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The most famous depiction of Leith — Irvine Welsh’s bestselling novel Trainspotting — is also a testament to the neighbourhood’s evolution. Three decades on, Welsh’s derelict 1980s Edinburgh streets have been transformed into a vibrant district with a solid reputation among foodies and design lovers. Hop on the 22 bus north from the city centre and discover these six hotspots in Edinburgh’s most exciting neighbourhood.

WHERE TO EAT: The Kitchin
Scandi-chic meets the Highlands at this Michelin-starred restaurant from Scottish celebrity chef Tom Kitchin. Located in a former whiskey bond warehouse, the dining room blends the original stone and wood elements with white oak plank floors, tone-on-tone wallpaper and tartan upholstery. The focus is on local fare (a mini map of where products are sourced is included at each table) with a seasonal, “nature-to-plate” menu that's heavy on seafood and decadence. Orkney scallops are served on a clamshell en croûte, smothered in a sauce of white wine, vermouth and wild herbs. If you have two hours to spare, we recommend the ever-changing six-course Classic Kitchin Surprise Tasting Menu.
78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, 44-131-555-1755,

WHERE TO STAY: Malmaison
Leith’s only boutique hotel sits at the end of The Shore, a cobble-stoned, restaurant-packed strip that lines a canal. Built in 1883 as a seaman’s mission, the renovated 100-room property is a cozy base from which you can easily get into the Old Town for a play. Or you can always go strolling along the Water of Leith Walkway — a 20-km public footpath that starts here and runs through the heart of the city to the southern suburb of Balerno. The hotel even provides a handy laminated running map with a suggested route. After jogging, order breakfast to your room: a fresh selection of viennoiseries, homemade granola and jams that arrive in wicker hampers.
1 Tower Place, Edinburgh, 44-844-693-0652,

WHERE TO SHOP: Kinloch Anderson
This is the definition of “heritage brand.” For over 100 years, Kinloch Anderson has been the official kilt maker and tailor to the royal family. At their Leith production facility and shop, pick up your own kilt or silk scarf in popular patterns, including the Black Watch Tartan made of dark greens, blues and black. Visitors with Scottish lineage can even try to track down their own clan’s tartan. The store includes a small museum displaying custom designs created for American Express, Chivas Regal and Royal Yacht Britannia — the Queen’s former residence at sea, docked just a few blocks away at Ocean Terminal
4 Dock St., Edinburgh, 44-131-555-1390,

WHERE TO DRINK: The Roseleaf
Situated in a stand-alone heritage building, this cozy pub offers teatime with a kick. Cocktails for two are served in a teapot instead of a tumbler – perfect if you want an afternoon pick me up without the judgment. We particularly liked the Rose Garden — a refreshing mix of Hendricks gin, freshly juiced apples, rose liqueur and cucumber — and the Mad-Hatter, which consists of coconut rum, lime and a dose of the bar’s homemade spicy ginger beer (it tastes pretty good on its own too). Borrow a hat from the bar’s impressive collection and throw your own “T-Party.” The gathering, which must be booked at least 24 hours in advance, includes both savoury and sweet bites for an afternoon tea in the tradition of Lewis Carroll.
23/24 Sandport Place, Edinburgh, 44-131-476-5268,

Mimi's BakehouseMimi's Bakehouse (image courtesy of Mimi's Bakehouse)

WHERE TO INDULGE: Mimi’s Bakehouse
Whether you’re craving chocolate fudge or something “healthier” like naked carrot cake, you’ll want to return to Mimi’s several times throughout your stay to see what head baker Gemma Phillips has concocted in the on-site bakery. Mimi’s also serves savoury breakfast and lunch options like Morroccan-style pulled lamb and a tart of the day. With ornate coffered ceilings and cheeky black-and-white pin-up motif by British illustrator DuPenny adorning the walls, the interior is just as memorable as the food.
63 Shore, Edinburgh, 44-131-555-5908,

WHERE TO PLAY: Out of the Blue Drill Hall
This cultural non-profit, housed in a defunct military barracks, hosts artists’ studios, performance spaces, monthly flea markets and art workshops. If you’re in town on Wiff Waff Wednesdsay, stop by to challenge Leithers to a free game of table tennis in the Arts Café. For an intriguing brunch experience, try the monthly Bruncheon (a.k.a. The Sound of Muesli) series: an elaborate midday brunch set to live performances from local musicians.
36 Dalmeny St., Edinburgh, 44-131-555-7100,



Getting There

Air Canada rouge offers the only non-stop service via Toronto to Edinburgh, with up to five weekly flights between mid-June and October 12.

Comments… or add another

Tracey-Ann Bovey

Tuesday, August 11th 2015 14:12
Amazing that yet another "derelict" region of the UK has been regenerated. Locals can still remember the dismal state of the dis-used docks and wharfs in Leith. Still good to know that some of the original pubs and bars have survived albeit surrounded by lots of new trendy hipster haunts.

Tracey Bovey

Monday, August 17th 2015 07:35
I was brought up in this area of Edinburgh during the time of rapid decline in the 1970's. It is splendid to learn that another "derelict" region of the UK has been regenerated. I can still remember the dismal state of the dis-used docks and wharfs in Leith. Still good to know that some of the original pubs and bars have survived albeit surrounded by lots of new trendy hipster haunts.
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