I was lucky enough to head up to Edinburgh, Scotland last Friday. Edinburgh is definitely one of my favourite places in the UK, and my boyfriend Tom and I enjoy spending time up there together.
As it was our anniversary on the Thursday, we knew we wanted to venture somewhere for a mini break. We had considered both York and Leeds, but we both put Edinburgh at the top of our list!
We travelled up there on the Friday morning and left on the Saturday evening. We have never stayed the night up there together so we really wanted to do that as well. We stayed at Norton House, hotel & spa, just outside the centre of Edinburgh. It was a brilliant trip overall, and I wanted to write a post about it in-case any of you are thinking about taking a trip up to Edinburgh (I would highly recommend btw).
Friday 5th Feb:
Being very excited about our trip, we had agreed to get up early. Or like really early to quote myself. If I remember rightly, we had set the alarm for 6.30, but we didn’t surface out of bed until around 7.30. Despite all of the excitement, it was really hard for us both to get up, but we shuffled along and got ready.
We left the house at about 8.45 and set off to Edinburgh in my hacky Fiat 500. However, not before stopping off at a nearby McDonalds to get some lovely, fattening brekkie. We both had breakfast wraps and hash browns. If you have never had these before you are punishing yourself, honestly, they are delicious.
We drove the longer, but more picturesque route instead of via the A1 north. We always love going through Jedburgh as the views on the way are stunning, and we always stop at the Edinburgh Woollen Mill café to get a snack and a hot drink after the first 2 hours of our journey.
The café has a really nice atmosphere, despite it being at the back of a shop. They always have a range of snacks, meals and hot drinks available, something you need after driving up from Newcastle. I had a lovely scone/rock bun with a few cups of tea (ahh how British) and Tom had a toasted teacake with an Americano.
It was my first time driving up to Jedburgh, as last time we made the trip in August I had not passed my driving test. It was different to take my lil car up to Scotland as well; I haven’t driven it that far yet and it was nice to have it on our break.
Tom drove the rest of the way to Edinburgh as I was shattered, and frankly, with my road rage who would have known what would have happened while I was navigating through the busy and confusing city centre roads?
Our first stop was the Zoo, and I was SO excited. I loved it when we went last March and was really itching to go back. It definitely didn’t disappoint!
We saw loads of lovely animals, my favourites including: meercats, some cow/rhino thing I can’t remember the name of, a panda stuffing its face with some bamboo, penguins and koalas. They have such a wide range of animals here, and it is definitely a can’t miss when it comes to visiting the city.
We stayed there for about 2 hours before we headed off into town at around 2 o’clock. We had shopping on our minds and the high streets in Edinburgh are to die for.
First, we surpassed many of the shops we wanted to go into and ventured straight into Harvey Nichols. I love this shop.
The makeup floor was packed, and there was no way I was going to sacrifice my breathing in order to swatch some MAC lipsticks. We headed up to the next floor, which was mainly Menswear and shoes. Tom had a little browse around the amazing, but heftily priced clothes but soon it was time…to go and look at…the Louboutins.
Louboutins are my all time, favourite shoes. I am so determined to have a pair in the future. I stared and drooled at the beautiful range of shiny black, pink and nude shoes with the signature rich red sole before having to drag myself away before I did something I would regret. We looked around the rest of the humongous shop before I walked away from my Louboutin dream until our next trip. Money, eh?
To be honest, by this point, we were both pretty tired from the journey up and walking around the zoo, and we were slightly uninterested in walking around the rest of the town. We were going to have a nice meal that night and wanted to go in the hotel pool and sauna beforehand, so time was getting on and we decided to take a stroll back to the car. We dropped into a few shops on the way back to have a little look (we couldn’t resist temptation), but we stopped in Starbucks to get a mini meal and drink because we were majorly flagging.
Tom had a berry juice blend with a pulled pork flatbread and I had a caramel crème blend and a cheese toastie, nom nom. It started hoying it down with rain when we were eating, so we knew we had made the right choice in calling it a day in the city centre.
We soon got back to the car and drove for about 25minutes to our hotel.
The road leading up to the hotel was pretty damn creepy if I’m being honest. It was a winded country road with no streetlamps to illuminate the way. It was about a 5 minute drive on this isolated road before we approached the beautiful Norton House hotel.
On first impressions, I was very impressed. It is a beautiful, lit up country house and the views around it were amazing. It is part of the HandPicked Hotels chain, which is a huge reason why Tom and I decided to stay here. We stayed in Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire back in November and that was incredible…easy to say we had high hopes for this hotel as well.
We checked in without a problem, and while I should have been listening to food and facility information, I was too busy gazing at the traditional décor.
We were led around the various corridors of the huge hotel to our room and I literally gasped when I stepped inside. It was huge! It had a king size bed, a smaller living room area and the best bathroom I have ever seen.
The bathroom was definitely the best part. It had underfloor heating, a huge shower with a rain feature AND a bath with a TV imbedded into the wall above it alongside a waterproof remote control. I definitely definitely recommend spending a lovely weekend away in this hotel; we even debated staying longer and heading back to Newcastle at 4 the next morning ready for me to be at work at 7.30am. As much as we huffed and puffed however, it just wasn’t practical.
We soon headed off to the pool/spa facilities in the building adjacent to the hotel. It had a beautiful atmosphere and I particularly loved the desk created with pebbles under a clear glass top.
