We’ve been locked down in Edinburgh now since early October. Being unable to leave one of the world’s most beautiful cities (minus thousands of tourists), is no hardship. We’ve swapped Scottish vacation for Edinburgh staycation and are having a ball. We recently stayed at Edinburgh’s Hotel du Vin and had a ‘Grand Night In’.
The hotel is a good base for exploring Edinburgh. It’s located on the edge of the historic Old Town, with Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh Castle, the Grassmarket and Royal Mile a stone’s throw away. Princes Street (the city’s main thoroughfare), Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh’s elegant New Town are all a short walk away.
Hotel guests can take advantage of discounted parking (£15.90 for 24 hours) right on the doorstep. Perfect if you’d prefer not to use public transport.
Things to do on an Edinburgh staycation
You might wonder what there is to see and do on an Edinburgh staycation during lockdown? The short answer is lots. Many of the city’s visitor attractions, museums and galleries are open. They’re nice and quiet too. We pretty much had Edinburgh Castle all to ourselves a couple of weeks ago.
There’s no shortage of coffee shops and cafes open either, so you won’t struggle to track down elevenses or lunch.
There are even some festive events running. You’ll find plenty of festive cheer and penguins bathed in moonlight (ADORABLE) at Edinburgh Zoo’s Christmas Nights. We attended the press launch last month and had a brilliant time.
Christmas at The Botanics is back at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh too.
But back to our most recent Edinburgh staycation and ‘Grand Night In’ at Hotel du Vin.
How we spent our Edinburgh staycation
We arrived in town at midday and after parking the car, popped into Hotel du Vin to drop off our bags.
Before heading out to lunch, we persuaded the boy to pose for a photo beside a mural in the hotel. The mural features the gruesome twosome Burke and Hare, plus adorable Greyfriars Bobby. It captures Edinburgh’s two sides perfectly. The Edinburgh of intellect, architecture and braw wee dugs, versus the Edinburgh of Burke and Hare, Deacon Brodie and ghostly goings on.
Lunch – Thomas J Walls Coffee
Thomas J Walls Coffee is located just around the corner from Hotel du Vin. Online reviews suggested we’d find a decent cup of coffee and a tasty lunch at the dog friendly coffee shop. We did – the coffee was good and our sandwiches delicious (smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for Mr G and halloumi, avocado and asparagus for me). The boy had a bowl of water and some scraps of sandwich.
A wander in Greyfriars Kirkyard
It was a lovely afternoon, so after lunch we popped into Greyfriars Kirkyard for a wander.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a fascinating place, steeped in history, both heartwarming and bloody.
There’s the tale of loyal terrier Bobby, who visited the grave of his dead master in the kirkyard for fourteen years.
Religious persecution and ghostly goings on
Then, there’s the hellish tale of a thousand Covenanters who were imprisoned in the kirkyard in 1679. The area where they were held is now known as the Covenanters Prison. Many died there, others were executed for treason. 257 were forced onto a ship bound for the American Colonies – it sank, killing all but 48 aboard.
Near the Covenanters Prison, is the MacKenzie Mausoleum. The occupant, Sir George MacKenzie (Bloody MacKenzie) was Lord Advocate during the reign of Charles II. He relentlessly persecuted the Covenanters, condemning many to die.
In the 1990s, visitors to the Covenanters Prison starting reporting that they’d been attacked by an invisible entity. It became known as the MacKenzie Poltergeist.
Then, you have the resurrectionists. In the kirkyard, are two graves covered by metal grilles (mortsafes). They’re there to prevent the dead from rising. Not as zombies, but as cadavers used to teach medical students. Selling the dead was once a lucrative business. Burke and Hare are often remembered as grave robbers, or resurrectionists but they weren’t. They were murderers, who found killing the easiest way to procure corpses to sell.
A mulled cider meander
After leaving Greyfriars Kirkyard we wandered around the Old Town, enjoying the winter sunshine.
We stopped on Edinburgh’s colourful Victoria Street (the inspiration for Daigon Alley in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books) to buy takeaway mulled cider from the Bow Bar. It was perfection in a wee paper cup and the best I’ve tasted.
Sunshine, mulled cider and beautiful surroundings – who could want for more.
