. 


A little further down the road we came across the Dig In green grocers which we noticed was selling vegan haggis. I haven't seen a little traditional green grocers like this in a long time and it was really lovely to see. If I lived nearby I would definitely be shopping for my veg here!  



Another place that people had literally been raving about to me was Nova Pizza. I have to admit that despite the rave reviews this wasn't on the top of my hit list because I feel as though we have tried a LOT of vegan Italian food lately and the photos of the inside of the restaurant didn't fill me with as much wanderlust as other places. We came very close one night to ordering some food from there on Deliveroo  to our hotel room but in the end, and after trekking about in the rain one day, my husband declared that he wanted some lasagne to warm him up so off we went to Nova Pizza.  


Nova Pizza is a solely vegetarian and vegan restaurant so don't go there expecting to find any meaty dishes for your partners. The vegan menu is also impressive with a wide choice of dishes available and everything from pizza, pasta and calzone's available. As already mentioned we both had the idea of some lasagne in our minds so we knew what we wanted even before looking at the menu!



For a starter we went in for some simple garlic pizza bread which was really nice. 


I opted for the vegan lasagne which looks wise wasn't vastly different from my husbands vegetarian lasagne (below). I was really happy because this is exactly how I like a lasagne to be - not too saucy, quite solid and chunky in consistency and lots of layers. The only downside for me was that mine wasn't hot all the way through but I was too tired to complain or mention it to the staff. Aside from that it was really delicious and probably the best vegan lasagne I have ever tried. 


My husband also really enjoyed his vegetarian lasagne which after tasting both he said there wasn't a huge difference between the two, other than his tasted a bit more cheesy. 

Inside Nova Pizza is quite basic and nothing really to write home about but that is no reflection on the food they are serving up. On reflection I would say it would maybe be better to order this on Deliveroo to where you're staying as you won't be missing much! 


A close runner up to Paradise Palms for me was Hula Juice Cafe. We made it here one morning just in time to catch some breakfast before they finished for lunch (12pm btw), and as soon as I stepped foot inside I was in love! Everything about this cafe is just perfect - the palm print and wild animal wall paper, the girly pink tones and food served up in coconut shells. What more could you ask for!?  


The Hula Juice Cafe is definitely the hip and happening place to be, just off of Grassmarket. It was packed even out of season so I dread to think how busy they must be during periods like Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

Despite not being a solely vegan or vegetarian cafe there is plenty to choose from on the menu here and everything is very well labelled. My husband had a craving for some avo toast and I fancied something really fruity and healthy so I chose to try their 'Acai Bowl'.



Both dishes were really well presented and gorgeous to eat. Again, this is exactly the kind of food we love to eat on a regular basis but it's just so much nicer having someone else make it for you!  


When we walked into the Hula there is no escaping the counter of various yummy looking cakes and raw slices/balls. After breakfast I had to go back over for a closer look which resulted in me ordering a vegan chocolate tiffin bar to share with Andy. And yes, it tasted as good as it looks! In fact I found it pretty mind blowing that this was vegan friendly, it was so chocolatey and rich. You simply cannot visit Edinburgh and miss this cafe out!  


On our final day the realisation had set in that there wasn't enough hours left to visit everywhere on my hit list and I then had the tough decision of where to go to for lunch and what to miss out of this trip. It ended up being a tough choice between The Auld Hoose, home to Edinburgh's largest nachos, or Handmade Burger Co which we've never been to before. 

As we had already enjoyed nachos on this trip my husband made the executive decision that we needed a burger so we jumped in a cab to go out of town to the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre. It was a bit annoying that this restaurant wasn't in the centre of town as it would have made things easier time wise, but nevertheless it was also good to go somewhere different and see more Edinburgh through the cab windows.   


The Handmade Burger Co has been on my radar for so long now but sadly where we live there just isn't one near enough to us to warrant a visit so I was pleased to finally have the chance to experience one of their vegan burgers I had heard such great things about. They have four vegan burgers to choose from which is great for such a meat orientated restaurant!  


