Scotland The Best is a tourist guide to the whole of Scotland. Pages 26-73 of this 2006/2007 edition of Scotland The Best are exclusive to Edinburgh, while the rest of the book looks at Glasgow and other regions. Edinburgh still makes frequent appearances in other sections of the book e.g. I.J. Mellis, the cheesemonger in Edinburgh, is highly rated in the Scottish cheeses section.
The author, Pete Irvine who holds an MBE for services to Edinburgh, has specific sections in the book that list the ‘best’ in that category. For example in “The Main Attractions” category for Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle is top with two ticks. Not every attraction is listed - only the best. And I have to say the book is excellent. This is perhaps not surprising when you read what the more established media says about Scotland The Best; the Sunday Times goes so far to say: “Makes all other guides to Scotland redundant”. I’m not sure about that - Scotland The Best includes maps, but not photographs that other guides such as Time Out would include. However if you’re a tourist coming to Edinburgh I would say Scotland The Best should be your first and main purchase. As a resident of Edinburgh, I trust it.
As a local to Edinburgh, did I learn or find anything about this city out? The answer is a resolute yes. I also agree with most of the recommendations I’m experienced to comment on. I was especially interested to read about attractions outside of Edinburgh. Even though Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital, there is a lot more to explore in this country. With this book it will be a whole lot easier.
The Best Restaurants section for Edinburgh has Martin Wishart coming out on top, even going so far to give it a commendation. I’ve never eaten there, but it is widely regarded as Edinburgh’s best restaurant. So no surprise there. I would have liked to have seen Haldanes listed in the Best restaurants category (it’s in the Best Scottish Restaurants section but has no ticks to elevate it). Oloroso’s inclusion in the Best restaurants category could also be argued; the last few visits I made were not the standard I would have hoped for. The Best Old ‘Unspoilt’ Pubs section is also interesting with the Hearts pub The Diggers being listed first and Clark’s bar on Dundas St also making a 1 tick appearance. Although I’d have thought Halfway House on Fleshmarket Close might have got a mention: it scooped a fair few awards from CAMRA. It’s good that a book is well researched enough to provoke this discussion though, unlike many of the other commercial guide books you might purchase.
The guide reviews places of all budget and taste. There are also the usual best hotels (a separate section for economy), best hostels and best tourist attractions listed in the book. The best takeaways are also listed- useful info for residents of Edinburgh. Two of my favourite sections are “The best views of the city” and “The best walks in the city”.
Overall I have to say this guide is fantastic. It’s written by someone who has genuinely visited places in Scotland and gained an appreciation of them. It’s not just a tourist guide, but a source of information on Scotland itself; information that can be used by anyone, including residents. It’s a huge classification system, that will be right far more often than wrong. I now have a much longer lists of restaurants, pubs and places to visit!
Over the past week I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Scotland the Best and wholeheartedly recommend you grab this 2006/2007 edition and do the same. Let me know what you think!