After exploring the ancient closes and courtyards of Edinburgh’s Old Town, it was time to check into Hotel du Vin for a ‘Grand Night In’.
A Grand Night In – Hotel du Vin, Edinburgh
Hotel du Vin is situated around a quiet courtyard, so once inside you’re completely shut off from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Our room – Perrier Jouet
Inside, hands sanitised, temperatures checked and wine glass chandelier admired, we were shown to our room – Perrier Jouet. The rooms at Hotel du Vin are named after wines and vineyards.
It was a good-sized room with a desk, large bed, small sofa and a free-standing bath tub nestled in a turret window. The colour scheme was warm and muted and the lighting subdued. Exposed beams on the ceiling reminded me of some of the quaint hotel rooms we’ve stayed in, in Paris over the years.
Our en suite was large and stylish, with his and her’s sinks and a walk in shower. There was a plentiful supply of L’Occitane toiletries. I usually prefer to find Scottish toiletries in Scottish hotel rooms, but L’Occitane is an old favourite of mine and the brand suited the French theme of the hotel perfectly.
Pets at Hotel du Vin
For a modest £10 per stay fee, four-legged friends are welcome to join their humans at Hotel du Vin. Unlike many other pet friendly hotels we’ve stayed at, there were no doggy extras provided like bowls, treats a bed or poo bags. The boy didn’t seem to mind though, as we always travel with those things anyway and the hotel staff made a huge fuss of him, making him feel very welcome.
A relaxing start to a ‘Grand Night In’
Mr G was keen to snap a sunset, I on the other hand was keen to acquaint myself the free-standing bathtub and some L’Occitane bubbles.
So, as Mr G headed out to chase a sunset, I slipped into a fragrantly scented bubble bath for some me time. Aaaaaaaand relax.
When Mr G returned, we popped the cork on a bottle of Hotel du Vin champagne we’d found waiting in the room for us. It was a really nice bottle of fizz – crisp, dry and chilled to perfection. We had it with some sweet treats, room service had delivered for us to enjoy.
Once again, I was reminded of Paris. Drinking champagne and eating macarons in a hotel room. La vie est belle.
Dinner at Bistro du Vin
After spending a couple of hours relaxing in the room, we donned our glad rags, left the boy snoozing and headed downstairs to Bistro du Vin for dinner.
Having been to the hotel for afternoon tea and drinks before, we were looking forward to dinner.
Bistro du Vin looks like a traditional French bistro. Having recently had to cancel a trip to Paris because of Covid, it was nice to feel like Paris had come to Edinburgh instead.
Once seated, we studied the menu. There was only ever going to be one starter to me. My favourite – French onion soup. The stock was rich and flavoursome and the cheese gooey and delicious. Tres, tres bon.
Mr G had smoked salmon on rye bread. It got a big thumbs up from him.
For my main I had chicken Kiev with a side portion of frites. It came served with mixed leaves. I’d have preferred buttered asparagus or another vegetable accompaniment. The chicken was lovely and garlicky, but a tad dry. It was nice, but didn’t blow me away. The frites were perfect.
Mr G opted for ribeye steak with béarnaise sauce and frites. He wiped his plate clean, declaring it the best steak he’d ever had. He waxed lyrical about it for hours afterwards.
For dessert I had Creme brûlée – a nod to my favourite movie, Amelie. In the movie, Amelie loves to break the crust on creme brûlée with a spoon. Who doesn’t? Movie reenactment over, I tucked in. Mmmmmmm – it was velvety smooth, with a wonderful crisp topping.
Mr G had apple and blackberry crumble with custard. He could eat his body weight in custard, so it didn’t take him long to devour his dessert.
All in all, it was an enjoyable meal.
Fresh air and festive lights
After dinner, we collected the boy from our room and headed out for an evening walk.
The hotel was perfectly located for us to see the Old Town all lit up for Christmas.
Edinburgh is beautiful by night, but at Christmas it looks extra special.
Back at the hotel, we quickly fell asleep. Our Edinburgh staycation had tired us out.
Breakfast at Bistro du Vin
The bed was so comfy, that we almost missed our breakfast reservation the next morning. An invigorating rain shower soon had us wide awake and raring to go.
