Valentine's Day: Love letters to Edinburgh

The best places in Edinburgh

St Anthony's Chapel, Edinburgh

Dear Edinburgh. We love you. We sincerely do. You’ve given so much to us over the years, we felt we just had to say something – as did some of your more well known inhabitants. Here, an assortment of Edinburgh’s finest list the people, places and things they love about their hometown

Sarah Tanat-Jones, singer, Come on Gang!
Whenever I stand on the venerable old cobbles of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, waiting for the number 35 bus, I feel something akin to love – as close as it gets when talking about transit, at least. It’s best at dusk, when the sky is lavender coloured and all the windows have an amber glow, and you manage to get the best seats in the house – front row, top deck. The bus sails down the Royal Mile and towards my Leith flat, and all the cobbles and wonky rooftops quietly remind me why living in this city has moments of magnificence.
Come on Gang!’s album will be out later this year.

Paul Kitching, chef
One of my favourite places in Edinburgh is the Forth Floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh. I love how you can sit and watch the winter sun set behind the castle: it’s beautiful. The views of the city are one of the best and I could sit there all day – and of course it’s very romantic. I am a real poser anyway, a devoured fashion follower, so after checking out all of the new season’s clothes, I can relax in the restaurant – it’s perfect. The chef is amazing and you are always made to feel really special, which is nice. It’s definitely one of my favourites and I am often there, when I am not working.

Derek Kelly, drummer, Isa & The Filthy Tongues
There are so many reasons I love Edinburgh: the view from Calton Hill to the Forth, the Port O Leith pub, St Antony’s Chapel in Holyrood Park. The Innocent Railway and tunnel from St Leonards; it goes from dark to light in the blink of an eye and it’s not that easy to find. All the contradictions: New Town/Old Town, Deacon Brodie, Jekyll & Hyde – all hidden round corners and down closes. It sums up what’s brilliant about Edinburgh.
Isa & The Filthy Tongues new album Dark Passenger is out now and available via Amazon.

Keith Gray, author
Five minutes from the West End is Dean Village, yet another of Edinburgh’s celebrated secrets. Bridged by Telford, bordered by waterfalls and cut through by the Water of Leith, it’s a bewildering splash of peace and quiet in the heart of the capitol. All but one of the ancient mills is gone, although the old school still stands. As a newcomer to Edinburgh I rented one of Well Court’s attic rooms. I opened my single window to listen to the river, and to toss out spiders the size of my fist – some surely big enough to concuss unlucky ducks below. I met my partner there. The calm valley was the perfect retreat for a new couple. Telford’s massive strides carried the city’s fuss far above our heads. And we were a perfect match too. She’d warn the ducks while I wrestled the spiders.
Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys won the Royal Mail Scottish Children’s Book Award 2009

Niki King, singer
I love the Edinburgh Festival. Every August Edinburgh is the place to be for thousands of artists and visitors from all over the world. I love the way the city comes to life and it is inspiring to see so many different music, theatre, dance, film, comedy and book events right on the doorstep. I love the way the festival has survived and continues to grow, producing new talent and encouraging new audiences. I have lots of great memories performing at the festival as well as seeing so many incredible shows. Considering the size of the city it is amazing to know that, every year, the biggest arts festival in the world is in Edinburgh.
Niki King: The Billy Holliday Songbook, Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Sat 6 Feb.

Ron Butlin, author
Edinburgh, you’re the most walkable city I know. Unlike Big City London, where a spontaneous get-together has to be arranged three weeks in advance, you are compact and pedestrian-friendly. Most of our friends live less than forty minutes brisk walk away. We stroll across the Meadows for dinner, and to Stockbridge, and down Leith Walk – and stagger home again afterwards, which helps the digestion and promotes a passable sobriety. In fact, you’re really an extended village. In Newington, where we live, we know almost all the people in our tenement and many in our street. We are greeted by name in local shops and restaurants and in the Post Office. But you’re not parochial – quite simply, you let us all feel at home.

Scott Hutchison, singer, Frightened Rabbit
My favourite spot for a bit of romance is the Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World out by Dobbies Garden Centre. It’s where I took my girlfriend on our first date and it obviously worked a charm. Don’t be fooled by the title, it’s not just butterflies and insects. They’ve got a marvellous wee lizard called Troy and a selection of snakes. After you’ve peeked at the beasties, you can go to the shop and buy your loved one a valentine’s gift – there’s plenty to choose from: plastic spiders, pencils with wooden ladybirds on the top, badges depicting friendly moths. Following this, you can decant to Dobbies for a scone and a ginger beer.


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