Edinburgh Dungeons is a macabre visitor attraction buried deep beneath Edinburgh. It depicts the darkest chapters of Scottish history in grisly detail. The Dungeon has a wonderfully interactive emphasis, with actors, rides and tableaux combining horror and humour to tell their tales of terror and torture, mutilation and mass murder, persecution and pestilence.
Please note: The Edinburgh Dungeon may not be suitable for very young children, or for those of a nervous (or squeamish) disposition.
31 Market Street
Tel: 0131 240 1000
This fantastic pub in Leith has spectacular views of the Firth of Forth (try and get an outside table for the best views) and the staff are really friendly. It is 'the' place in Leith to grab a drink or a quick meal (the lamb stew is the best dish). It's great for families as children are allowed in the conservatory upstairs.
Trinity Cres, Leith, Edinburgh
Tel: 0131 552 1233
This is a PUB if ever there was one. The clientele here is varied. Old men lust after trendy young things while serious chaps discuss the sport of the day. Truckers in dungarees ponder the form at Ayr. Families arrange themselves around tables. The tables are numbered. Pick your grub from the menu chalked up on the board. Go to the bar and order. A brilliant lunch. Food at its best. Shepherd’s Pie done to a turn. Chilli con Carne with a bite and a Sirloin to tempt the Gods themselves.
The Vaults have a truly spooky atmosphere because of its gruesome past (it was alledgedly used by bodysnatchers as a storage place for their corpses). It was also where many of Edinburgh's poorer citizens lived in filthy squalor as they were evicted from the site of the New Town. Go on a guided tour to appreciate it fully.
The Vaults lie under South Niddry Street and Blair Street in the Old Town.
Breakfast. Forget those spartan breakfasts with a few dodgy rolls and luke-warm coffee. This was it. Everything for the cosmopolitan traveller, including as near to an Ulster fry as you’ll ever get.
Are your taste buds beginning to tremble at the thought of such seductive fare? Is the saliva flowing? The sheer joy of savouring the smell from a plate with rashers of succulent shavings of bacon beside plump juicy sausages and carefully fried eggs. This, complemented with those hallmarks of excellence, soda bread and potato bread, and black pudding and grilled tomato cooked properly, with the tomato beginning to blacken and the pudding just on the verge of crisping. Which of us has not succumbed to temptation at some time?
And as for the philistines who claim that a fry does not fix a hangover… let them feel the soothing balm of such fodder on a morning when the hands shake and the pulsing head yearns for pity and even death is seen as a welcome release. When eternal promises to never again indulge in the demon drink are made. When even the Almighty is invoked in an effort to remove the awful consequences of over-indulgence. It is then that the magical restorative properties of the fry come into their own.
To witness such a miracle is to visit any early opening restaurant on a Saturday or Sunday morning when pathetic specimens of humanity, who, the previous night, ready to take on the world, now cringe at the sound of a closing door. The secret is to find The Right Place. And here it was. In the breakfast room of the St James Thistle.
St James Centre, Edinburgh;
tel: 0131 556 0111
The stretch of Kingsland Road between Shoreditch and Hackney can seem barren at the best of times, with little more than car mechanics and tool hire shops to stop for, but a sure sign that things are changing is The Fox, a gastropub ripe for serving the new cluster of flats springing up in the area.
The menu is organic, and changes monthly, and they have a special menu for kids. Sunday morning is a real family-fest. When I visited the patrons seemed to span in age from 8 months to 80 years.
372 Kingsland Road, London E8; tel: 020 7254 4012
Best pub in Brighton. Perched on the end of the pier with portholes for windows, all manner of life is here: hardened drinkers and shell-suited daytrippers mingle with pale-ale drinking OAPs, fashion students and clubbers who haven't made it home yet. For sheer entertainment value (it's Brighton's only karaoke bar) it can't be beaten.
At the end of the Palace Pier.
