How to get to Edinburgh? How to get around? Where to stay? Where to eat?
The most direct train service from London to Edinburgh is from Kings Cross station, with trains every half-hour. Some trains will only stop in York, Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, taking about four and a half hours, while others make more stops and take about half an hour longer. LNER is the principal carrier, while Lumo is an open-access company running older trains which may (or may not) be a bit cheaper — they seem to cancel trains more frequently than LNER. These services run along the clifftops north of Berwick, then return to the coast at Dunbar.
However, there is an alternative which may be cheaper, and that is Avanti West Coast from Euston, changing in Preston (or sometimes Lancaster) on the way. This route will give you an hourly service (most hours), and will normally come in under six hours. The scenic highlights are a glimpse of Morecambe Bay and the route between the Lake District and the Howgill Fells.
All the major brands have hotels in Edinburgh, from Travelodge to Sheraton and beyond. Balance your price-bracket with location. You can usually get a Premier Inn room for £100 unless there is a big event (rugby and the festivals send prices across the city through the roof, but university graduations can also make an impact). We tend to gravitate towards the Courtyard by Marriott on Leith Walk, which is central and comfortable (but I’m a sucker for a Stevenson connection), or the Parliament House Hotel nearby.
At busy times, many people have been known to stay in Glasgow and commute into Edinburgh by train.
Getting round there
If you are staying in Edinburgh, your simplest way to get around is by using a contactless card. Prices are capped at less than the London cap. This service is operated by Lothian Buses (that’s the dark red ones), so it will be easiest just to stick with them. Some other operators will allow the contactless journey to contribute to the cap, but others will not. The trams are included (but only to Ingliston, not the airport), but trains are not.
Eating and drinking there
Edinburgh has a very wide range of restaurants (though the Hungarian one near Haymarket has now gone, as has the cheap-and-good Malaysian place near the conference centre. I have noted some options in the district texts, but really, there is decent food and drink everywhere (and of course, all the usual brands are there). With the exception of Wedgwood and Ondine (one-offs noted on the Royal Mile page), I’d steer clear of the rest of the Mile — not that the food will necessarily be bad, but you will probably be paying a prfemium for dining on the Mile. As noted re Valvona and Crolla (Calton Hill and Leith), Italians have been a major presence in Edinburgh for about 150 years, and there are some real gems at all price-points. The range of Asian restaurants has grown immensely over the past thirty years from the generic Indian or Chinese restaurant to much better versions of both, plus Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese (and possibly still a Malaysian somewhere).
There are many and various cafés, from the traditional breakfast café to dainty cakes and tea to match.
There is a full range of pubs at all levels of niceness. The Guildford Arms (see the New Town page) remains my favourite: if it is busy, there is always the Abbotsford a short distance along Rose Street (a sister pub to the Guildford). Microbreweries come and go, so the choice changes from week to week.