The second largest city in Scotland, Edinburgh offers the perfect balance between all things traditional and contemporary. Boasting streets steeped in history and a thriving cultural scene, Edinburgh was the last city Lara and Terry visited as part of their grand tour.
Jill Robertson, the owner of the apartment Lara and Terry stayed in while in Edinburgh, shares her experience of owning and renting out property in the city and her top tips for making the most of a holiday in Edinburgh.
Why did you choose to buy a property in Edinburgh?
I was at University here and have lived in the city on and off, ever since. My business is to source properties for clients so I’m familiar with the market and I was looking for a new design project / investment for myself when St Bernard’s came onto the market. At that time it was a studio requiring a complete renovation and was too good an opportunity to turn down.
When did you buy the property?
I bought in the summer of 2008 and paid around £170,000.
Why did you decide to make it into a holiday home / rent it out?
I had been developing and selling for a number of years, but having looked at the potential returns, it made more sense to keep the apartment as a long term investment. Long terms lets in Edinburgh have historically generated low yields so the holiday market was more attractive. My philosophy is to renovate to the highest standard and work on the assumption that if you produce a good product, the guests will look after it. So far, that has been the case. The yields from holiday lets are higher and the wear and tear considerably less than I have experienced doing long term lets.
On average, how many weeks do you rent out per year?
Edinburgh is an all year round tourist destination. Used by both business and holiday travellers alike, the apartment is available for both weekend city breaks (minimum two night stay) and for weekly lets throughout the year. Conference attendees often find that they can accommodate their family for a week, for less than a hotel room would be for one so it enables them to stay and explore the city afterwards.
Why should people come to visit Edinburgh?
I’ve yet to travel anywhere in the world where people haven’t heard of Edinburgh and they’ve all, quite rightly heard good things about it. It’s a stunningly beautiful city that’s compact and extremely walk-able. Wherever you are in the city there’s always a view to surprise and for the photographers the light is quite unique. It’s a modern vibrant city with a rich history and heritage to explore.
What are your top three tips for ‘living like a local’ in Edinburgh?
Leave the car and walk everywhere - that’ll give you plenty of chance to discover the enormous variety of fantastic restaurants and coffee shops; get yourself a copy of the ‘inner tube’ the guide to Edinburgh’s cycle paths which will take you right off the tourist track; relax with a film at the cosy, family owned Dominion cinema in Morningside or a game of skittles at the Sheep’s Heid in Duddingston, Scotland’s oldest pub.
What is you favourite place in Edinburgh?
My favourite thing about Edinburgh has to be its green spaces and I can’t restrict this to a single place – Arthur’s Seat, although not such a favourite when I’m running round it but the view from the top is a must; playing tennis in the Meadows; ambling along the Water of Leith walkway to the Modern Art Gallery from Stockbridge and last but not least the Royal Botanic Gardens, a fantastic place to explore with a superb view of the city skyline.
What is your favourite local dish and the best place to enjoy it?
Lara and Terry have already picked a couple of my favourite recipes. Simple food is my preference, making use of the quality ingredients which we have in abundance in Scotland. We’re spoilt for choice in terms of eating out in Edinburgh but I also really enjoy having friends around - particularly in the winter months and cooking for them. I’d opt for a casserole which is forgiving and not too time sensitive if there are late arrivals! George Bower’s the butcher in Stockbridge would be my starting point and I’d usually opt for game, probably a venison and black cherry casserole.
What’s the best thing for travellers to take home as a souvenir from Edinburgh?
After the comments on the blog about the apartment sounding like something from Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland St, I’m tempted to say one of his novels. I’ve had several guests who have planned their Edinburgh tours on the basis of the insights they’ve gleaned from his books! Most travellers will be restricted on their weight allowance so depending on their budget I’d be tempted to purchase some Scottish textiles, be that one of ANTA’s design’s
or some cashmere. If you’re looking for something unique and slightly quirky, I really like Kelly Stewart’s
screen-prints of Edinburgh.
How would you describe the local people in Edinburgh?
Diverse, cosmopolitan and friendly. All my guests comment on it, it’s as though they’re surprised to find that’s the case. It’s a close community and the degrees of separation very short! So if you decide to stay it won’t take long to develop a social life.