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An Insider’s Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

There’s a reason that Scotland‘s national animal is the unicorn (yep, that’s right, a unicorn!) and it’s because of this… Scotland is a place of mystery, ancient folklore and pure wonder. From its cities that appear to be stuck in time, to its looming highlands, to its lochs with infamous monsters and to its quaint coffee shops where mystical stories are written, it’s undeniable… Scotland is magical, plain and simple.

We had the pleasure of hopping on a easy flight from the newly-deemed New York Stewart International Airport, just 70 miles outside of Manhattan, to Edinburgh. It’s always nice to have another option that is a little less hectic than than JFK and Newark! And now that Norwegian Air is a new carrier at Stewart, hopping to the UK is easier and more affordable than ever. Win-win.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Upon arriving in Scotland’s capital, it became very clear… beyond the tartans, bagpipes and whisky ideals that many of us hold on to, there is so much to the country than meets the eye. Scotland, a gem of the northern corner of the United Kingdom, tickled our love for all things ancient, mystical and magical. Here are some of our “must-do’s” while exploring Scotland!

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Edinburgh

A place so mysterious, you’d expect Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde to appear at any moment! Edinburgh’s stoney facade feels so stuck in time, it’s incredible. After checking in to the absolutely sleek and charming Principal Hotel, perched on the banks of Edinburgh’s ports, our first hours of adventure started with traipsing around the historic and beautifully kept Leith district.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

While getting acquainted with the area, it was time to tour the The Royal Yacht Britannia. Imagine all the fabulous guests Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family would host while exploring the world on this gem! The ship sailed almost one million miles – which is literally the equivalent of going around the world once a year. Mind blown! Getting to learn about the ship’s rich history while getting to see the beautiful details The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh hand selected was so special. To top it all off, and send our minds into absolute imaginary delight, we finished our tour of the ship on lunch on the Royal Deck. Getting to imagine having tea with the Queen on this gem was a real treat!

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Afterwards, and feeling very posh, we began trekking to the towering and mysterious Edinburgh Castle, the crowning sight atop the Royal Mile on Castle Rock. Exploring the nooks and crannies of this ancient castle, as well as ogling at Scotland’s Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny was pure magic. You could absolutely imagine yourself in the Medieval Ages looking out from the top of the castle windows.

EXPLORE

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

STAY

EAT & DRINK

St. Andrew’s

A quaint, seaside town on the eastern coast of Scotland that is so charming! St. Andrew’s is now best known as the place where Prince William met Kate Middleton while in college, but it’s also stocked with some fabulous architecture and beautiful scenery. The ruins of St. Andrews Castle, with its medieval bottle dungeon, are not to be missed! And if you’re a golf fanatic, this might be THE place to go since it has been titled the “home” of golf. Active gals will love its gorgeous shoreline and hiking path.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

Dundee

Our days that followed were filled to the brim with cultural tastes of Scotland’s best. Scotland’s fourth largest city and coastal town, Dundee, was oh so delightful. Some highlights include learning all about the city’s art and design galleries, like the stunning Dundee Contemporary Arts complex filled with galleries, print studios, movie theaters and coffee shops, wandering the V&A Museum’s design-focused one stop shop for inspiration and discovery, and the fascinating McManus Museum, an old Victorian, Gothic building that houses Dundee’s 400 million year old collection of art and culture.

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EXPLORE

STAY

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EAT & DRINK

Aberdeen

Aberdeen, lovingly titled the “gem of the northeast,” was nothing but charming. Our time here really allowed us to learn all about the whisky culture Scotland is world-renown for. It was so amazing to learn about the process that each whisky goes through before it touches our lips! After touring the Arbikie Distillery, where barley and water is sourced from an underground lagoon and filtered through 400 million year old rocks (crazy right?!), it’s pretty easy to say that our time in Aberdeen was educational and also incredibly intoxicating!

