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A Winter Escape To Edinburgh

January 4, 2015
The living room is just the spot to while away a rainy winter's afternoon. The honesty bar is off to one side.

The lounge is just the spot to while away a rainy winter’s afternoon. The honesty bar is off to one side. There’s even an ice maker.

As much as I love modern gizmos like the internet and the ring-pull can, I’m also quite enamoured of the olden days. Not the smelly, uncomfortable olden days, mind you. Just the rosy-cheeked, probably-never-really-existed, stuff-of-romantic-fancy ones.

You get my drift. I’m talking leather-bound classics, roaring fireplaces, household antiques, cosy candlelit corners, Chesterfield couches, quaint old prints in gilt frames, Charles Dickens sipping a snifter in a low-ceilinged tavern, and so on.

Which brings me to 23 Mayfield, a bed-and-breakfast establishment that has all of those things in spades (except for Dickens, obviously, although his collected works grace one of the well-stocked bookcases).

Put simply, 23 Mayfield gets every detail, and every big thing, absolutely right. Located on one of Edinburgh’s elegant streets, about a mile from the action and within a bull’s roar of Arthur’s Seat, the Victorian house is the perfect base for a weekend in the Scottish capital. (BTW if you’re an adult and have lived in the U.K. all your life and have never been to Edinburgh, consider yourself sat on the naughty step until you agree to buy a train ticket and go.)

We arrived on Friday evening on the midnight train from London, armed with the security code for the front door and clear instructions to ascend the second staircase and find our room (number 9, a very good ‘un as it turned out). But we were a bit pissed, thanks to East Coast Rail’s enthusiastic hospitality, so we clattered and giggled our way up the first set of stairs, reading out all the room numbers in stage whispers until we realised our mistake. Apologies to those we woke up. When we did eventually find our toasty-warm, plushly-carpeted, and soothingly-lit room, we were greeted by a friendly, handwritten note asking us to fill out our breakfast order and place it on the hall table, downstairs.

I could go on about the breakfast, but I’ll resist the temptation. You can peruse it yourself right here The dishes are every locally-sourced morsel as fabulous as they sound, from the yogurt served with boozy fruits to the Full Scottish with haggis and tattie scones. Awards have been won, international accolades given, and I’m not at all surprised.

With breakfast done, you’re well set up for exploring all that Edinburgh has to offer. On the Sunday of our stay, however, it pissed with rain so hard we thought we’d stay in. As 23 Mayfield is the sort of place in which you can pad about wearing your bathrobe (supplied), we donned said robes, slipped into our house-trousers, made a cup of tea, and settled into the Chesterfield couches in the lounge for an afternoon of reading. We listened smugly to the wind, rain, and general bluster do their worst outside. If we weren’t “trying to be good” that day, we’d have been welcome to help ourselves to the liquid goodies in the honesty bar.

As it was just before Christmas, the main rooms were festooned with sparkly decorations, and Dean Martin and Bing Crosby crooned seasonal favourites softly in the background. In the summer months, I’m sure 23 Mayfield’s front and rear gardens come into their own, as does the hot tub out the back. We’ve booked for July, so we’ll find out soon enough!

Contact 23 Mayfield at

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