A dog friendly Edinburgh break

I’m often asked “Is Edinburgh dog friendly?”. Edinburgh is indeed a dog friendly city. Travelling as frequently as we do though, means we rarely spend time exploring Scotland’s capital with the boy. We were long overdue a stay-at-home weekend, so when Hotel Indigo invited us to review their boutique hotel on York Place we jumped at the chance.

Day one – a dog friendly Edinburgh break
Hotel Indigo, York Place, Edinburgh

Hotel Indigo is part of the IHG Hotel & Resorts group which also includes Staybridge Suites and Kimpton.

The hotel is housed in a row of Georgian Town houses in the heart of the New Town. There are shops, restaurants, bars, visitor attractions, parks and more on the hotel’s doorstep. It’s within walking distance of Edinburgh’s main railway station. The airport tram service stops outside too, so the hotel is a good base for exploring Edinburgh.

Hotel Indigo has 60 rooms ranging from comfortable doubles to sumptuous suites. Facilities include a fitness room, bar and breakfast room. The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, but there are plenty on the doorstep, so it’s not a deal breaker.

‘Supaw Stays’ at Hotel Indigo York place

We stayed on a ‘supaw stays’ package. For £15 per night, your four-legged friend can stay with you and enjoy a dog friendly Edinburgh break. The ‘supaw stays’ package includes healthy treats, plus use of a dog bed and bowl.

Our room

We took advantage of Hotel Indigo’s 3pm check-in time.

Our superior king room was spacious. It had a large bed and sitting area, plus a mini bar (with complimentary snacks).

The decor and soft furnishings featured stylish accents of teal – adding a modern twist to the classical Georgian interior.

Our en suite was spacious too, with a rain shower and complimentary toiletries from Aussie brand Biology.

It was a great space to hang out and relax – but first we had a city to explore.

After leaving the hotel, we swapped Georgian architecture for the towering tenements of the Old Town – the medieval heart of the city.

Dinner – City Cafe, Blair Street, Edinburgh

Our Old Town wander led us to Blair Street, just off the Cowgate. One of our favourite dog friendly Edinburgh eateries is located in Blair Street, so it seemed like the perfect time to stop for dinner.

The City Cafe is an American-style diner that’s been serving hot dogs, burgers and milkshakes to the residents of Edinburgh since the early 80s.

We love a vintage diner vibe, so it’s always nice to pay The City Cafe a visit.

We were given a choice of tables inside and made a beeline for a booth by the 1950s style jukebox. The tunes were good and the food and drink options on the menu even better.

We both ordered ice cream floats – cherry cola for me and regular cola for Mr G. And since it was Friday, we ordered alcoholic beverages too – pina colada for me and a slightly less flamboyant beer for Mr G.

To eat, I had loaded fries topped with beef chilli, cheese and a generous sprinkling of jalapeño. They were fab. Mr G had macaroni cheese and fries and was equally happy with his choice.

It was great to be out in Edinburgh relaxing over dinner and drinks with the boy.

Walk – Edinburgh Old Town

After dinner we wandered down the Royal Mile towards Holyrood Palace. The palace is Scotland’s official royal residence and one time home of Mary Queen of Scots.

From Holyrood our Old Town ramble took us through the New Calton Burial Ground. The creepy Georgian cemetery has a watchtower which was built to deter body snatchers. Many of the tombs are adorned with the skull and crossbones.

After thirty minutes or so we arrived back at Hotel Indigo and slipped into our PJs.

Now it was time to relax. The boy curled up on his doggy bed and Mr G and I settled on our comfy king sized bed to watch tv.

Before long, we were all sound asleep – testament to how comfortable our beds were.

Day two – a dog friendly Edinburgh break

We woke up the next morning, got up, showered and ready for the day ahead. The sun was shining and we were looking forward to spending a full day pottering around town with the boy – but first, breakfast.

Breakfast – Hotel Indigo, York Place

I wasn’t sure how good breakfast would be in a hotel without a restaurant, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was a great choice of breakfast goodies on offer, including a number of cooked options and a huge array of Continental breakfast items.

We both opted for a cooked breakfast – I chose ‘The Full Edinburgh’ (minus beans) which was delicious, especially the haggis. Mr G had his old favourite eggs royale and the dish didn’t disappoint.

Set up for the day ahead, we were ready to explore Edinburgh.

