Edinburgh has so many bars and cafés, it’s hard to keep up as a customer. As a business owner, it makes it harder to stand out from the competition. As a result, many of the bars and cafés have gone for niche themes and offerings. So, if you’re getting bored of going to the same place every night, these venues are bound to shake things up a bit.
We’ll get this one out of the way. The Japanese phenomenon was brought to Edinburgh a few years ago. The Cat Café is exactly what it sounds like: a café with lots of cats in it. For £7 per hour, you can cuddle, take photos of and play with the cats. Oh, and you can buy coffee and cakes too, if you want. The place is pretty popular, so remember to make a reservation before you go.
17-19 West Port, EH1 2JA, Edinburgh
Yup, we have one of these too. At Scotland’s first dog café, you can enjoy the three C’s: cakes, coffee and chihuahuas. Just like the cat café, it’ll cost you to get in, and you have to book ahead of time. 50 minute sessions are offered at £10 per person, and you can book the venue for a private party.
15B Frederick Street, EH2 2 EY, Edinburgh
If you’re not willing to fork over £10 for an entrance fee, The Dog House is the place for you. They may not have chihuahuas, but they do have Hero, the legendary English Bulldog. Yes, they only have one dog, but he’s such a good boy. Besides, if you’re lucky, a few customers may bring in their pooches. Aside from Hero, The Dog House is actually pretty good value for money. Food, cocktails and butter beer (yes, really) are generally £5 or less without skimping on quality.
18-22 Clerk Street, EH8 9HX, Edinburgh
96 Grassmarket, EH1 2JR, Edinburgh
Have you ever dreamt of sitting under a ceiling of stuffed animals in a vinyl shop, drinking Buckfast daiquiris from a teapot while a cabaret dancer performs in the background? Look no further! Paradise Palms is Edinburgh’s premier dive bar, filled with every colour, texture, flavour and sound possible. Want a pulled jackfruit po’ boy with a side of cider ketchup? They’ve got it. Feel like spending an afternoon leisurely painting detective heroes from 80’s TV? You’ve come to the right place.
41 Lothian Street, EH1 1HB, Edinburgh
Another self-proclaimed dive bar. This 1950’s New Orleans funfair-themed cocktail bar has everything from cocktail slushies, alcoholic ice cream and vintage cinema-style seating. If you’re bored, you can also play arcade games, try their claw crane machine or get a reading from their Tarot reader machine. There aren’t any live owls, unfortunately, but you’ll still have a hoot.
7 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ, Edinburgh
Don’t you just hate it when you go out for a bite, and there isn’t a barber nearby to cut your hair? Fear not! At the Whistle Stop Barber Shop, you can enjoy a drink, a bite to eat, and get a haircut from one of Scotland’s top hairdressers*. Drunk haircut, anyone? Other perks and quirks include the Feed Me For a Fiver deal, their Hipster Hot Dogs selection and Unlimited Wings on Mondays.
*Note: you’ll have to check the times of their Barber Sessions or make a booking.
66-67 South Bridge, EH1 1LS, Edinburgh
A retro-style basement bar and nightclub where you can play arcade games, dance on poles and relax in (what we presume to be) sex swings… What more could you possibly want? PDT (as the locals call it) has Pinball machines, Pacman, a Dance Dance Revolution-style dance floor and life-size Stormtrooper and Bruce Lee statues. Oh, and cocktails are £5.
23 Shandwick Place, EH2 4RG, Edinburgh
A student favourite in Edinburgh because of its student discounts and generally cheap drinks, The Brass Monkey is truly a hidden gem. In lieu of traditional table seating, you get to lounge on mattresses and cushions. Every day at 3pm, you can kick back and enjoy cinema screenings of cult film favourites and even bring your own beer. If you’re lucky, they might even let you choose the film. What better way to spend a rainy day?
14 Drummond Street, EH8 9TU, Edinburgh
Renowned as one of Edinburgh’s most haunted bars, The Banshee Labyrinth does not disappoint in terms of spookiness. It might not look like much when you enter, but to get to one of their 7 rooms you have to navigate an actual underground labyrinth. Their (50-seater) cinema nights are free, alternating nightly between themes like ‘zombie club’, ‘shit movie night’ and ‘horror show’. You can also find a smoky room with a pool table, if you’re brave enough to challenge one of their locals in a game. The Banshee Labyrinth is a favourite among Edinburgh’s metal fans, and you will often stumble upon a glorious heavy metal gig (or just heavy metal karaoke). Drinks-wise, you can enjoy £2 shots with names like Experiment 626 and The Black Death – usually a concoction involving absinthe, tequila, and other killer spirits.
29-35 Niddry Street, EH1 1LG, Edinburgh