Those seeking pomp and pageantry should steer clear of the Oxford Bar. This fine drinking establishment — which dates back to the 19th century — is a shining example of a traditional Scottish pub. The drinks are a plenty, the chat is sublime, and there are no frills attached. It has quite the reputation too— the vicinity has been inundated with a significant flurry of prominent writers and artists over the years. Ian Rankin himself is incredibly fond of the Ox, so much so that he put pen to paper and made the much-loved Rebus drink there too. If it’s good enough for Rebus and Rankin, then it’s certainly good enough for the rest of us.
Oxford Bar, 8 Young Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 539 7119
The Royal Oak
The Royal Oak is a prime spot for good booze and an intimate setting. Those who know their tunes should come here just for the live shows alone. The romantic sounds of traditional folk music have been serenading the punters for 50 years, causing them to swoon every night of the week. This wee pub is as wise as an oak tree too — it’s withstood the tests of time and it’s classic, simple beauty can never be denied. From Scottish whisky and bottled cider to barrels of gin, this down to earth haven has more than enough on offer to whet the appetite.
The Royal Oak, 1 Infirmary St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 557 2976
Blink and you might miss The Doric Bar. This 17th century stunner is said to be the oldest gastro-pub in Edinburgh and is literally a stone’s throw away from the train station. It may be compact but that only makes it all the more authentic. Choose from a cracking selection of real ales and whiskies, snack on some peanuts, and watch the world go by from this quaint cosy cubbyhole. The Doric is overflowing with vast amounts of endearing Scottish charm and never fails to exude a soothing sense of calmness. The ambience really is as romantic as it is appealing. Don’t be surprised when local traditional musical prodigies start chiming in — welcome to Scotland.
The Doric Bar, 15-16 Market St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 225 1084
All the Edinburgh regulars love a bit of the Roseburn. How could they not? It’s been lulling locals into a true sense of happiness since the 1880s. The pub itself is divvied up into three sections, each of which resemble a sort of separate mini pub. And yes, all are bursting to the brim with character. Soak up the jovial atmosphere and appreciate the original fixtures – the red leather and aged wood add to the traditional essence too. This is the place to enjoy a few pints before, during, or after, any rugby game. Just be warned — the many punters make it jam packed and wonderfully wild.
Roseburn Bar, 1 Roseburn Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 337 1067
Scottish pubs and cracking music go hand in hand. Sandy Bell’s will make a music — and pub lover — out of anyone. Celebrated as being one of the most buzzing venues in Edinburgh (and quite literally, the world) for live folk music, this jewel is as Scottish as they come. Think wooden interiors, pints a plenty, whiskies in abundance, fiddlers fiddling, and most importantly, the most relaxed and welcoming ambience in town. This, hands down, is the place to set up fort and sip pints until the sun goes down (or up)!
Sandy Bell’s, 25 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 225 2751
Bennets Bar is filled with as much wit, charm, and unwavering character as the thespians that commonly frequent it. After catching a riveting play at the King’s Theatre, stop by and blend in with the cast while sipping on some stunning cask ales. They have a smashing selection of malt whiskies as well. This historic Victorian bar hasn’t changed a bit since opening it’s doors to the world in 1839 as the sister to the Kings. The eyes cannot help but marvel at the exquisite stained glass windows or the crowds that congregate here.
Bennets Bar, 8 Leven St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 229 5143
By Tori Chalmers