Edinburgh’s Top 5 Cafes

Edinburgh Hostels Cafe Blog

It goes without saying that most people enjoy a good cup of jo. Whether it’s to get through the nine to five grind, socializing with friends, or to finish off that Netflix series that was released 5 hours ago; we can all get around a good cup of coffee. So why should this change when we leave our comfort zone and explore the most beautiful cities in the world (*cough* Edinburgh *cough*)? So we thought we would give you our favourite coffee spots in Scotland’s Capital.

Black Medicine Cafe Edinburgh

CAPTION: Black Medicine Cafe Edinburgh

1. Black Medicine

Located near Nicholson Square and underneath Spoon Cafe, – the real birthplace of Harry Potter (find out more in our Harry Potter Blog), Black Medicine is a great place to work, catch up with friends, or just get some alone time. As soon as you walk through the front doors, the timber work used for the tables and chairs looks like something out of Ron Swanson’s garage. This aesthetic really helps to encapsulate the warm fuzzy feeling you want in a cafe. The coffee itself is reasonably priced from £2 to £2.90, and is complimented with a ginger cookie(I personally go for the cookie). The Baristas are inviting and chatty, and the atmosphere is one that makes you enjoy the coffee that much more.

Lovecrumbs Cafe Edinburgh

CAPTION: Lovecrumbs Edinburgh. Photo Credit Edinburgh Spotlight.

2. Lovecrumbs

Lovecrumbs has to be one of the easiest cafes to find, as you simply have to follow your nose. What started as a makeshift kitchen in a Leith garage back in 2011, it didn’t take long to transition in to a well deserved cafe in Edinburgh’s Old Town. By 2012 Lovecrumbs was opened, and hasn’t slowed down. Offering an array of different speciality cakes from Plum Frangipane Tarts to Orange Polenta cakes, this is the place for any sweet tooth loving fan. The store itself is quite cozy, but it boasts a rustic atmosphere.

Checkpoint Cafe Edinburgh

CAPTION: Checkpoint Cafe Edinburgh. Photo Credit Edinburgh Coffee Lovers

3. Checkpoint

Located just down the road from our very own Castle Rock Hostel, Checkpoint is a popup cafe from the 2016 Fringe that never shut down… If that’s not an endorsement and a half for why this place is a must, then I don’t know what is. Unlike most cafes, Checkpoint is quite big but maintains a spacious floorspace. To put this into perspective, they have a shipping container in the cafe that occupies less than a quarter of the room. The food itself is what I love about this place – halloumi fries, butter fried greens, even a vegan avocado and lime cheesecake which is amazing(and I don’t do vegan)! If you’d like to go one step further than a cup of coffee, they make an amazing Espresso Martini(good way to start the weekend)!

Brew Lab Cafe Edinburgh

CAPTION: Brew Lab Cafe Edinburgh. Photo Credit Brew Lab

4. Brewlab

Just down the road from the Edinburgh University it’s no surprise that this place is perfect for getting your work done or socialzing with friends. Their coffee menu offers four rotating single-origin coffees: two brewed on their brew bar as pour-overs, and two on their espresso bar. If you’re looking for something sweet or savoury to go with your coffee, they offer cakes, tray-bakes, doughnuts and pastries from some of Edinburgh’s top bakeries. Personally I would come here to catch up with a friend, as it is a good place to unwind with a coffee for an hour or so.

Caffeine Drip Cafe Edinburgh

CAPTION: Caffeine Drip Cafe Edinburgh

5. Caffeine Drip

It might be a bit of a walk from our Edinburgh Hostels, but the build up of appetite will be well worth it for this coffee house, eatery, deli and bakery that’s been rolled into one. Caffeine Drip takes your usual cafe food and coffee and adds their own South African twist. The best thing about this place is that they are welcoming with switching up their menu to your liking. My personal choice is the Piggy Club, a three tierd toasted sandwich of pulled pork, chedder, grilled peppers, and mustard mayo! And if you’re not in the mood for coffee than their CYO(create your own) milkshakes are a must have.

