Trendy bars are all well and good, with their timber furnishings and food served on slates, but the warm glow of a friendly pub on a biting winter’s evening is an unmatched joy.
We’ve gathered together twelve of the best old school public houses in Edinburgh.
But we know there are plenty more – tell us about your favourite via @wow247edinburgh
The Caley Sample Room
Located between Polwarth and Gorgie, The Caley Sample Room is old school in all the right ways. Dedicated to providing patrons with a great selection of ales and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a hidden gem tucked away from other more prominent bars and pubs in the area, but is undoubtedly one of the finest spots for beer lovers in the west of the city. But don’t forget the grub: this place is rightly regarded as one of the best gastropubs in Edinburgh.
42-58 Angle Park Terrace, Edinburgh, EH11 2JR
Next door to the King’s Theatre, a colourful clientele of theatre-goers, thespians and seasoned locals make up the average evening in Bennet’s Bar. The décor speaks for itself and the listed interior dates back to 1906, so Bennets has a real authenticity that many other Edinburgh haunts strive for.
8 Leven St, Edinburgh, EH3 9LG
The Canny Man’s
If we’re talking about established places, you’ll struggle to find a better publican dynasty than The Canny Man’s. Opened in 1871 and passed through three generations of the Kerr family, it’s a pub dedicated to the little touches (orders are served on silver trays, accompanied with napkins and a small side of peanuts) and has maintained a proud old school approach to the local neighbourhood drinking den. The Canny Man’s is not short on admirers either, with celebrity chef Rick Stein dubbing it ‘the best pub in the world’.
237 Morningside Rd, Edinburgh EH10 4QU
Described as ‘like your local should be’, the Bailie Bar prides itself on a warm atmosphere and bar staff who are more than willing to offer you beverage suggestions if you need them. The décor is traditional, but that doesn’t mean that the atmosphere is stuffy – in fact, if you’re around at the right time of year, you may be lucky enough to catch their annual duck race…
2-4 St Stephen St, Edinburgh, EH3 5AL
Broughton Street may have plenty of options when it comes to public houses, but the Barony Bar is certainly worth a visit. With some of the friendliest staff in Edinburgh and a real working fireplace (an invaluable feature on a cold January evening), the lively Barony always seems to have something going on. Look out for its cameo role in the Sylvain Chomet animated film The Illusionist.
81-85 Broughton St, Edinburgh, EH1 3RJ
The Last Drop
If you’re looking for some history whilst you quench your thirst, then The Last Drop fits the bill. Set among the many pub options on the infamous Grassmarket, The Last Drop takes its name from being the site of the last public hanging in Edinburgh. That may sound a little macabre, but the historic pub is also one of the most authentic among the tourist traps of the area.
74-78 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2JR
The Café Royal
This city centre institution offers an old school approach, but possibly not in the way of the others in this list. With its Parisian-style saloon bar interior, the Café Royal is also an oyster bar – offering fresh seafood dishes at reasonable prices. It’s packed out most weekends, it was voted the best pub in Britain in 2009, and it’s been left largely unchanged for more than 140 years.
19 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AA,
When it comes to picking your new local, the décor can be a real selling point. Nobles Bar down in Leith would never have to worry about not winning people over with its looks. The renovated Victorian building has some of the most stunning, original stained glass windows in the city. Add to that a fine selection of food and ales, live music, and it’s not a surprise it’s not just Leithers who flock there.
44a Constitution St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6RS
The Cambridge Bar
This pub lists is main priorities as good beer, gourmet burgers and great sports coverage, which may leave you thinking, ‘what more could you ask for?’. The Cambridge Bar is completely independent, which mean it scouts around for the best beers available, and as for their handmade burgers, it’s a mouthwatering selection.
20 Young Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4JB
The Blind Poet
Tucked away on one of Newington’s cobbled side streets, the Blind Poet is a cultural hub all year round with a monthly poetry night. Providing a friendly atmosphere without any of the usual pretensions of a venue boasting spoken word performances, the Blind Poet is a rustic venue with bags of charm. Great on a Sunday with a pint and the paper.
32 West Nicolson St, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD
A contender, along with The Royal Oak, for the crown of the best folk pub in the city, Sandy Bell’s has plenty of character (and characters). Such is the reputation of its often impromptu gigs that it’s a point of pilgrimage for fans of traditional music from all over the globe. There’s no food on offer; instead the focus is on good beer and fine whisky. Best frequented in the evenings, when the place really comes to life.
25 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh, EH1 2QH
The Bow Bar
Nestled on the winding slope of Victoria Street is the delightful Bow Bar, a favourite haunt of locals and any tourists lucky enough to stumble upon it. There’s good reason why this place is so popular: clued-up staff, a friendly atmosphere, an almost unrivalled choice of ales, and a gantry that boasts more than 250 malts.
80 West Bow, Edinburgh, EH1 2HH
Which other Edinburgh pubs deserve a mention? Tweet us your favourites @wow247edinburgh and we might include them in Part 2.
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