Dog friendly Edinburgh shopping – St James Quarter

Our first stop was St James Quarter on the doorstep of our hotel. The galleria opened to much fanfare in the summer of 2021, replacing a 1960s eyesore. The new galleria attracted a number of high end shops and eateries to Edinburgh’s east end.

The galleria is dog friendly with doggy watering stations located throughout and pushchairs available to hire, just in case your four-legged friend doesn’t have as much stamina for shopping as you do. A number of the shops and eateries are dog friendly too, including the quintessentially British John Lewis – which is where we headed.

Inside the boy made a beeline for the doggy section. It was stocked with treats, toys and stylish attire from the likes of Barbour and Joules.

After browsing he chose a sweater and toy from the Barbour range. His wee face was a picture as we took his goodies to the checkout to pay.

Not being fans of shopping, our jaunt to John Lewis was more than enough retail therapy for us for one day.

Now it was time for something a little more cultured.

Visit – Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is located a few doors away from Hotel Indigo. It was one of my favourite Edinburgh haunts in my student days, but it’s been years since I’ve visited. Staying on the doorstep, gave me the perfect opportunity to pay the gallery a long overdue visit.

The gallery isn’t dog friendly but there’s a leafy square next to it, so we took it in turns to visit, while the other sat with the boy, soaking up some early autumn sunshine.

A visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a must when you visit Edinburgh – not only is it full of interesting artworks depicting famous Scots spanning hundreds of years – there’s Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, The Proclaimers, Billy Connolly and more. The gallery also contains an interesting (and slightly macabre) collection of death masks, including those of the notorious Edinburgh serial killers Burke and Hare.

And if viewing a plethora of well-kent Scots faces isn’t entertainment enough, the gallery interior will quite literally knock your socks off, because it’s absolutely stunning.

Coffee break, Burr & Co, George Street, Edinburgh

After art came coffee, a short hop away on Edinburgh’s fashionable George Street is Burr & Co, a hip coffee shop that welcomes humans and foods alike.

We ordered a pupachino for the boy, plus coffee and scones for ourselves – both were good.

With our caffeine and skoosh cream levels topped up, it was time for a walk.

Walk – Princes Street Garden

A hop, skip and jump away from the hustle and bustle of George Street we reached the green oasis that is Princes Street Gardens. We stopped briefly at the east garden to listen to a fantastic street performer singing Con Te Partiro (Time To Say Goodbye) in perfect Italian, before we headed to the west garden for a wander. 

The west garden holds fond childhood memories for me, with its children’s play-park, beautiful fountain and floral cuckoo clock. We timed our arrival well, as the wee birdie was just about to make an appearance. And a familiar call of cuckoo, cuckoo” that wee birdie transported me right back to those halcyon days of childhood.

After leaving Princes Street Gardens we returned to the hustle and bustle of the city, back in the historic Old Town – my favourite stomping ground when I’m at home.

There we listened to our second street performer of the day – a piper, playing toe-tapping tunes where the High Street meets the Lawnmarket and directly opposite the spot where the notorious murderer William Burke was hung for his crimes, after his partner in crime William Hare turned King’s Evidence and confessed to their crimes in return for his own own freedom.

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh

There are a couple of unexpected dog friendly Edinburgh attractions on the High Street, one of them is the fabulous Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, the other is St Giles’ Cathedral which was founded in 1124 by King David I. Despite its grey exterior thanks to Victorian stone cladding, the interior of the cathedral is an architectural gem and a visit is like stepping back in time.

St Giles’ has witnessed so much of Edinburgh’s history over the centuries – from invading English armies, to religious upheaval and Jacobite risings. More recently, the eyes of the world were on St Giles after HRH Queen Elizabeth lay in state there for 24 hours.

Outside St Giles Cathedral, the High Street was thronging with tourists, so it felt like a good time to stop for a liquid refreshment. We made our way towards Cockburn (pronounced co burn) Street and down the steep steps of Fleshmarket Close (not as gruesome as it sounds).

We were en route to one of our favourite traditional watering holes in the Old Town – Jinglin’ Geordie’s Bar.

Drinks – Jinglin’ Geordie’s, Fleshmarket Close

Jinglin’ Geordie’s Bar is one of many dog friendly bars in Edinburgh. It’s named after George Heriot, goldsmith to King James VI. Heriot was said to be so rich, that his pockets jingled when he walked because they were full of gold.

Inside, we found a table and ordered drinks. White wine for me and a local lager for Mr G – aaaaaand relax.

Dinner – Brewhemia, Market Street

After our liquid refreshments it was time for dinner. We had a table booked at Brewhemia at the foot of Fleshmarket Close.

Brewhemia is one of the most dog friendly places we’ve ever visited. Warm welcome, compliments, water, biscuits and a bed. The boy was in his element.

Brewhemia is Edinburgh’s largest restaurant but it’s split into themed spaces inside, which gives it an intimate feel. There’s a whisky bar, Prosecco bar, bothy and boudoir where you can order cocktails, craft lagers, Scotch whiskies and more. There’s locally sourced scran (food) too.

We love all of the above, so we were always going to like Brewhemia. What made our visit better than expected though was how amazing the staff were with the boy.

Before we’d even ordered from the menu, he’d been given biscuits, water and a bed. Needless to say he was delighted.

As was I when I found French onion soup AND espresso martini (two favourites) on the menu.

I’ve devoured many bowls of french onion soup in Paris over the years and this Edinburgh version was every bit as good. My espresso martini was delicious too.

My main course was just as tasty – a lemon and herb haus kebab with pickled vegetables and homemade tzatziki served on a flatbread.

Mr G was every bit as enthused with Brewhemia’s food and drink offering as the boy and I were.

He whet his whistle with a flight of lagers and tucked into a croquette trio starter (haggis & whisky, smoked ham, cheese and garlic aioli, goats cheese, beetroot and maple mayo), followed by a weiner dog.

We finished with a cocktail each for the road, then left Brewhemia to wander back to the hotel, where we planned to spend the night chilling.

Relax – Hotel Indigo

Back at the hotel, the boy tried his new sweater on. It fitted perfectly and looked fantastic on him. He looked as proud as punch wearing it.

After playing with his new toy, he enjoyed a nice long nap. It’d been a busy, but fun-packed day for us all.

We’d planned to spent the rest of the evening perfecting the art of doing nothing, but …

An Edinburgh Sunset, Calton Hill

With Calton Hill on our doorstep, we couldn’t resist taking a wander up there to catch an Edinburgh sunset.

Calton Hill is one of the best places in Edinburgh to watch the sunset. It’s topped by grand monuments and offers a sweeping view of the city skyline. Each season offers a slightly different sunset view too. Whichever one you get, they’re all delightful.

Watching the sky glow pink, then orange over Scotland’s capital city was a lovely way to round off a brilliant dog friendly Edinburgh break.

We stayed at Hotel Indigo on a complimentary bed and breakfast basis as part of a paid partnership with the hotel, however all opinions are my own.

Until next time …

14 thoughts on “A dog friendly Edinburgh break”

  1. Enjoy your articles very much! I was born in Glasgow but now live in Australia but you give us ideas of places to visit when we go back to Edinburgh on holiday..We have a special wee dug too but unfortunately, we can’t bring her with us but she does have a lovely dog sitter who loves her as much as we do!! We hope to get back either next year or perhaps the year after when, hopefully things will settle down in the world.

  2. Thank you for a really lovely review of Edinburgh, a city I’m starting to know quite well as my daughter now lives there. It’s great to know there are some dog friendly places – I don’t have to leave my two at home. St Giles’ Cathedral, who knew?

  3. Wonderful photographs as always, beautiful ones of St Giles, looks like a stay is calling, thank you so much. Love to the Wee White Dug 👌


  4. Little Miss Traveller – England – An independent traveller writing about her visits to countries near and far - travel diaries and days out providing inspiration for fellow travellers
    Little Miss Traveller says:

    Lovely, I like the Indigo brand, having stayed in a couple recently.

  5. Wow! Thank you for this amazing visit to Edinburgh. I obviously did not spend enough time in this lovely city when I visited a few years ago. Your photography and narrative have me wanting more. I love that the city is so dog friendly as evidenced by the boy’s sweet face. Love the sweater! I look forward to your next journey.

  6. I just want to let you know how much I enjoy your posts. My mother had Scotish roots so they are extra special to me. Unfortunately, I will never have to opportunity to visit Scotland, so I really appreciate the wonderful pictures and your excellent narrative of your travels.

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