We also had a table with a view at this restaurant which just so happens to look out over the waterfront and the Royal Yacht Britannia - my husband got pretty excited about this which really made the trip out of the town centre feel more worthwhile. 


I chose to eat the sweet potato and bean burger which came with a really nice salsa and chutney. It was almost a bit Indian tasting! I also ordered a side of fries which really surprised me when they arrived as they looked like chip shop chips and we could have easily shared a portion between two. 



We left Handmade Burger Co. feeling suitably stuffed and content! I would definitely recommend paying a visit if you've never been before. Also keep an eye on their website as they're opening up some new branches soon! 


A cafe that we passed by and didn't have enough time to visit was Pumpkin Brown which looked so cute. They serve up a completely vegan and healthy menu and from the outside it looked very trendy and great. 


In between all the eating we found time to make a visit to Camera Obscura which was a lot of fun but a little on the expensive side for what it was.  


And we also stopped by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which was a really great way to spend a couple of hours in Edinburgh. I personally love modern art and I am also a little bit addicted to gallery shops and cafes so this was the perfect choice for us. It also provided us with some salvage from the rain and the walk through Dean Village to get there was a real highlight. 


If you'd like to watch some of the fun we had in Edinburgh then head over to my YouTube channel to watch my daily vlogs I uploaded whilst we were there! 


We had a fantastic time away in Edinburgh and we could have easily enjoyed a few more days in Scotland. I also think we chose a great time of year to visit as it was outside of the school holidays and there were no major events on so it meant that everywhere was easily accessible and not too busy. I'm sure you get to see some great sights by driving to Edinburgh but we personally didn't fancy the 8 hour drive and found flying to be a much more relaxing and quicker way to get up there. 

If it is your first time in Edinburgh like us I would definitely recommend staying for at least 3 nights in the city as this will allow you to see most of the major sights and enjoy some time relaxing too. Plus if you're vegan and looking to hit up all the eateries I would say you'd need about 5-6 days at least! There wasn't enough time for us to go to all of the places I would have liked to and I also thought it would have been good fun to combine a trip to Glasgow, which is also meant to be amazing for vegans, or even a trip to Loch Ness and the Highlands. But I guess it's good to have reasons to go back again in the future which I am sure we will do.

Have you been to Edinburgh yet!? 

Happy Travelling!   
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7 comments

  1. went on a weekend trip there a few years ago, have to agree, food was great! but your post and photos looked amazing, I must say. did I miss how long you've stayed there?

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  2. I love Edinburgh, it's such a beautiful city so much to see and do! Looks like you had a fab time!

    Jess
    alrightblondie.com

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  3. Edinburgh is such a lovely city and I never new they had so many vegan eatery's there too. Hendersons sounds super tasty and vegan raw cakes look yummy too :) xx

    Yasmina | The July Journal

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  4. There are no words to describe how much this post makes me want to visit Edinburgh! To be honest I'd never really wanted to go there but in the past year I've heard more and more people talking about the place and from what I can see it's absolutely beautiful! Now it's right on my travel bucket list.

    www.thesundaymode.com

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  5. What an amazing post - your pictures are incredible! I am going to Edinburgh next April and this post has made me SO excited! I can't wait to try all the vegan food I can find - your post is so informative. I have bookmarked it and will be using it whilst I am there. Glad you had an amazing time. I remember reading your tweet about how come no one had told you how hilly Edinburgh was...and it really made me chuckle. Thanks for the heads up :)

    www.hayleyloves.uk

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  6. Aww babe this post is awesome and I love your pictures so much! Really happy to hear you had a wonderful trip away 💜💫✨

    With love, Alisha Valerie. x
    www.AlishaValerie.com || www.twitter.com/AlishaValerie

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  7. What a fantastic travel post! I thought I wanted to go to Edinburgh for the architecture and bars but now I realise it's for the food! Lol

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