A list of places that benefit local people directly – there are over 300 in 60 countries in this book. Something to suit every taste and budget including local-style holidays, treks, construction projects in Tibet, art holidays, and culinary and luxury retreats.
A delightful little eatery hidden away on a back street near The Village. If you like you dining outings to be a relaxed, enjoyable event then you will love it. Taking inspiration from centuries old Mongolian warrior traditions, you select your raw food (a host of meats, vegetables, sauces and spices) and one of the talented chefs grills and cooks the meal before your eyes. Wonderful decor and polite, attentive staff make this one of the most original and enjoyable eating experiences in Manchester.
16 Chorlton Street, Manchester (walkable from Picadilly Gardens and station);
tel: 0161 228 1631;
Rick's is a great bar/restaurant with rooms on Frederick Street just off Princes Street.
The food is lovely and the place very buzzy. The rooms are pretty stylish in a luxurious minimalism sort-of way. Rooms with breakfast cost £129/night - pretty good value.
Frederick St, Edinburgh
f arriving by train and going to any city centre hotel I recommend either taxi or tram. The taxi rank and tram station are right next to the station.
Broadmarsh bus station is about 300metres from the rail station, from here you can get long distance coaches. All other buses use the areas around the city centre for stopping. If you use the bus network make sure you have the correct change as NO change is given at all. Be aware when walking/waiting around bus/tram stops as pickpockets are rife, and these areas are extremely crowded.
Nottingham’s public transport is fully integrated and if you are using more than one mode or making various journeys ask for a "Kangaroo ticket" on any bus, tram or suburban train. Its about £4 per day but enables unlimited travel all day within greater Nottingham on all forms of public transport. Well worth it when you consider that it costs £1.20 for a single on the tram, no matter where you get off.
It was a lovely place to stay with stylishly decorated rooms and a funky bar/breakfast area. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful and the breakfast option included a feast of fresh fruit, honey and yoghurt as an alternative to the (what looked lovely) traditional English (organic) breakfast.
9 Oriental Place, Brighton.
A cracking, friendly South London pub/comedy club with great acts and a top atmosphere. Perfect antidote to some stuffy West End night spots. Inside, its like a tardis with a maze of coridors and old fashioned function rooms which are packed by 7 on weekends. Comedian's who have cut their teeth at the famous 'banana caberet' include Dave Gorman, David Baddiel and Ross Noble. Get there early!
77 Bedford Hill, Balham SW12 9HD, www.thebedford.co.uk, 020 8682 8940
It's in an old warehouse building just off Brick Lane (Hanbury street) running on Sunday mornings. It's far less crowded than the nearby Spitalfields Market which was cut in half by a redevelopment and is now too crowded with too many identikit stalls. It's got craft/jewellery, clothes and food stalls (excellent Ethopian food as well as all the usual suspects). Lots of beautiful stuff from new designers and a few quirky and fashionista clothes stalls. Good world music CD stall. And the Big Chill bar/historic Shoreditch is just round the corner.Get there around 11-12am and it's not crowded. Lock up bikes securely.....
Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street off Brick Lane.Nearest Station/Underground Liverpool Street
This chain of noodle restaurants is so much better than Wagamama, and quite a bit cheaper (and you get your own table). Get the jasmine green tea with free top-ups and tuck in to their hot and sour seafood noodles - delicious!
Duncan Street, N1 (Angel tube) and Southampton Row, WC1 (Holborn/Russell Square tube)
Guesthouse West is a small boutique hotel in Notting Hill. I like it because the staff are friendly (it doesn't lose intimacy as large hotels can) and its decor is both classy and comfortable. Being there simply makes you feel good about yourself.
The food and drink are a little expensive for my taste, but if you're in the mood to treat yourself, they are of high quality.
Even cities with a cultural standing as magnificent as Oxford have their sleazy little corners. Not much bigger than the inside of a bus, Downtown Manhattan's is the cheesy dive where no-one wants to end up but everyone always does.
3 George Street; tel: 01865 721101; proximity usually indicated by a trail of pavement pizzas
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