How we missed the fringe – but you can still get your culture fix in Edinburgh | Your Edinburgh staycation guide

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, a short drive from the city centre, features extensive collections of contemporary art and sculpture.
Photograph: Alice/Getty Images

Edinburgh without the summer festivals may feel like an anomaly to many visitors, but as a Unesco world heritage city and year-round artistic hotspot, it’s the ideal location to get your fix of culture whatever the season.

With social distancing now in place, why not seize the opportunity to reboot your love of getting away after all those months staying home? If you’re tempted to head to this elegant and inviting city, it’s a great idea to place yourself at its heart where you’ll have so many award-winning attractions within easy reach. When it comes to hotels, the well-located four-star Ten Hill Place Hotel at Surgeons Quarter in the Old Town should more than fit the bill.

“We are very central,” Mark McKenzie, the general manager, says. “We’re only a five to 10 minute walk from all the key tourist attractions, which are traditionally open all year, and we’re very close to Edinburgh Waverley too.”

Owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Ten Hill Place is unusual in its business model. As McKenzie explains: “All the profits that the hotel generates from bedrooms, coffee, or anything that we do here at Surgeons Quarter go back to the college, which then trains surgeons worldwide.”

During the height of the pandemic the hotel opened its doors to With six different room types available, all designed with comfort in mind, seasonal menus courtesy of executive chef Alan Dickson, and staff with excellent local knowledge, Ten Hill Place has all the elements to help you plan a safe and invigorating city break.

Here are five of the top cultural experiences guests can explore while staying at the hotel. Check out the individual websites for opening times and to book – and to find out about the social distancing measures in place.

The Scotch Whisky Experience
No trip to Edinburgh is complete without stopping to have a wee dram and with some of the finest whiskies in the world in its immediate vicinity, the Scotch Whisky Experience is just the place for that. Take a journey through the history of Scotland’s national drink and with help from expert guides, learn about how a distillery works as well as how geography, aroma and flavour all contribute to the creation of the perfect blend. At the heart of each tour and tasting experience is the Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection, which boasts 3,384 bottles of Scotch whisky, all of which have been collected over 35 years and are unopened and sealed in a magnificent glass vault.

The Wohl Pathology Museum

The Surgeons’ Hall Museums are home to one of the largest collections of pathology in the world

Surgeons’ Hall Museums
A truly fascinating venue for any lover of history and science, the Surgeons’ Hall Museums are a significant piece of Edinburgh’s medical past and conveniently located just round the corner from Ten Hill Place. While initially established as a teaching resource for students of medicine, the museums have been open to the public since 1832 and are home to one of the largest collections of pathology in the world. Visitors can browse bone and tissue specimens, learn about the discovery of chloroform as an anaesthetic or even hear about notorious murderers and body snatchers Burke and Hare.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Just a short drive away from the city centre, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is spread across two buildings not far from the city’s tranquil Dean Village, which sits on the banks of the Leith. Modern One and Modern Two both feature extensive collections of contemporary art and sculpture, with highlights including prominent surrealist and dada works, a recreation of Scottish sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi’s studio, and pieces by the likes of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Picasso, Andy Warhol and Barbara Hepworth. Aside from the striking buildings themselves, the eye-catching lawn and pools of water in front of Modern One, landscaped to a design by architect Charles Jencks, are a popular setting for quiet meanders.

Palace of Holyroodhouse
Located on the opposite end of the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, having served as the principal residence of a number of kings and queens since the 16th century. The baroque palace sits in the grounds of Holyrood Park, overlooked by the dramatic Salisbury Crags, and houses artworks, tapestries and plenty of historical treasures. Enjoy a walk through the colourful palace gardens, spend some time in the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, once one of the grandest medieval abbeys in Scotland, or simply take a breather and relax with some afternoon tea at the Cafe at the Palace.

National Museum of Scotland
Only a five-minute walk from Ten Hill Place, the National Museum of Scotland on Chamber Street is jam-packed with science, culture and technology, and has collections that take you through the history of Scotland as well as across the world, and even the universe. The soaring glass atrium of the grand gallery kicks off every visit, and from this light-filled space you can head off to discover a T rex, the mighty Schmidt telescope, the Egyptian coffin of the Qurna queen, the 12th-century Lewis chessmen, and even Dolly the (cloned) Sheep. You can spend hours getting lost amid the delights on each level, and the ticketed temporary exhibitions are always worth a gander too, with the current exhibition, Scotland’s Precious Seas, providing an interesting look at Scotland’s diverse sea life.

To discover all that Ten Hill Place has to offer, and to book your autumn break, head to the hotel’s website

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