Edinburgh Hotels: Auld Reekie Comes Up Roses

By: Mark Lauterwein


Historically Edinburgh was once the capital of a British kingdom that served as a buffer state against the Pictish people north of Stirling. Later it was part of the nascent Kingdom of Northumbria. But today the thing that strikes a visitor from South of the border above all is the quintessentially Scottish feel of the place.

The reason why it was once so smoky ("reekie") was, in part, down to all the back street distilleries busy burning up the "water of life". Mercifully, the air is a lot fresher today but the association with the national drink remains strong. The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, on the upper end of the Royal Mile is devoted to the history of Scotland's most important export. Part of this involves a ride on a ghost train type ride. Fortunately, a complimentary dram at the end helps settle nerves. Hotels here are generally well able to cater to those whisky fans looking to try some new cask strength malts.

Edinburgh castle has become the symbol of the city and is visited by a million tourists each year: it's not hard to see why they come. The castle's outer walls rise seamlessly from the jutting volcanic rock and enclose a fortress of iconic impregnability. Archaeological evidence suggests the site has been inhabited continuously for three thousand years. The oldest part of the castle standing today is St. Margaret's Chapel. The castle also houses the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Scottish National War Memorial.

Edinburgh is the birthplace for many, past and present, who went on to achieve international fame. A short roll call: Alexander Graham Bell, Sir Sean Connery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Magnus Magnussen and the Bay City Rollers. Many more people of note passed through, stopping off in Edinburgh hotels, such as the explorer Ernest Shackleton. Advising him to take it easy on what was to prove his last expedition, Shakleton's doctor received the rebuke," you always want me to give up something!". A little later the great man gave up the ghost.

Finally, for three weeks each August Edinburgh hosts the world's biggest arts festival which includes performers from every sphere: from Shakespeare to dance and stand-up. Accommodation is hard to come by during this period so in order to participate visitors need to sort out their hotels some months in advance.

11.4.2008

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