By Lindsay MacNevin
Edinburgh is a stunning city, with beautiful architecture, lapped in history and... let’s not forget about the castle. Along with all of this, the city of Edinburgh is committed to “greening” its tourism efforts and making the city more sustainable. Socially conscious travelers will feel right at home exploring this historic, wonderful and “green” city.
Check into your luxury room at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa overlooking the Edinburgh Castle. The Sheraton is putting their best foot forward in terms of sustainability. High-efficiency sensor lights are found throughout the hallways and in each room so as to only use energy as-needed. You can also opt to “Make A Green Choice (MAGC),” and choose their guest sustainability program. The program allows you to forego full housekeeping for up to three days in a row (excluding your check-out day). You can save up to 50 gallons of water, as well as natural gas, electricity and cleaning product chemical by opting in. You don’t have to sacrifice luxury here while doing your part to help the environment.
Once you have settled in to your room, head to David Bann for a vegetarian or vegan dinner experience. A dimly lit and intimate dining room awaits you as well filling dishes like risotto and polenta—perfect meals for the city's hills and Scotland's chilly weather. Reasonably priced and downright delicious, this restaurant uses fresh and local ingredients to create stunning homemade meals that will delight anyone’s taste.
Nightlife activity? If you aren’t too full from dinner make sure to check out the Heads & Tales Edinburgh Gin Bar, located a few minutes’ walk from your hotel. This cool bar is tucked into a cave-like space where you can watch the gin distill while sipping on a house-made cocktail creation.
For breakfast, head to Henderson’s of Edinburgh, in particular their vegan location. Enjoy some of Scotland’s traditional dishes reimagined without meat, including vegan haggis. Henderson’s has been in operation since 1962 and was originally created as an outlet for the produce of husband and wife Mac and Janet's East Lothian Farm. Today they stay true to their principles and use only fresh, local and organic ingredients.
If it is raining (and it most likely will be) head indoors to the Our Dynamic Earth attraction where you can learn more about our planet, how it works and what future challenges it faces. The attraction was built on the site of an old brewery bottling plant and has sparked economic growth within the community while earning numerous green initiative awards.
There is no better spot to grab lunch than at Union of Genius, an entire café dedicated to both soup and sustainability. This ethically-aware venture has a changing menu of six daily soups, two salads and vegan chili. The cafe has over 100 recipes to work from, so your soup will be delicious while warming your body.
Did we mention it will warm your soul too? The cafe's meals come in compostable takeout packaging and use only the freshest and most local ingredients. This company also does all its deliveries by cargo bike, helps feed those in need across the city and composts all of their kitchen waste.
When the sun is shining make sure to check out Gorgie City Farm, a farm located inside the city limits that aims to educate children and adults about farming and food production. Entrance is free (donations accepted) and you can stroll around watching animals like pigs, sheep and goats, visit the gardens and buy local produce grown on-site.
Don’t miss out on visiting the iconic Edinburgh castle, the medieval fortress that has been beckoning you from the high ridge of Old Town. Edinburgh's Old and New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding universal value.
For dinner, head to The Gardener’s Cottage to dine family-style at a long communal dining table. The menu here changes depending on the seasons and only includes the freshest of ingredients. Did we mention they grow their own produce on-site? Everything they cannot grow, they either source locally from farms or buy from the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market.
Need to soak away the day's walk after dinner? Head back to the Sheraton after dinner and visit their One Spa where a rooftop hydropool awaits you, as well as a slew of thermal suites.
You won’t find much open for breakfast before 10 a.m. on a Sunday in this city but Organic Delicious Café is well worth the wait. This vegan-friendly café only serves food that is locally sourced, organic & non-sprayed. Make sure to try one of their smoothies or get caffeinated with their own organic coffee.
After getting your coffee, spend the day exploring Old Town including The Royal Mile, National Museum and more.
Ins and Outs
Fly into Edinburgh Airport which is less than eight miles from the city center. Hire a black cab or use the express tram to get to your hotel. Want to skip the plane? Take a train into Edinburgh's Waverley Station. Once at the Sheraton, you can walk, cab or use public transit to get around.
When Lindsay isn't jet-setting around the world or racing to hit deadlines, she can be found drinking a pint of craft beer watching the Blue Jays game. As a freelance travel, beer and wine writer she spends most of her time on the go, seeking out incredible experiences. She can often be seen losing herself in a good book, tasting delicious wines and expanding her ever-growing collection of beer growlers from around the world.