Miracle Mile | The Inn On The Mile, 82 High Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1LL
Scotland holds so many happy childhood memories for me. During the late 70s and early 80s we would all jump in the back of my dad’s Alegro estate and make the epic journey up to the tiny village of Ballater in Aberdeenshire for a holiday. We’d paddle in streams, tumble down heather covered hills, go bareback horse riding and build camps in the forest. No need for WiFi back then, not when any old stick could be transformed into a Lightsaber.
Fast forward a few decades and We Love Food visit Scotland, albeit by a different mode of transport and in a very different location. We jumped on our East Coast Trains King’s Cross to Edinburgh service and found our seats in the first class carriage (click here for prices – and be on the lookout for their frequent special offers). I only mention we travelled first class A) The tickets were free B) because we never usually do. And C) because we heard a rumour that they serve complimentary drinks. They did, the alcoholic variety. These G&Ts helped the four and a half hour journey fly by, that and the company of a lovely Scottish couple. Oh and East Coast Trains offer free (but slightly intermittent) internet connection if you can’t do without for a few hours!
Travelling by train took so much stress out of our journey. No long argumentative drive, no hefty petrol bill and no parking issues at the other end. Instead you get to sit back, relax, drink, chat and take in some beautiful British countryside. There’s also the added convenience of ending your journey at Waverley Station sandwiched between Princes Street and The High Street, two of Edinburgh’s most popular areas.
Our bed for two nights was at the small but perfectly formed Inn On The Mile whom had invited us to stay. Reception is tucked away in the corner of the Inn On The Mile‘s ground floor bar and kitchen. The uber friendly staff directed us towards a little reserved table to have our complimentary arrival drink (had to be a wee dram).
The property was originally a bank (then the dated Bank Hotel) and it still retains some of these features. There’s a deposit box and a wide, heavy wooden door that used to lead to the safe rooms. The ceilings are high, really high and edged with the original cornicing. While hefty steel girders and exposed brick and stonework hold it all together. Rows upon rows of steel plant pots line the far wall, but what takes center stage is the huge picture windows behind the bar. In front of this is modular shelving displaying the Inn On The Mile‘s huge collection of whisky. At night the street lights flood in through this window and illuminate the bottles, creating a calming warm amber glow, beautiful!
We sipped our whisky as our bags were taken up to our room – and what a room it was. Decor was simple, clean and classic, with some very modern touches. The ceilings are not high as downstairs but the original sash windows were huge, one wall was completely hidden by crisp cream curtains behind which were great views along the Royal Mile.
It had everything we needed for a relaxed weekender. There’s a flat screen LCD TV with Sky, free WiFi, iPod dock (with speakers in the ceiling) and even GHD hair straighteners & hairdryer. There’s also an iron & ironing board, safe, a brilliantly different minibar and everything you need to make a warming cup of tea or a fresh coffee. (Click HERE to take a little tour of our room.)
The bed was massive, the pillows soft and the duvet cosy. We can see why so many people over sleep and miss breakfast. But it’s the bathroom that is the star, it’s beautiful (and must be a bugger to keep all shiny and clean). There are floor to ceiling glass doors, a relaxing rainforest shower, a roll top bath big enough for two, huge anti-steam mirrors and toiletries by The White Company – bliss.
So after a nice cup of tea and a tunnock’s caramel wafer we had a stroll around the city to get our bearings. Edinburgh is quite an easy city to navigate, it just seems that everything is up hill, involves climbing steps or nipping down little alleyways (called Closes). The Inn On The Mile is in a near perfect location, slap bang in the middle of the Royal Mile and only a brisk fifteen minute walk to Princes Street, Edinburgh’s primary shopping area.
Our Friday night’s meal was booked back at the hotel. The bar and dining area had taken on a completely different feel. Candles twinkled on the tables and the before mentioned whiskey display radiated an amber glow into the room. The bar was busy but not cramped and service was swift. This wasn’t a bar for hen and stag parties (although I’m sure they would be made to feel welcome), there were young couples, small groups of friends, obvious tourists and even more obvious locals.