10 Beautiful Scottish Villages UNCOVERED!

CAPTION: The Classic Highlands ‘Hairy Coo’.

When we think of Scotland – our minds tend to rush straight to classic images of those red -beards of loud men, assorted tartans, somewhat hormonal weather, bag-pipes and even the adorable ‘Hairy Coos’… BUT There’s more- there always is, more than even spectacular buildings!
As recently inspired by Scotland’s win in The Rough Guide’s competition for the Most Beautiful Country in the world – I decided it was time to UNCOVER Scotland’s Most Beautiful Villages in the Highlands. And all of Scotland for that matter and maybe even England – but let’s not tell the English that!

Firstup – #1: Killin.
Killin tops the list as the most beautiful – diverse in landscape, the villages here are surrounded by trees, mountains and has a prime location – situated at the western end of Loch Tay, plus you will be close to Ben Lauers National Nature Reserve & Finlaig Castle. Definite must-sees!
The Village itself – a mix of traditional cottage style homes and quaint pubs. If you’re trying to see a classic Highland’s village this is number one and matches your imagination to a ‘T’.
My TOP-TIP is to get out in nature, heck I say it enough – there’s wild-life to see and outdoor activities to be done- the best place for all the hiking equipment for sale or hire is The Killin Outdoor Centre, the guys there: full of useful information and best places to walk those feet!

CAPTION: Dochart Falls Bridge, Killin.


#2: Torridon.
Torridon, well hey #2: Steve Carter captured this spot perfectly through the lens of his camera – all the nature feels, the rapid cascading falls and the seemingly endless greenery.
The Village is sitting at the very feet of Liathach and Upper Loch Torridon- and there, there are the mountains and peaks of Torridon. Acclaimed by even the locals as the most beautiful mountain region in all of Scotland.
This location features gorges, rolling-slopes, cliffs – all just waiting to be explored.
My TOP-TIP is to do one of the great walks in the area and see it all – choose an intensive hike – either The Ridge Walk of Liathach Massif or Beinn Eighe OR an easier 7mile Lower Diabaig to Redpoint.

CAPTION: The stunning hills of Torridon, captured by Photographer: Steve Carter.


#3: Shieldaig.
Like Torridon it’s at the west of Liathach and on Loch Torridon. It’s often in competition by tourists with Torridon over which is more beautiful for that reason– it also makes it harder to choose between the two for 2nd and 3rd place!
Here, there’s a lot of history regarding the Fishing Trade! The village it’s self – is a mix of seaweed, scrub and the scenic Shieldaig Island. Beautiful in the days of snow too, like below.
MY TOP-TIP is to grab a rod and go for a fish.

CAPTION: The Winter-Wonderland of Shieldaig, captured by Steve Carter.


#4: Applecross.
Continuing on the coast of Scotland from Torridon you’ll meet up with the village of Applecross – no apples here, oh wait – maybe – I’m sure there’s some Scottish lad picking some as we speak – definitely not what we are travelling to Applecross for, however. Applecross is a village in the Highlands, which is known by locals as a ‘street’ more than a village, the actual name Applecross is roughly 1,300 years old though…
It resides in the remote area of Wester Ross also- but it’s fame really has nothing to do with apples but everything to do with the gorgeous scenic drives along Bealach na Ba Road and way into the hills as high up as 2,053ft! Among the highest in Britain and it’s views spread to Rassay and Skye via the Bay below.
My TOP-TIP is do the whole road-trip with some friends! Give the Applecross Guide a view too – it is a must-read – Click here.

Applecross hill drive

CAPTION: The Scenic Route among the hills and beside the water. Applecross.


