I did the same thing last year and had not intended to post anything about this trip but Lauren (who works in PR at The Balmoral) was so sweet, my friends such fun to see and Edinburgh so vibrant that I have decided I must write something.
Virgin Trains First Class
I got the 9:30am train from King's Cross. I was in First Class & so was offered breakfast or lunch. I opted for the Full English breakfast and was impressed by what arrived.
I had the Weekend Financial Times to read. This, and the 'free' WiFi, meant the 4 hours & 23 minute journey went quickly.
The Scotch Bar at The Balmoral Hotel
Edinburgh Waverley station is next door to The Balmoral hotel & I was soon in their 'Scotch Bar' again.
Their 'Whisky Ambassador' helped me pick my Laphroaig whisky & provided dark Swiss chocolate & smoked almonds to accompany this & my coffee.
He told me the bar has more than 460 varieties of whisky and I had forgotten how incredible eating dark chocolate with whisky can be.
I spent my time in the bar writing to Baroness Harding about the appalling service I have received from TalkTalk & my hope they will waive my cancelation fees.
Friends from my Bermuda Days
My friend found it hysterical that I had to get a public bus out of Edinburgh with her but it was fun to sit upstairs.
At their house I was staying in 'The Mill' again, with a Dorchester hotel bed & steam room shower.
It was a magical few days with them eating eggs from their own chicken, bread they made themselves, be entranced by their adorable two year old son, walking their dogs and watching 'Arthur' (starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli & John Gielgud) and 'The Big Sleep', in their 'private cinema'.
They are the sort of friends you may not see for years but when you see them again it is like you have never been apart. I feel so blessed to have so many of these great friends around the world.
4th Floor of Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh
Back in Edinburgh we went for lunch in Harvey Nichols. The Fourth Floor Brasserie has stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and I got a delicious Caesar salad with chicken with a refreshingly tart Grey Goose Le Fizz. We all loved our lunches there.
Shopping in Edinburgh
Then we went shopping in Edinburgh's Stockbridge area. I was thrilled to find Oor Wullie charity Christmas cards and also bought a Scotch (mutton) pie. Both of these things had me thinking about my late Scottish grandmother.
The Balmoral Hotel Again
Back at The Balmoral Hotel I met Lauren from the hotel's PR area. She presented me with the latest member of 'the gang' (Bonnie), along with a Balmoral Hotel 'passport'. and we had a great chat over coffee before she took me on a quick tour of the hotel.
I stayed in this Rocco Forte hotel last year with its Olga Polizzi's understated decor but had not seen Number One, This restaurant was refurbished in 2015 and has stunning red lacquered walls. It has held a Michelin star for 14 consecutive years.
With Lauren we talked about my stays in Hotel Amigo in Brussels, Hotel de Russie in Rome, drinks at Hotel de Rome in Berlin and lunch & afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel in London. Talking to her persuaded me I must stay at The Balmoral Hotel again next year.
The Edinburgh Fringe: Tumour Has It
Next I met Karen Hobbs in the 'Scotch Bar'. I helped to crowdfund her Edinburgh Fringe show 'Tumour Has It', after seeing a preview of her excellent thought-provoking comedy show in London.
She had badges for me & I decided to make Bonnie as advocate for the fight against cervical cancer and Karen's show.
The Journey Back is More Difficult
I got the 7:30pm train back to London. Despite being in First Class, & an excellent James Martin chicken curry, it was a painful journey, not arriving back at King's Cross until 1am.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (7 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - my two nights in Scotland definitely get a '7 teddies' rating. My brilliant friends & their charming son; the Scotch bar, & Lauren, at The Balmoral; and meeting Karen Hobbs got this trip this top 'teddy score'. My 2016 Edinburgh Fringe tip:- seeing Karen's show 'Tumour Has It'.