New Town, Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s ‘New Town’ isn’t really that new in the grand scheme of things. The city first evolved around the castle, sat atop the most defensible point in the area, which centuries ago was sensible practice. Edinburgh Castle is now the city’s most visited tourist attraction, normally welcoming more than 2 million visitors every year, and although it’s technically in the area known as the Old Town, it’s only a few minutes’ travel time from the New Town.
As the population of the Old Town grew over the centuries, living conditions deteriorated and the creation of a New Town was deemed necessary. If you were a city planner at the time this was the equivalent of playing the SimCityTM computer game, but with real life results. Built in stages between 1767 and 1850 to the north of the Old Town, the New Town was laid down in a grid-style and built to a neo-classical style of architecture fashionable at the time. Many of the city’s wealthy residents were delighted to make the move, particularly to one of the most desirable squares, St Andrew Square, where The Edinburgh Grand currently sits. By the late 1800s the square was the place to be, attracting more than its fair share of banks and commercial premises.
Today the square is still home to prestigious banks, but also hotels, restaurants and high-end shops including the Edinburgh branch of Harvey Nichols. Atop the Melville Monument in the centre of the square is a statue of Henry Dundas, an 18th century lawyer and politician whose legacy continues to attract scrutiny.
St Andrew Square is well positioned for the city’s central railway station, Waverley, and also a handy tramline that connects the centre of town with Edinburgh’s airport. The three streets framing the square heading west are Princes Street, George Street and Queen Street, all of which have something distinct to offer, from shopping to nightlife to gorgeous architecture.
It’s worth mentioning that Edinburgh’s topography means that although the Old Town and New Town are not geographically far apart, it’s a fair old climb from the New Town to the Old on foot – comfy shoes are a must. Failing that, there are frequent buses and taxis to whisk you across town. Make sure to ask our team for their favourite local haunts, and don’t neglect the area to the northeast of the New Town, Leith, which has a vibrant restaurant scene and is home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, itself worth the detour.