#5: Braemar.
The next road we ‘can go down’, is just how high-up we can get into the Scottish Highlands – and there is the village of Braemar. Surrounded by the Grampian Mountains and close to the Cairngorms National Park – it’s easy to encounter snow here – just because of just high up the village is. The village’s cottages are also mostly made of stone to keep people up there warm! Brrrrrr.
In the area – there’s 65 miles of high level walks and cycling routes to help you see it at it’s best – delightful and dramatic.
MY TOP-TIP is to do some of the walks – most of which will take you to the Braemar Castle – unique in it’s appearance and ‘colourful’ in it’s history. Depending on the time of year there are the Braemar Highland Games held within walking distance.

Bramear castle.

CAPTION: Nestled amongst the trees and wide-open spaces is the unique Bramear Castle.

#5: Boat of Garten.

A popular destination for hiking and fishing by tourists & locals! And of course – so stunning.
Commonly referred to as the “The Osprey Village’, it’s found not far from the Cairngorms National Park – who tend to reap all the glory in the area… Boat of Garten, however, is perfect for getting away and unwinding in the peaceful surrounds. Not to mention boasting an abundance of natural beauty and wildlife! The famous and secretive Osprey bird is very commonly found here from April to August and clearly a big part of the town’s nickname!
Stunning in scenery my TOP-TIP is to get out of the car and catch the local steam-train to see it from new heights and perspectives, INFO & TIMETABLE HERE.

Boat of garten

CAPTION: The River Sprey in the Snow.

#7: Nethy Bridge.
Lucky 7! This village is a part of Speyside and south east of the River Spey and through from the forests of Abernethy.
The area is famous for being a big role in the Industrialisation of Scotland with production of Saw-mills from 1728. But we love it for the beauty mostly! Close proximity to the Abernethy Forest, it is also surrounded by Caledonian Pines and has 4 major bridges all photo worthy! The bridges – contributed to the name again. Like, Osprey- so clever Scotland! To mix it up – from rivers and scrub – this village hosts rocky landscapes, stone buildings and wide open spaces.
My TOP-TIP get up those mountains and test the limits of your feet with surmounting the rocks.

Nethy Bridge

CAPTION: On top of the world in Nethy Bridge.

#8: Cromarty.
Overlooked by most this village is just north of Inverness (of course close to Loch Territories), best known for it’s part in the historic county of ‘Cromartyshire’ until 1890 BUT to us – absolutely worth a look for the stunning views.
My TOP-TIP is to carefully amble the narrow streets and go up to the Cromarty Lighthouse to check out the view such as the one below.

Cromarty lighthouse view

CAPTION: Rainbows & Views – what a combination looking out the Cromarty Lighthouse.

#9: Plockton.

A delightful and picturesque village set amongst the hills and on a secluded bay of Loch Carron – to one side there’s all this wonderful-lush-greenery and to the other you find an indescribable coast line. It’s a fishing village and has it’s own harbour. Like other stunning villages it is set amongst the pines with views for days and we love that, but there’s also lots of Hairy Coos – and that just makes everything better!
My TOP-TIP is to sit right on the water’s edge (low-tide of course) with some locally caught Fish & Chips and a good read!

plockton village.

CAPTION: Amongst the hills, along the water is the stunning Plockton village.

#10: Ballater.
And finally, Ballater – commonly known as THE area for the best hiking in the Highlands, but more so, for it’s eloquent history. Way up in the Scottish Highlands, in the Royal Deeside within the Cairngorm’s National Park, you can find this village. The keyword in that sentence is: Royal. The village is close to the Balmoral Castle which hosts the Royal Family from time to time and has for an even longer time. The Royal Lochnager Distillery is also close by with exclusive Scottish whiskies. An exclusive abundance of wildlife is in the hills of Ballater – Red Deer, Golden Eagles and Grouse. Together these things add a very special touch to the Ballater village.
My TOP-TIP is to give one of the hikes a go, it’s truly the best way to see the village from the heights of a Golden Eagle.

ballater village

CAPTION: Picturesque Ballater Village.