I shot myself in the foot and ordered a pint of Guinness whilst sat at the bar waiting for our table. Why I ordered an Irish stout, when they have their very own ale, I do not know – schoolboy error! The menu is fairly basic but as they say ‘We don’t go in for tiny portions of unpronounceable food… Instead we love fresh produce, hearty cooking and a good stiff drink to wash in all down.’
Saff ordered a Pearberry £5.50, this very reasonably priced cocktail-ale mixed Xante pear cognac, Chambord, fresh lemon juice, bitters and was topped with Deuchars IPA. It started well with a sweet yet strong kick but some how the bitters and ale all seemed to sink to the bottom of the glass leaving a slight medicinal aftertaste. Maybe Saff should have kept stirring her drink?
To start I had to go for the Macsween Haggis, neeps and tatties £4.99, well when in Rome. This was the first time I’d had ‘proper’ haggis and I was pleasantly surprised, a lot meatier than I had imagined with a good texture from the oatmeal. The neeps (swedes) and tatties were the perfect texture, not too coarse, not too puréed, just right (as McGoldilocks would say) and smothered in a deliciously rich Glenkinchie whisky gravy. Saff played a little safer with the warming and sweet Carrot and orange soup £3.49.
Choice for the main dishes may seem a little limited but remember this is a bar and kitchen not a fully fledged gastro pub. All the usual suspects are there and all cooked well using fresh local produce. I’m a sucker for a pie and The Inn On The Mile‘s Traditional steak pie £9.99 was good value. It came with all the trimmings, a light crispy pastry lid (if maybe a little burnt). Saff’s Crombies sausages £8.99, were big, dense, meaty and filling. So much so she could only manage one of them, she managed to polish off the mash and gravy though!
There are only four desserts, but this point I’d began to excitedly scan the epic whisky list. Saff ordered the Mackies ice cream pot £4.99, served with a wee flake, a few strawberries and a chunk of butter tablet. My Raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake £4.99, ticked all the boxes. You can’t go wrong with sharp berries and creamy white chocolate. I ate as I read about the whisky, I felt like something full-bodied and smokey, a wee dram of Bowmore (12 years old/40%) with a chunk of ice in a crystal cut glass. Now this is the life.
The bar began to fill and live music began to play, The Inn On The Mile has something going on every evening, and as Saff didn’t like me singing along we decided to call it a night and head up to that massive bed. The hotel even has a ‘tucking in service’, a complimentary hot drink, a book and a hot water bottle delivered to your room, another thoughtful touch.
A word of warning though, the rooms aren’t overly sound proof. At 3am what seemed like the entire student population spilled out of the nightclubs and filtered past the hotel on their way home, then a couple of hours later the church bells decided it was time to let me know that it was 5am. A quick visit to Boots for some earplugs sorted the next night’s sleep.
Overall, The Inn On The Mile is a fantastic little boutique hotel. The staff are friendly yet professional, the rooms look beautiful and are well equipped and maybe most importantly it couldn’t be in a better location.
Here’s a little bonus list of a couple of places to eat/drink/visit when in Edinburgh:
• Have a bowl of proper Scottish porridge and a decent cup of coffee at The Edinburgh Larder Cafe.
• Walk the Royal Mile from the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, perched high on volcanic rock, down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse resting in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat. Half way down the Royal Mile, step back in time and visit The Real Mary King’s Close.
• Pop over to Stockbridge and eat at two of Edinburgh’s most popular restaurants, Tom Kitchin‘s relaxed Scran & Scallie and Mark Greenaway‘s little more formal Bistro Modern. There is a lovely little food market in Stockbridge on Sundays too.
• Just behind the bustle of Princes Street on Thistle Street is Bon Vivant, a cool little informal bar and restaurant that serves excellent cocktails. And just a little further up on Hanover Street is The Dogs, a great value, easy access restaurant serving up everything that’s good about Scottish and British ingredients.
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 9am to 12am,
Friday & Saturday 9am to 1am
Nearest station: Waverley Station Edinburgh