We were the first to arrive for breakfast, so obviously weren’t the only ones who found the beds comfy.
There was a good choice of dishes on the breakfast menu, both hot and cold. Mr G ordered his favourite eggs royale and I opted for natural yoghurt and granola, plus a selection of Continental meats and cheese. We shared a pot of coffee and a basket of pastries.
It was a fab breakfast and a nice, chilled start to the day.
After breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to Hotel du Vin. We’d thoroughly enjoyed our stay and ‘Grand Night In’.
Our Edinburgh staycation was drawing to an end, but we had time for another wander in the historic heart of the city, before heading home to our Edinburgh abode.
An atmospheric walk in the Old Town
Outside, the weather couldn’t have been more different to the sunny Saturday we’d enjoyed the day before. The city was enveloped in a cold, damp haar and looked wonderfully atmospheric. Edinburgh had transformed into the dark and mysterious city inhabited by Burke and Hare and Deacon Brodie – we were delighted.
When a sea haar descends on Auld Reekie, it’s easy to see why the city has inspired so many Gothic and ghostly stories over the years.
After a couple of hours of walking, we’d earned a winter warmer. We headed to Mimi’s Bakehouse at the foot of Fleshmarket Close for coffee and cake.
And there under the twinkle of fairy lights, our fabulous Edinburgh staycation drew to a close.
Hotel du Vin’s ‘Grand Night In’ package costs from £129 for two. The price includes an allowance of £25pp towards dinner.
We stayed at Hotel du Vin on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …
47 thoughts on “An Edinburgh staycation and Grand Night In at Hotel du Vin”
I’m a latecomer to this post, but enjoyed reading it! I’m headed to Edinburgh in a week. I’m quite familiar with the city, but looking at a potentially wet autumn week ahead, I’m beginning to prepare myself for many indoor, but COVID safe activities, should Auld Reekie weather be inhospitable. Let me know if you have suggestions. Thanks!
What an excellent post. There can be adventure and excitement even in lockdown.. Up here – away from the city we only had mini-lockdowns and they didn’t last long. Here we are, now in 2021 and looking forward with hope and optimism. You look very comfortable and settled in on that couch.
We’re back in full lockdown again, but thankfully then I was able to leave Edinburgh for work. It was a lovely trip. I’m hopeful we’ll be free to move around again soon.
Another fab post. Do you know the origin of the name Fleshmarket Close? Anything to do with grave robbers? The wee white dug did well without his coat on such a driech day!
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. The close is named after a meat market that was in this area. There was a slaughterhouse. They used to throw the offal into the Nor Loch which is now drained but where Princes Street Gardens are now located. Auld Reekie must have been a delight. 😂
I hope that we will be able to visit Edinburgh again. We were there briefly about 6 years ago. My only disappointment was the fact that we didn’t see any Scottish Terriers. After having 3 Scots we now have #4 whose name is Joie – and she is our Joie. We are in Pacifica, CA – about 15 miles south of San Francisco where we have plenty of fog from the Pacific Ocean.
Georgia Grant (yes another Grant)
You definitely need to come back to Edinburgh to explore the city properly. There’s so much to see. Then head up to Clan Grant territory in Speyside. It’s beautiful up there. 😀
Beautiful! Not even bad weather can ruin an adventure like this.
Absolutely – it was a lovely weekend.
Another fabulous travel blog you have shared! Thank you again for your photography and especially, the street scenes with the Christmas atmosphere! I was fortunate to visit Edinburgh about four years ago and loved every minute. I attended the spectacular Military Tattoo and a concert the following evening in the park below with fireworks accompanying the symphony performance! It was amazing! Another thing that was amazing, was the respectful exit of hundreds, maybe thousands of people from the park! I hope you, your husband and the precious “wee white dug” will have a lovely, safe and well Christmas! Wishing for you a Happy (COVID-free) 2021!!
Aww that sounds like an incredible trip. Fingers crossed we all get back to normal again next year. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year too.
My husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Edinburgh a few years ago while touring Scotland, Ireland, and London. To anyone thinking about going, DO IT! Scotland has such a rich, interesting history. I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about our travels there through your wonderful blog!
