Well, the last time Jane and I went to Edinburgh, it was a bit of a disaster, relaxing repast-wise. We were with Jane’s friend Lorena and her baby Rosie and Edinburgh recorded a big, fat fail in terms of finding a dog-and-baby friendly eaterie – I, Attlee Common aka Phileas being the dog and Rosie being the baby. (Rosie is not a baby now – she is two. I am still a dog.)
Pubs welcomed me – booze hound extraordinaire that I am – but not Rosie. Cafes welcomed Rosie but not me. This was negative-amaze-bones. All Jane and Lorena, old university friends, wanted was somewhere to sit and have a chat. (Old as in lots of years of friendship, Jane is asking me to clarify. Not old as in old. Jane is only 251 in dog years.)
I was pretty unimpressed with Scotland’s capital. Is it not the home of Greyfriars Bobby – is there not a statue to him in the city? The faithful and loyal hound who visited his late master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard every day for 14 years. And how has Edinburgh repaid the faith and loyalty of canine-kind? By turning us away at every door.
Anyway, we decided to visit Edinburgh again – to give it a second chance. I am all for second chances, having had one myself, when Jane chose me at Battersea Dogs (and Cats- grrrrr) Home. Ah – cue the violins. Now get on with tramping the streets of Edinburgh, hound – no room for maudlin mutts on this site.
Jane and I started our research at a dog-friendly kip where we could bed down for the night – the Travelodge on Queen’s Street, which is two streets parallel to Princes Street, making it very, very central. So it’s in the New Town and it’s new – we stayed in May 2012 and it had only been open for about a week. Opposite the Travelodge, are some fine gardens containing smells and shrubs and grubs and very likely SQUIRRELS but, at time of going to press, these gardens, beautiful and beckoning as they were, were closed to Travelodge guests. Only residents of the surrounding flats and houses are granted the keys to the kingdom. Our Travelodge swipe card did not cut the mustard. However, the nice lady on reception said that the hotel is trying to organise it so that its guests are granted temporary keys to the gardens as well. And, really, this is only right because Jane and I were residents on that street, even if only for one night, and I so wanted a sprint around those gardens.
Anyway, Queen Street Gardens denied to us, Jane and I commenced our research on Hanover Street, just around the corner from the Travelodge. It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning – Edinburgh was having a heat wave – and we were in high spirits. Jane, being in one of her chatty moods, asked a lady on the street to recommend a café and she pointed us in the direction of Henderson’s. Well, there were two things wrong with Henderson’s. One – dogs were only allowed outside in a teeny weeny courtyard with two tables. That was livable with, as it was a sunny day. But the second problem with Henderson’s is that it was bloody vegetarian. Its rolls and breads and cakes, all freshly made, might have been the finest in Edinburgh, as everyone told us was true, but, frankly, if there’s no meat in your sausage, what is the point? (Actually, there was vegetarian haggis in Jane’s breakfast and it was pretty fine. Although how people tell whether a haggi is vegetarian or carnivorous when they catch it on the Scottish moors, I do not know.) So, IMHO (in my hound’s opinion) Henderson’s in the sun – good. Henderson’s in the rain – bad.
Jane and I were not to be cowed, however. Cows are stooopid animals and Jane and I not stoopid. In fact, you could call us the Woofward and Barkstein of the canine journalism world so we carried on.
Spotting a lady with a dog, Jane asked, hard hitting Barkstein-style: ‘Are there any dog-friendly cafes in Edinburgh?’
The woman replied, yes – in Stockbridge. Stockbridge is the dog-friendliest part of town, she said, but it’s a 15 minute walk away.
A 15-minute walk – that’s a mere skip for an athlete like me. So off we went. This was my own personal Woofward and Barkstein Waterbowl Scandal and I was not missing it. And the Woofward and Barkstein Water-Bowl scandal we did indeed unearth. What would a right-thinking dog reckon on seeing this sign?
A right thinking dog would reckon that dogs were not only welcomed inside but AMORED. I speak enough German to know what Amore means – LOVE. But, guess what, dogs are not AMORED inside – they are not even allowed. This would be a grande joke if it was funny but, frankly, it isn’t. Change your name AMORE DOGS because you don’t AMORE dogs at all. Change the name to HATE dogs or I will ring Trade Descriptions on my Phileas Phone.
Grrrrrrrowl of annoyance. Then deep breath because we have made it to Stockbridge and very pleasant it is too, with a river running through it and lots of old Georgian buildings and interesting shops.
We thought we’d try the first café we ventured across and a strange place it was too – half café, with big wooden tables, and half bicycle shop. But – hoorah! – dogs were allowed. The very friendly waiter/manager of Ronde said that so many of the regular customers were dog owners (although I don’t like the word owner – dog accompaniers is better, as humans have the privilege of accompanying us on our journey through life) that they couldn’t turn us away. Jane enjoyed a fine cup of coffee and I enjoyed the chance to relax for half an hour, content in my Stockbridge is Mutt Mecca of Edinburgh scoop, before we were off again.
The next place we came across in Stockbridge was Hamilton’s, a pub/restaurant that had won lots of awards. Dogs welcome and a big sign on the door saying so – high-paw!
We wandered on. I was super-proud of myself and my amaze-bones research and that was before we happened upon the most amaze place of all – the Proper Tea Shop on St Stephens street. And very Proper it was too as not only were dogs welcome, they were positively embraced. The Proper owner of the Proper Tea Shop has two Proper dogs of her own and is clearly one of those rare and Proper people who appreciates us canine kings for the superior specimens we are. I was fussed and fawned over and pronounced the best dog in the world. (Or something along those lines.)
Job done, Stockbridge explored and granted a scores on the paws of five by Phileas Dogg HQ, it was time to meet Lorena, Whippy and Rosie for some lounging in the sun in Princes Street Gardens.
- Greyfriars Bobby statue is at corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge, EH1 2QQ. For the full Greyfriars Bobby story, log on to www.greyfriarsbobby.co.uk
- Travelodge has over 500 hotels in the UK – dogs welcome. Travelodge Edinburgh Queen Street is at 30-31 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JX. Tel: 0871 984 6143; book at www.travelodge.co.uk. Prices start at £19.99; £20 per night per dog.
- Henderson’s is at 92-94 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DR Tel: 0131 225 6694; www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk
- Ronde Café and Cycle Shop is at 66-68 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AZ. Tel: 0131 260 9888; www.rondebike.com
- Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen, 16-18 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AU Tel: 0131 226 4199; www.hamiltonsedinburgh.co.uk
- The Proper Tea Shop, 24 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh Tel: 0131 226 1070
Edinburgh’s Best Walk
Up Arthur’s Seat – grrrrrrhuzzah – an extinct volcano bang in the middle of the city. Scary swans at the start and a steep uphill climb but lots of smells in the undergrowth like rabbits and haggises and a chance for me to show off my fleet-footed mountain goat impression. And an amaze-bones view of the whole city from the top. About an hour and a half up and down.
Ask a local:
Lorena’s favourite Edinburgh bars (and they’re dog-friendly; we’ve checked) are: