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Travel: Discover a slice of tranquility in the capital

Glenlockhart Cottage is an oasis in the city.
Glenlockhart Cottage is an oasis in the city.

If the last year has taught us anything, it really has been to seize the day.

Whether it is grabbing catch-ups with friends and family, going out to your favourite local restaurant or getting away for a trip, it has become clear over the last 14 months or so that we should do the things important to us when we can.

For me, that was a girly weekend away in between lockdowns, staying at the beautifully luxurious Glenlockhart Cottage in Edinburgh.

Owners Cindy Thomson and Paul Gavin know all too well about the importance of seizing an opportunity – after snapping up the cottage that they had “instantly” regretted selling nearly 20 years previously.

The couple, who work in TV and film, bought Glenlockhart and the neighbouring two cottages in 1999 to create a family home. To fund that dream, they refurbished and converted Glenlockhart into a two-storey house and put it up for sale.

The welcoming entrance at Glenlockhart Cottage in Edinburgh.

“As soon as we’d sold it we regretted it,” Cindy said. “However, 19 years later the opportunity to buy it back arose and we jumped at the chance. We love living here in a historic house, tucked away up the lane with trees all around yet so close to the city centre.

“We definitely have the best of both worlds and we knew the cottage would offer a unique holiday experience for people coming to Edinburgh.”

The couple, who were born and bred in the capital, have lovingly decorated the two-bedroom house with exquisite attention to detail and there are plenty of Scottish touches dotted around – from tartan cushions to tasteful stag prints and a back catalogue of early Rebus novels.

A comfortable and spacious bedroom at the cottage.

In the cosy sitting room, the shelves are rammed with history and tourism books, but there are also plenty of recipe books for anyone who fancies making their own Scottish feast in the large, modern kitchen next door.

While we didn’t whip up any culinary delights, it was the kitchen where we spent hours gossiping and putting the world to rights around the large dining table.

The kitchen was the most popular room on this visit.

Equipped with all the mod cons including a range cooker with double oven, hob and grill and a Nespresso coffee machine, the kitchen is sure to be at the heart of any stay.

Upstairs, the master bedroom has a king-size bed, while the second room can be made into two large singles or a super-king, and a travel cot is available too.

The peaceful setting of the cottage – which is marketed as a “rural retreat in the heart of Edinburgh” – and the blackout blinds ensure a peaceful sleep, and a lazy start to the day if that is what you’re after.

For those keen to get out and about however, the cottage is ideally situated. It is a short, leafy walk to Morningside – home to an array of bistros, bars, artisan food shops and boutiques – while also being just two-and-a-half-miles from Edinburgh Castle.

Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle are only a couple of miles from the cottage.

There is a bus stop nearby, and it takes about 20 minutes to get into the city centre, which is exactly what we did on our Saturday afternoon.

After enjoying cocktails at The Dome and a delicious dinner at nearby Dishoom, we returned to the cottage and settled down for a night in front of the fire and TV. The cottage really does allow for the best of both worlds – the vibrant buzz of the city and relaxed, secluded living.

After a leisurely breakfast the next day, we decided to take in some of the local scenery. The cottage is on the edge of Craighlockhart Hills Nature Reserve, 35 acres of open space which offer stunning views with plenty of chances to spot wildlife.

The Pentland Hills are visible from Merchant Golf Course.

Merchant Golf Course is also nearby, and is open to members, guests and visitors. With views across Fife and towards the Pentland Hills, it was an enjoyable amble before we headed towards Morningside to sample some of the artisan goodies on offer and a drink in one of the many bars along the way.

The lure of our own sunny garden pulled us back to Glenlockhart Cottage before too long however, and we sipped our wine in the sun while keeping an eye out for the cheeky red squirrels we had spotted from the kitchen in the morning.

The vibrant streets of the capital are within easy reach of the cottage.

While perusing the visitors’ book at the garden table, that theme of relaxation shone through. Guests from as far away as New Zealand, the US and Holland have all hailed the first-class, private and quiet setting, with one even saying: “It’s central, but I feel like I’m in the Highlands.”

This secluded cottage is certainly a peaceful haven, and whether a family looking for a base to explore Edinburgh and its countless attractions, a couple after a romantic retreat, or like us, a group of friends looking to catch up after nearly a year apart, this is the spot.

Carpe diem.

Glenlockhart Cottage, 8 The Steils, Edinburgh EH10 5XD
Phone: 07887 571770