If, on your city escape in Edinburgh find yourself craving something other than the usual chrome and leather bars or sticky carpeted pubs, take a look at our favourite places to drink in the Scottish capital and enjoy your tipple in refreshingly different surroundings.
Grab a drink in somewhere a little bit different with our guide to the best quirky pubs and bars in the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh
You may never have looked around your local and thought, “You know what? I wish this looked more like a Highland hunting lodge,” but you will forever more after an evening spent at The Refinery. From the outside, the glass front suggests more shop than bar and restaurant, but peering through the windows, you’d be hard pressed to figure out what they’re selling. Once inside, surrounded by wooden walls, taxidermy and tartan armchairs, you’ll feel like you’re anywhere but in the middle of a city.
Panda & Sons
The sign outside reads Panda & Sons Barbershop, and old-school barber chairs are dotted around, but we wouldn’t recommend asking for a haircut. The kind folks in this basement bar are much better equipped to serve you a mind-blowingly great cocktail made from top shelf spirits and infused with herbs and spices. Just like a great barber, the prices may be higher than other institutions, but you’re getting what you pay for with the expertise on offer.
The Potting Shed
On those days when the Scottish weather doesn’t allow for al fresco drinking and dining (which isn’t seldom), The Potting Shed comes into its own. The interior of this pub on Potterrow feels like a charmingly ramshackle rural garden, complete with flowers, plants, vegetables and bar staff in granddad shirts, flatcaps and braces. The menu reflects the theme too, feeling like it came straight from garden to plate. It might sound a little affected but the overall effect is just lovely.
If you want a drink in a bar that feels utterly Scottish through and through, then Whiski is the place for you. Their primary devotion is to single malt whiskies and, true to their name, they have over 300 drams to sample (we don’t recommend trying them all in one visit). The walls are decorated in as much whisky memorabilia as they could get their hands on, the menu contains Scottish favourites and, for the full effect, there’s live music every evening. It may be close to Edinburgh Castle but this is no tourist trap, as the many local revellers will attest to.
The Brass Monkey
The Brass Monkey is one of those hangouts that once discovered, the mission becomes to make sure word doesn’t get out. Its ethos is more college dormitory common room than pub, with a room full of pillows and cushions in the back so that you can lay back and enjoy the daily movies or just relax and have a drink – they’ve even added little tables so you can keep your drink within reach. Muffins, soup and sandwiches are there for sustenance and arcade machines and a dart board add to the entertainment options. This is a good way to lose an entire afternoon.
The Royal Oak
The Royal Oak’s gimmick is, essentially, that it has no gimmick. No fancy theme, no faux Scottish trappings, no elaborate cocktail menu, no secret doorway, nothing. In this day and age, that’s increasingly rare. What it does have is music and lots of it. This is the kind of pub where you’re quickly old friends with everyone around the bar and, by the end of the night, are arm in arm, spilling pints as you sing along to live music. If you can play an instrument, bring it along and you’ll be cajoled into joining in.