My home for three years and the first place I rented a flat, Abbeyhill is a super underrated neighbourhood of Edinburgh. Friends of mine have brushed it off as ‘somewhere practically in Leith’, and others have declared it ‘dodgy’; but I’ve loved living in one of the oldest parts of the city. Here’s why:
1. I woke up to an extinct volcano everyday
From my tall bedroom window, I could see the small figures of people perched on the peak of Arthur’s Seat each morning and night. I knew that some of them would be looking back down at my street as they scanned Edinburgh’s heritage skyline. The best views happened when the setting sun cast a golden glow over the crags; this was usually in autumn when I would drop my bags as I got home and lay on my pillow watching the darkness creep in.
2. Safari Lounge was my local
Animal print seat covers, exotic art and an explorer themed bathroom stall; The Safari Lounge is a refreshing watering hole in the hazy area between Holyrood and Leith. Entering the jungle, you’ll even find a gummy snake in one of their phenomenal cocktails. I used to go here on dates when I was feeling too lazy (or taking too long getting ready) to head into town; but mostly I would drop in for food, back when they had my favourite curry on the menu.
3. Picnics were a breeze
There are two essentials for a successful picnic: an Instagram-worthy location with a good blanket; and food. The thing about Abbeyhill is, you’ve got both! There is a big supermarket in the Meadowbank outlet; and just a ten-minute walk from there is the immense stretch of grass at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. Night time strolls (definitely not by yourself) are also amazing in Holyrood Park – I’ve seen countless shooting stars; a rarity in even a small city.
4. I could buy my magazines just around the corner
I’m not talking about your typical supermarket shelf magazines – I’m talking about the Frankies and the Oh Comelys of the world that I often had to make my way up to the International Newsagents to source. Fortunately, the new Century General Store on Montrose Terrace has them all. I’m not moving too far out of Abbeyhill, so I’ll make sure I keep getting my fix of quality magazines from this side of Edinburgh…
5. TK Maxx was tantalizingly close
If you need to up the style of your bland rented flat, having a large TK Maxx just around the corner definitely helps. I’ve come home with a camel, plates, cushions, throws and more; when really I just popped out for some cereal.
6. Cake was never that far away either…
Art and Vintage is a seriously cool place to sit and work, enjoy a lunch date or browse gorgeous vintage homewares (like my new dining table!). If you like anything with a Scandinavian edge, you’ll love getting your coffee and cake fix right here.
7. But I could run it off in Holyrood
Cake is good, but the motivation to exercise is far too often not there. Thankfully, every so often a race, marathon or general sporting event would suddenly appear in Holyrood Park which always got me itching to move. Except on the occasional, fragile, Sunday morning when booming music pulsating through the walls of my flat was not appreciated…
8. We have our own art festival
Have you heard of Colony of Artists? It’s a very eclectic exhibition that runs in September in Abbeyhill, and features over 60 different artists across neighbourhood venues. This year, the theme is the past and present of Abbeyhill; but the exhibition has been running since 2005 when nine artists threw open the doors of their homes for a weekend in the beautiful Abbeyhill Colonies.
9. I was never, ever late for anything
London Road is noisy, dirty, and definitely not pretty. But it’s also the best route into town with buses more or less every five minutes. That gave me no excuses to not go out and see people (not that I’ve ever needed any!).
10. Steam trains were a close encounter
I love the sound of trains rolling past, and I’ll miss living beside the tracks. I think this fascination comes from the movie Strictly Ballroom which I watched on repeat as a kid. The scene where they dance Paso Doble on the decking as trains roared past will stick with me forever. Every year, a passing steam train would be enough to make me drop everything I was doing and run to the window to listen to the whistle and watch the steam billow out across my windows. Talking of transport, the first ever British hot-air balloon flight took place in Abbeyhill; it was flown by James Tytler in 1784…