A festive visit to Scotland’s capital will put you right in the mood for Christmas.
Is it just my imagination or does Christmas get earlier every year? No sooner have the leaves on the trees turned amber then shops, and especially garden centres, start smelling of cinnamon and playing festive tunes.
Some of my friends are super organised and have their presents wrapped in October, whereas I enjoy (or should I say endure) the challenge of rushing about last minute. I remember one year buying early presents, storing them in my loft and forgetting what I had bought so I ended up buying double.
So to get us all in the festive mood, we booked a girlie trip to Edinburgh for some shopping, dining and, of course, the obligatory cocktails. Rather than two hotel rooms, we booked an apartment at Princes Street Suites on Waterloo Place, a stunning building with an impressive original façade that previously housed a post office.
Just five minutes’ walk from Waverley train station, it provided us with a much more social space to enjoy our time together.
With 37 chic apartments accommodating from two to eight guests in one, two and three-bedroom apartments, a 1,500sq ft penthouse suite and also dog-friendly, these apartments cater for all sizes of family or parties.
Our apartment was extremely spacious with two large bedrooms (one with en-suite) and a huge, well-equipped kitchen on open plan with a living area.
The apartment was very welcoming and cosy and they provided us with tea and coffee and even popped some milk in the fridge.
With sumptuous leather couches, a flat-screen television and a stylish dining area, we could have sat there all evening quite happily. However, with such a fantastic location, it would be mad to stay in as there is a plethora of bars and restaurants literally on your doorstep and we managed to sample quite a few over our weekend.
With Edinburgh’s Christmas 2016 starting that same weekend, there was so much to see and do. We meandered along to Princes Street Gardens, which had been transformed into a Winter Wonderland. With plenty of stalls full of crafts, gifts and gastronomic surprises, it had a delightful Christmas atmosphere and we were lucky to experience some clear blue sky, although the air was icy cold.
In need of some warmth, we opted for a hot cider to try and beat those winter chills. I loved the Winter Windows that formed a magical pathway to Santa Land, each of them designed by local school children. For children, there is a veritable feast of entertainment with a magnificent carousel, a Christmas tree maze, a Santa train and a Reindeer mini roller-coaster. For the older kids and thrill seekers, there is the 60-metre Sky Flyer, a flying chair ride that is the same height as the Scott’s monument and looks absolutely terrifying.
Just minutes’ walk from Princes Street, on George Street, is the stunning Street of Light with over 60,000 beautiful bulbs accompanied with synchronised music from local choirs and bands; tickets are free but you must book in advance if you wish to visit.
At the other end of George Street, in St Andrews Square, is a stunning ice rink that allows you a 360-degree journey around this beautiful square. We had forgotten how fun ice skating is and thankfully all of us managed to stay on our feet. Right next to the square is Multrees Walk, Edinburgh’s designer shopping street that oozes sophistication. Adorned with spectacular white sparkling Christmas trees and dazzling shop window displays, we all dreamt of that lottery win so that we could shop until we dropped.
Also on this street is the Harvey Nichols luxury department store, and even if most of their products are out of your price range, it is a wonderful shop to wander round and people watch. We were also lucky enough to catch the traditional switching on of the Christmas tree lights at Jenners where their giant Christmas tree rises from the ground floor to the top, a spectacular display worthy of a visit. A top tip is their café that has spectacular views over the Christmas markets and the castle, a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy a coffee.
All too soon it was time to gather our cases and shopping bags and return to the railway station. The apartments’ location made this all so much easier and the staff were happy to help store our luggage until we needed it. Another surprise was the apartments’ stunning roof terrace with beautiful views of Edinburgh.
Although a bit too chilly to linger for long, we were treated to fantastic panoramic views of Arthur’s Seat and beyond. We all decided that it would be the perfect place to relax on a sunnier day and promised to return to our capital city and the Princes Suite apartments in the summer months
www.princesstreetsuites.co.uk Stays start from £89.10 for a studio apartment
The hotel is operated by Redefine|BDL Hotels, the UK’s leading independent management company
For more information on Princes Street Suites or to make a booking, visit the website or call 0131 558 1600.