Edinburgh is the ultimate tourist destination (in our opinion at least!) with the historic Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and the magnificent Royal Yacht Britannia among many highlights to visit. However, if you prefer to get “off the beaten track” and find those hidden gems that most visitors to Scotland’s capital miss, then read on to uncover Secret Edinburgh.
Kyoto Friendship Garden
10 minutes from The Dunstane, nestled between two golf courses in Cramond is the 16th century Lauriston Castle. Take your time to explore the house and admire the Georgian and Edwardian additions to the castle before heading out to explore the extensive grounds. The grounds were laid out by William Henry Playfair in the 1840’s and much of the planting still dates back to his original work. Coincidently, William Playfair was also the architect who designed the house that is now The Dunstane Hotel!
Explore the grounds and visit the 14 trees planted in memory of the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Bren Gun Carrier Platoon, who were killed or died during the Burma campaign of 1943-45. If that puts you in a reflective mood, keep exploring and you’ll come across the Kyoto Friendship Garden.
The garden was opened in 2002 as a celebration of the twinning of Edinburgh and Kyoto in Japan. Listed in the top three Japanese Gardens in Britain, it has everything you expect, blossom trees, relaxing water features and bamboo shelters to picnic in. Take your time to relax, enjoy the views over Cramond Island and across the Firth of Forth. (Kyoto Friendship Garden, Lauriston Castle, 2A Cramond Road South, EH4 5QD. April to October: 2pm every day except Friday. November to March: 2pm, Saturday and Sunday only. Entrance free. No dogs or bicycles permitted.)
Dr Knox’s Enigma
This is the latest obsession of Edinburgh locals. If you’re at the bar and hear someone ask their friend “have you heard about that game where you get locked in a room and have to escape?”, then this is what they are talking about. Sounds bizarre but bare with us here as we explain. Dr Knox was and Edinburgh born Doctor with a flair for anatomy, having being trained by the greatest anatomy teacher of his time – Dr John Barclay.
Dr Knox was famously linked to the West Port murderers Burke and Hare. Body-snatching was increasingly common in Edinburgh. In 1827 an indebted lodger of a certain Mr Hare, died on him by chance and Hare was paid £7 and 10 shillings for delivering the body to Dr Knox at Surgeon’s Square. They were caught after 16 “transactions” and Hare turned King’s evidence, condemning Burke to death. Dr Knox was never prosecuted, which angered Edinburgh residents, who felt that he was an accessory to the crime for accepting the bodies. Knox was eventually run out of Edinburgh and moved to London where he worked until his death in 1862.
The story of Burke and Hare is a well known Edinburgh story and they, along with Knox, are star attractions at the Edinburgh Dungeons! They have inspired Dr Knox’s Enigma, Edinburgh’s premier escape game experience. There are 2 puzzles in 4 different rooms for you to unlock to escape, choosing either Wilson’s Revenge or The Barclay Collection games. Everything is themed around Knox and his shady underworld dealings, however the experience is for families as well as groups of friends, corporate and stag/hen parties. So it’s not as terrifying as it all sounds – honest. Definitely worth checking out. (Dr Knox’s Enigma, 3 Warriston’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1 1PG, 10am-11:30pm, £70-£75 per room, max 6 people per room, www.dr-knox.com)
For a really special cinema experience, the Dominion is the place to go! An independent cinema in Morningside, you can enjoy the latest movie releases sat in comfy sofas with your feet up and a glass of wine in hand! You can even get Pringles and free refills on medium sized drinks included in some evening ticket prices. A bit of a step up from the usual bags of popcorn, which of course you can still get. Personally we think wine was made to go with popcorn…OK maybe not, but any excuse for a glass right! The relaxed atmosphere makes you feel like you’re watching the film in your own home and whilst it is a little more expensive for tickets than your standard Vue or Odeon cinema, you’re paying for the experience and comfort. (Dominion Cinema, 18 Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh, EH10 4RT. www.dominioncinemas.net)
Something more familiar?
If you’re after something a bit more familiar after visiting these unique places, let The Dunstane be your ‘home from home’. With our welcoming staff, Orkney inspired restaurant and unbelievably comfy beds, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. Why not take advantage of our fabulous Midweek Break and other special offers?