And finally, the Dunnottar Castle, the romantic, evocative, powerful, ruined castle perched on the edge of the wild North-Sea. Do words ever do this place justice? This ancient fortress is a history-lover’s dream, a romantic’s fantasy and a feast for the eyes. The secrets this castle must have housed! To not become completely enamored with the rich history of this site is beyond our imagination. As our tour guide told us, “once seen – never forgotten.”

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & HistoryAn Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EXPLORE

STAY

An Insider's Guide To Scotland: Whisky, Magic & History

EAT & DRINK

Other Gems To Explore

Glasgow

The cultural hub of Scotland with oh so much to offer. This port city is set on the River Clyde in the western Lowlands, and is best known for its Victorian architecture. Walking around Glasgow feels like walking through history. The amount of opera houses, ballets, theaters and museums in this city is astounding.

Isle Of Skye

Best known for its craggy mountains, epic landscapes, quaint fishing villages and medieval castles. The Isle of Skye is a gem of a place to be astounded. The town of Portree, an awesome place to call “home” while on the island, has a ton of adorable pubs and shops. Make sure to explore the Dunvegan Castle, Armadale Castle, stand in awe of the Old Man of Storr, and the shores of the island filled with sea creatures.

Inverness

The perfect base before you jet off to the Loch Ness and the Highlands. This historic “city” is considered to be the capital of the Scottish Highlands and features an old Victorian Market and an amazing 18th century church and cathedral. Perhaps our favorite aspects of Inverness is its visitor center at Culloden, where the final battle between the wild Jacobite clans and the British government clashed and the Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness.

Islay

One word – scotch. Islay is the island off the west coast of Scotland where some of the best scotch is made in its numerous distilleries. If you have a love and fascination for the peaty single malt whiskies, this is your place!


Wherever you end up exploring… enjoy magical Scotland for all it’s worth!

Europe Hotels Luxury

Hotels We Love: Rosewood London

The timeless building that now houses the beautiful Rosewood London dates back to 1914 when it was once home to Pearl Assurance HQ. The moment you arrive to your temporary home and look up at the facade, you feel like you’ve just transported into a more glamorous era. I looked forward to entering the hotel through a stunning courtyard and gallery where I immediately felt a sense of calm away from the bustle of the city of London just outside its gates.



Contemporary artworks commissioned by Ruinart and various other artists decorate the hallways and grounds of the Rosewood, making this place more than a hotel but a destination within itself. Set in the heart of the hotel is a stunning 166-foot high cupola and and marble staircase that has an estimated value of £40 million!

Location
If you’ve been to London before and are looking for more of a local experience, London’s West End is the perfect place to stay and the Rosewood London is the gem located in the heart of this area. You’ll also be within walking distance from Covent Garden, Neal’s Yard and the Holborn tube station which can take you anywhere in London.

Rooms
262 guestrooms and 44 suites make up the Rosewood and each room is elegant, cozy and the perfect place to call home for a few days but the bathrooms are truly a treat. I felt like I was walking in a museum each time I walked in with its unique design with marble and silver touches.


Mirror Room
The staff truly make Afternoon tea in the Mirror Room an unforgettable experience. While the room is quite glamorous and can look a bit intimidating at first glance, the staff know exactly how to make you feel right at home. We were delighted to discover that we were among the first to try the hotel’s innovative take on tea time inspired by British artists and artists that have made a solid presence in the British art world. Each cake was inspired by the words of these artists but my favorite was the Banksy inspired cake pictured below!



Scarfes Bar
You know a hotel is doing something right when the local’s hang out at their bar. The cozy fire place, artworks covering the walls and velvet chairs make Scarfes an excellent place for a nightcap or just to enjoy some live music and beautiful craft cocktails.

Holborn Dining Room
While we didn’t get a chance to dine here, the vibe and atmosphere at the hotel’s restaurant is full of life and a great place to grab lunch and/or try Chef Calum’s famous British pies.

Matthew Curtis Hair Salon
A hidden gem of a hair salon hides in the lower level of the Rosewood where celebrity hair stylist creates magic in this Orient Express inspired space.

Shop My London Look

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. I was invited as guest by the Rosewood London. As always, all opinions are my own.

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