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5 Hidden Gems in Edinburgh

Destination(s): Edinburgh

Sick of being surrounded by dorky tourists in knee-high white socks and fanny packs? Head to these hidden gems in the city whose delights only locals know to embrace. read more about 5 Hidden Gems in Edinburgh

St. Bernard's Well

St. Bernard's Well

St. Bernard's Well, located in the Stockbridge neighborhood of Edinburgh (just 15 minutes outside of the city centre), is a round Roman-style temple whose legendary and "miraculous" mineral waters are purported to have cured various ailments including arthritis, back aches and blindness.

Its history (courtesy of FortuneCity): Legend has it that it was originally discovered by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the founder of the Cistercian Order, in the 12th Century. After being poorly received at court, and suffering from a sickness, he went to live in a cave near the Water of Leith. There, he was attracted to the spring by the birds which visited it and he drank its healing waters until his strength returned. Tradition says that it was rediscovered in 1760 by three Heriot's school boys who were fishing nearby. Chemical analysis would later reveal that the water was similar to the sulphur springs at Harrogate in Yorkshire. The mineral well soon became a popular resort for those afflicted by the fad for 'taking the waters'. By 1764, the well was so great an attraction that accommodation in the Stockbridge area was at a premium during the summer season. In August 1788, the well was bought by Lord Gardenstone, who claimed he had derived great benefit from drinking the waters and, in 1789, the present construction, a circular Roman Temple was commissioned by him. This elegant architectural structure in the form of a Doric rotunda is inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy. Under the lead dome stands a marble statue of Hygieia, Goddess of Health.

Modern times (courtesy of St. Bernard's Well must be something remarkable since many locals and out-of-town miracle seekers are willing to jump its surrounding iron gate (it is only open on special days, such as Open Doors Day) and brave the well's reportedly metallic smell (not to mention the waters' utterly foul taste).

According to, the best time to visit the well  is "an hour after a heavy rainstorm, when rainwater from the Pentlands thunders through the channels under the Dean Bridge." It is located in a deep valley surrounded by parks on either side and the Water of Leith which flows underneath.

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Ye Old Famous Peacock Inn

Ye Old Famous Peacock Inn

  • 100 lindsay road
  • tel:0131 552 8707
  • Visit website
  • Edinburgh, EH6 4TZ

Ye Old Famous Peacock Inn is a classy and quaint restaurant in Newhaven (a harbour and fishing village on the Firth of Forth within the city of Edinburgh, between Leith and Granton. It has about only 5000 inhabitants). Fittingly so, since many locals visit the Peacock Inn to taste some of the best fish and chips in the city. Come with your girl friends and enjoy an early evening fish tea party next to the inn's cozy fireplace. This restaurant is certainly a hidden gem in Edinburgh - not many tourists even know of its existence!

Visit the website to see what else is on the menu.

History of restaurant, courtesy of Old Peacock Inn:

Thomas Peacock was a vintner of Newhaven who  petitioned the Edinburgh Town Council in 1767 to grant him a few of the links and the houses on them. His petition was successful and the peacock quickly proved to be a most popular resort and an asset to the village.

Many famous people patronized the peacock. Charles Reade while studying the life of the fisher-folk for his novel "Christie Johnstone" stayed here and was long remembered by a pane of glass in one of the windows, inscribed not only with his name but bearing also the autograph of sir Henry Irving, the famous actor. unfortunately, this unique memorial was broken during a storm. In the restaurant bar hangs a photograph of three famous Scots poets, Hugh McDiarmid, Sydney Goodsir Smith and Norman McCaig, taken at the inaugural meeting of the 200 Burns Club held in the peacock on the 20th January 1959.
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Montpeliers Bar and Brasserie

Montpeliers Bar and Brasserie

  • 161 Bruntsfield Place
  • tel:0131 229 3115
  • Visit website
  • Edinburgh, EH10 4

Montpelier Bar and Brasserie in Bruntsfield is a stylish and dynamic restaurant and bar. The restaurant recently revamped its image adding - in their own words - "a cluster of gigantic Chesterfield sofas, some luxurious tub velvet chairs (you might want to cancel any afternoon appointments prior to taking a pew in one of these fellows) and chic floral designs on the walls."

Offering a range of foods from cheese boards to monkfish, the day and evening menus are delicious and for the most reasonably priced. It is a local favorite and usually crowded during most week nights, particularly on Sundays. Some patrons have complained that the music is too loud, the service too slow and the diners too pretentious. Judge for yourself!
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Canny Mans

Canny Mans

  • 237 Morningside Road
  • tel:0131 447 1484
  • Edinburgh

Courtesy of

"It's hard to know how to describe the interior of this pub! From the outside it looks just as any other pub but, once inside, the amount of 'things' adorning the ceiling and walls is amazing. There is no theme here though there are quite a few clocks around. Hanging from the ceiling there are ships, chinese umbrellas, tools, oars and all kinds of bits and bobs that look like they have been collected over many years. Maybe it is because of the clutter that the place looks so comfortable and homely. There are many rooms along the passage way leading to the main bar with a large room to one side for eating. The bar itself has hundreds of different whiskies lined up behind it and sat on one side is a large iced champagne bucket with drink already chilled costing £4.95 a glass. Vintage wines are available as are a good selection of Brandies, Rums etc. Good quality cigars are displayed on the bar. It is a nice touch when drinks are handed over the bar on a wooden tray along with a small dish of nibbles! The menu is based on Scandinavian Smorrebrod and reads well and there is a huge choice. Outside is a good sized beer garden. This is one place to revisit a few times to fully take it all in and another visit is scheduled!"

The Independent's take:

"Ever since Norman Balon hung up his bar towel after 62 years at the helm of Soho's Coach and Horses, would-be Jeffrey Bernards have been looking for a new "rudest landlord in Britain". I don't know about landlords, but The Canny Man's is a sure contender for the title of Unfriendliest Pub. But the frosty reception and the air of menace are all part of the theatre of this unique little boozer.

The onslaught on your confidence starts outside, where a sign reads: "no mobiles, no credit cards, no backpackers, no cameras..." Inside, an intimidating maîtresse d' guards the door with no less fury than Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell. If you manage to understand the ordering system (hint: write some code on paper, don't for god's sake try to talk to the waitress), you're in. And it is worth it.

Inside, The Canny Man's is a haven. All polished glass and glittering tableware, the bar offers hundreds of whiskys lined up like jewels along its back wall. The music is "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered". A stopped clock makes you want to stay for hours. This is pub décor and some: alongside the traditional mandolins and dusty jeroboams pinned to the walls are military uniforms, paintings, swords, prams and a boat. Then you look up: a shop mannequin is skewered to the ceiling, dressed as a witch. Perhaps the poor girl made the mistake of bringing in her mobile phone."

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Dominion Cinema

Dominion Cinema

  • 18 Newbattle Terrace
  • Morningside
  • tel:44 131 447 4771
  • Visit website
  • Edinburgh, EH10 4RT

Sometimes you just want to watch a movie no matter where you are. Why not watch one at the luxurious Dominion? This family-run cinema has a very cozy feel, entirely in keeping with the status of its owners. Enter the evocative 1930s art deco interior and choose between the four screens. Movies tend towards family flicks, but you will find the odd "18 or over" cropping up on the programme. Light bites and refreshments are on sale in the cafe until the end of the show.

Although slightly more expensive than the standard chain-movie theater, the Dominion offers comfy chairs,  leather double sofas and electric recliners in screen halls 1 and 2.

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