3 Fun Scottish Phrases to use in your Village Highland Experience..

Hiked out? “I’m fair puckled.” – I am short of breath!
Confused? “Ah dinnae ken.” – I don’t know.
Inspired? “Whits fur ye’ll no go by ye!” – What’s meant to be – will happen.
Click here for more fun Scottish Slang and Phrases.

The Scottish Highlands is also where majority of our hostels are located – so we have this covered. Oban, Skye, Inverness, Loch Ness, Fort William and Pitlochry.

I recommend planning a 2-3 day road trip incorporating all of the 10 along the way.
Overall – these places are exceptionally spectacular to been see over the winter months and capped with snow.
A great website to check out for more information on what to see and do, where to eat and extra activities is VisitScotland.

I’ve always said: “you don’t often find the gems of a country in the big cities.” And it’s totally the case again.
Stretch your imagination and walk those feet to the Scottish Highlands.

court jeremiahWritten by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.

Please Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author. Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission


The Kilty Pleasures of The Highland Games

There’s a man by the name of Hamish MacGregor ahead of you, he’s yelling, yelling loudly in his local ‘Scottish-tongue’ from a mouth surrounded by ginger whiskers, ahead of him is a sea of tartan and the sounds of bagpipes accompany in the background. The audience cheers just as loud (half not quite sure what they’re actually cheering for – that accent is THICK) – he has just won a crowd over..
Welcome to the Highland Games.

I’m sure most of us who are Gen Y’s or ‘Millenials’ probably only know as much about the Highland Games as we do about The Simpson’s creator Matt Groening- not THAT much and the image we have projected into our mind of Scottish Men looks coincidentally like the BBC Scotland’s video recently doing the rounds on social media – Kilted Yoga – for some reason I seem remember those core values very well… don’t you?

At the core of The Highland Games, there is tremendous history; it is widely believed they begun in 2000BC from Ireland where the people were to cross the waters to Scotland… and would become a series of games that Clans would compete against each other with. So yes, there’s lots of years on this – but the juiciest part of the history was when the infamous Jacobite Rebellion in 1746 would bring forth an Act that would slip the Games into a coma and the men of Scotland hung up their proud kilts. Basically, the wearing of all Scottish dress would be completely outlawed along with gatherings and practicing traditional customs.
Hang on a second. Wait, what? Outlawed, you can’t do that!
It’s okay -eventually the Act would be abolished in 1822 and the fresh King of Scotland: George IV would take to Edinburgh in his full Highland attire, as if to say some choice swear words and basically “The boys are back in town”.
This tradition would become celebrated more than ever since then and used as a way of bringing a community together.

And… cheekily would picked up by other countries starting in 1836 – I’m talking to you America! 😊

Highland Games

Highland Games

These games are practiced in up to 80 locations within Scotland and are not your usual collection of games, nothing like those you would see in the Olympics. They’re better! The men engage in the manly contests of Tug of War, Caber Tossing, The Hammer Throw, Highland Dancing, Stone-Put & Track and Field, to name a few… And many locations have competitions for women to partake in too.
The Highland Games are a perfect mixture of sport, good times, tradition & music –  all in the name of testing each competitor’s strength, creativity and determination.

Fun fact: The Men competing in the games must wear a kilt as a rule set out by The Scottish Highland Game Association.

No I can’t promise all the men are as divine as in the previously mentioned BBC video but… what I can GUARUNTEE is a great day witnessing one of the oldest traditions Scotland has to offer!
Company – Visit Scotland has a great guide to the Highland Games which you should check out, if you’re keen.

Featured Games Locations – One of my favourite locations in Scotland is Oban, right on the water and there the Oban Games are run in July and August each year, another epic Highland Games not far by car is in Dunoon.
If you’re chasing a place to stay whilst enjoying the games in Oban, we have one!

I finish in saying that the Highland Games are EPIC and a major tradition in Scotland, more than just hot men in kilts, so trust me it’s worth them checking out!
After-all it’s just Scot’ to be done!

Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blogger.