The pool was a very decent size and Tom and I really enjoyed swimming in there. The only thing was, that we think there was too much chlorine in there. Almost a week on, our skin is still incredibly itchy and that is the only thing we can think that may have caused it. Nevertheless, they had great facilities: alongside the pool, the hotel also offered a steam room, a sauna, a shower with different settings and a hydrotherapy pool.
Unfortunately, we only spent about 45 minutes in the pool area as we needed to get ready for dinner at 8.30.
Dinner was at the hotel’s brasserie and it was lovely, BUT, I was extremely disappointed in the hotel’s communication to us about the evening’s plans. When we had checked in, the hotel had asked us if we had wanted to book dinner. We said yes, went upstairs, end of. However, unbeknownst to us, the hotel had a brasserie and a fine dining option. We were not asked which we would prefer, so when we went for dinner we were asked which restaurant we were eating in, and we didn’t know…cringe or what.
Not only that, but when the waitress checked our slot, we were booked for 9 and not 8.30 which we had been told. We were booked into the brasserie, however where we were going to be eating did not look brilliant at first glance.
The only way I can describe it is that it looked like a pub garden inside. I was really not happy, but we expressed our concerns with the waitress and everything was sorted. We hadn’t realised that the room we had seen originally was not where we would be eating, but instead we would be eating at the restaurant hidden at the back.
Overall, everything turned out nice and we had a lovely meal together. However, the hotel’s communication to its guests was very dissatisfying. We were not asked where we wanted to eat and were booked in at the wrong time so we turned up to the restaurant half an hour early for our booking.
Regardless, this was the only bad thing about the hotel at all. I would definitely still stay there again, and the issue with our meal would not put me off in the slightest. Just because Tom and I had this experience, does not mean that anyone else will. The rest of the hotel was at such a high standard that I definitely give them the benefit of the doubt.
After the meal, we went upstairs and chilled before having a reasonably early night. We were both shattered and we were having to get up early the next day as well. When we booked the days that we did, we probably should have checked the sporting calendar… We had no idea that a huge rugby match (England v.s Scotland) was to happen the next day at the stadium. I’m actually amazed we managed to get a hotel up there, but it does explain why Edinburgh seemed so busy.
Saturday 6th Feb:
We got up at about 7 and were downstairs for breakfast just after 8am. The breakfast was included in our bill, something I was pleased about because I am a biggggg breakfast person. It was a buffet of both continental and hot, cooked food. Tom and I only had the hot food, we didn’t bother with any of the Rice Krispies or Coco Pops.
After we had stuffed our face, we went upstairs to grab our stuff and check out, ready to drive through to the city centre.
Shopping was our first priority, so we parked at Castle Terrace and walked to the main shops on our list. We were only shopping for about 4 hours, but we bought some items we had been looking forward to purchasing, Tom’s being a new suit for work.
I had been tossing and turning over what new makeup products I should get. I mean, why not makeup? Duh.
I discovered there was a Debenhams on Princes Street, something I was pretty damn excited about because they sold Too Faced. In the Debenhams in Newcastle, there is a small Too Faced counter but they do not sell many products at all. However, in the Debenhams in Edinburgh, it was a different story.
I stood there for a while drooling over all of the makeup products in front of me, some I had never even seen in the flesh!
There was absolutely no question that I was going to purchase the original Chocolate Bar palette. But my eyes also were dragged to one of Too Faced’s new Melted Liquid Lipsticks ‘Chocolate Honey’. I chose these right away, and luckily the palette was the last of its kind in stock, phew! I also bought a drugstore dupe for the Too Faced liquid lipstick, but I will be doing a review on these products very soon 🙂
We dropped our new purchases off in my car, and headed up to the famous Edinburgh Castle. It was between going into the Castle, or exploring the Catacombs but we decided it would be easier on this day to do the Castle. We both didn’t really fancy walking all the way along Princes Street and up through the Royal Mile so we tried to find a shortcut, and we did!
It took about 20 minutes to walk from the car to the Castle, which isn’t bad at all taking into consideration how long it would have taken us had we have gone the Princes Street route.
When we went to buy our tickets, I was actually pretty horrified at the price it costed to be allowed admission into the castle grounds. £16 odd each was pretty pricey for what it was, and there was no student discount available which was quite surprising. However, we still bought the tickets and headed on into the historic grounds.
There was a lot to see and do, and it was definitely really interesting looking at everything the Castle/museum had to offer. I am very interested in History so I loved visiting the original parts of the Castle that were still standing.
I wouldn’t do this again, because I felt we saw all we needed to see. I would love to go in again if the admission was cheaper, but I would 100% recommend you visit the Castle if you visit Edinburgh, it’s definitely a must see!
We spent a good chunk of time in the castle, but we knew when it was time to go. We had a nice walk down the Royal Mile whilst looking for a newsagents to buy some snacks from for the way home, but we ended up buying some sweeties from the WHSmith in Edinburgh train station instead. We took a stroll back to the car saying goodbye to Edinburgh for another few months in the process 😦
Can I just say though, that £23 for parking is absolutely ridiculous. I will not continue.
We set the sat-nav, and began our 3 hour journey home.
Overall, I had an absolutely amazing time in Edinburgh with Tom. It really is a beautiful city that you have to visit at least once in your life. There are endless things to do: whether that be shopping, chilling in the beautiful park (in Summer obvs) or doing touristy things like visiting the Castle, the art gallery or the Catacombs. Of course you should always take some time to visit the pandas and all of the other amazing animals at the Zoo, as well. I already am aching to go back to this beautiful city!
I personally don’t think we could have celebrated our anniversary in a better way.
Thank you for reading 🙂