The last few New Year’s Eves have been really sedate affairs for us. For the most part, I wasn’t bothered: NYE always seemed over-rated, expensive and troublesome.
But last year I decided that this year we’d get away. I left arranging it quite late, but managed to sneak in to a lovely boutique hotel in Edinburgh.
The Scottish capital is, of course, legendary for its Hogmanay celebrations, and they begin on the 30th with a torchlight procession through the city.
It starts at 7pm from George IV bridge, but if you get there for the start be prepared to stand in line for a good hour or so before you get walking. Apparently, 35,000 people make the route and many must start queuing pretty early.
It’s also kind of dangerous, with the naked flames and all, but there’s no denying it’s pretty spectacular to watch and be part of.
My recommendation is to sit in a pub along the route – perhaps on North Bank Street or somewhere near – and join the line as it passes. It will save you a couple of hours of waiting, you’ll keep warm, you’ll have a drink and you won’t have missed anything. You will still get to watch the procession at its most impressive point, as it descends The Mound, and walk with it along Princes Street.
The procession ends with a firework display at Calton Hill, but unless you’ve been one of the early ones at the front of the queue, it’ll probably be full and you won’t be allowed up. No matter, the fireworks look just as good from Waterloo Place below.
New Year’s Eve
For New Year’s Eve, we had tickets to the Princes Street party. I’m glad I went, because it’s something ticked off the bucket list, but it’s the place tourists and teenagers go to see in the new year. I felt a little cheated when midnight came and no one even crossed and linked arms and sang Auld Lang Syne!
Unless there’s a great band playing in the Gardens (not in our case, it was the Pet Shop Boys), you only really need to be in a place where you can see the Castle and fireworks, so next time I think we’ll try and track down a quieter – and free – spot. Calton Hill, perhaps.
The fireworks, though, were incredible. I mean, they seemed to go on forever. And no, they didn’t throw fancy smells into the air like they did in London – just plain fire in Scotland, thank you very much – but I did, at that moment, feel like everyone says you should on New Year’s Eve, like I haven’t felt since I can remember. I felt lucky to be alive and excited for 2014.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Brooks Hotel (70-72 Grove Street) which we loved, although it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the city’s main sights. The decor is lovely – full of Farrow and Ball paint and reproduction Eames chairs – the beds incredibly comfy and it was really quiet, even on the biggest party night of the year.
The lounge was full of rustic decor, with antlers on the walls, a roaring fire, sofas and armchairs you can curl up in, magazines, games and even an honesty bar.
The breakfasts were delicious. I looked forward to my daily ‘breakfast shot’ – a glass of yoghurt and fruit topped with homemade granola – and the self-service breakfast table was more interesting than normal, with the addition of homemade marmalade cake and muffins. There was also a good range of cooked breakfasts: full Scottish, eggs and smoked salmon, eggs benedict, eggs florentine. One morning, with my full Scottish breakfast, I had haggis (that’s the thing under the tomato if, like me, you didn’t know what to look for). Another thing ticked off the bucket list. No need to eat it again.
All in all, we had a wonderful three days. My husband said it was the best city break and best New Year’s Eve he’s ever had. Success, right?
Come back later in the week for our recommendations on places to eat, drink, shop and see.
Did you have a good New Year’s?