I’m so glad the blog brought back happy memories for you. There’s so much to see and do in the UK and Ireland.
Yes, you are indeed very lucky to have lockdown in such a beautiful place as Edinburgh! That bath looked very inviting … thanks for sharing and loved your photo’s 🌸
Thank you. I’m so happy you enjoyed the blog. The bath was wonderful.😊
Oh boy…can’t wait to come visit Scotland one day! Have McGregors and Magruders in my mother’s family so have always wanted to see where they came from so long ago.
I hope you manage to visit soon.
Thank you. I thoroughly enjoyed your account. And I learned some things I didn’t know and will further Google. Carry on.
Thank you, so glad you enjoyed the blog.
Many years ago, I walked the Royal Mile. My sister and I, once we can travel again are planning a self driving vacation in Scotland. Edinburgh is certain to be one of the places we visit.
I love the Royal Mile, it’s so full of history. A self-drive tour of Scotland sounds amazing.
Although the situation is bleak for the travel industry, you are quite right that it’s an opportunity to explore our cities in peace. It’s the first Christmas in ages that we haven’t had a weekend in lovely Edinburgh.
It’s such a worrying time for the travel industry. I’ll be glad when this is all over, but will make the most of empty Edinburgh while I can.
It may not be “travelling” to you – but it’s still pretty exotic for us! Such a beautiful, steeped in history, place to call home!
It’s a wonderful place to call home. 😍
That’s all we can do. Take care and let’s hope that 2021 brings more hope.
Loved this blog, we are planning a trip in May 2021 with our westie Charlie, it won’t be as empty I’m sure .
You and Charlie will have a ball in Edinburgh.
Love the photo of Casper on the couch in the hotel room, he’s such a good wee white dug to stay in the room on his own while you go for dinner, most pets would bark or fret. You’re a real star Casper😘
I think he likes a bit of me time to be honest. 😂 He’s so used to travelling and loves staying in new places.
Thank you so much for your lovely words …. we loved having you with us and hearing all the good times you all had while in Edinburgh … we can’t wait to see you all again very soon xxx
It was a wonderful stay in a charming hotel. We’ll hopefully pop in soon for some cocktails when we finally make it into Level 2. Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a return to normal in 2021. X
there is something very magical about the old town … no wonder J.K.R came up with Harry Potter!
Totally, I’ve always loved the Old Town and the stories associated with it.
You had a cosy weekend with the lights, no crowds and all those nooks and crannies – the great photos show that. I have been to Greyfriars but didn’t know about the prison. Bobby is the best bit of history though. So thanks for this, have a lovely Christmas.
Glad you enjoyed the blog. Greyfriars Bobby is a lovely, heartwarming tale. Have a lovely Christmas too Janet.
If you have to be locked down, Edinburgh is a wonderful city to be confined to. Looking forward to when I can visit again. I’ve been awaiting a post about your trip to Islay. Did I happen to miss it?
We’re very lucky to live in such a beautiful city. I hope you get back soon. Islay is coming soon. Probably during the festive break. Next up a winter weekend in the Scottish Borders.
Love this! Brought tears to my eyes.
We are here in Ohio, USA
Fabulous photos and also beautiful dog xxx
Thank you. ☺️
I just love reading your posts. We have a female Westie we call Piper and love her so much. So keep posting and know that I am a big fan.
Thank you so much. I’m delighted you enjoy the blog. Give Piper a wee clap from me.
Thank you for this wonderful blog. Edinburgh is on my bucket list and these photos and your reviews make it even more so. Without all the people, everything is hauntingly beautiful.
Edinburgh won’t disappoint. I hope you manage to visit soon. It’s been lovely exploring the city while it’s quiet.
Love your blog! We have had 3 Westin’s; Travis, Robbie and Gordon! Sadly, all are only with us in spirit! Reading your blog was comforting during this time! Someday, we will get to Scotland and someday we will have another Westie! Happy Christmas from the USA!
They’re wonderful little characters aren’t they. There’s always room in your heart for another dog. I’m delighted you love the blog. Stay safe and hopefully you’ll be able to visit Scotland soon. 🏴