Tag Archives: travel europe

Royal Mile in Edinburgh Scotland

Where to Eat and Drink in Edinburgh


I’m leaving for Scotland in a couple of weeks. Any recommendations for great restaurants and bars (for the over-30 crowd, please!) in Edinburgh? Thanks!

—Faby S.


Faby, you’re in luck because Edinburgh has gone through a culinary boom lately.  It’s now got five Michelin-starred restaurants—which is pretty impressive for a city of only 500,000 people. On top of that, 2014 is Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, so you’ll find several food and drink festivals on tap.

To get an answer for you from someone who knows Edinburgh well, I reached out to Jonathan Epstein of Celebrated Experiences.  As a first-rate travel planner for Scotland, he’s there frequently, road-testing  not only the restaurants and pubs but also the hotels, car services, expert guides, etc. The secret to Edinburgh’s culinary success, he says, is the combination of innovative Scottish chefs and fresh local ingredients, from farm-to-table vegetables and fruit to excellent seafood, lamb, and Angus beef.  Many restaurants are so in-demand that it can be very  tough to get a table, but that’s where Jonathan wields his local connections on his travelers’ behalf, not only getting them reservations but getting them VIP’d.  “Food tastes better when people are being extra nice to you,” he points out.

Here are the spots he recommends: 


The Kitchin:  “Tom Kitchin is an amazing chef, and dinner there is not only delicious but educational. They hand out maps of Scotland to guests to show exactly where the food is sourced from. And, when we call ahead on behalf of travelers, Tom comes out and walks them through the menu, teaching about foraging and his local producers.”

Castle Terrace:  “A few years ago, Tom Kitchin opened a second fine-dining restaurant, and it quickly also earned a Michelin star.”

Restaurant Martin Wishart: “He was the first Michelin-starred chef in Edinburgh.  His restaurant opened in 1999 and received a star in 2001. He also has a contemporary brasserie called The Honours that our travelers love!”

Paul Kitching 21212: “A very fun and innovative restaurant by Chef Paul Kitching. Don’t come here if you need lots of options.  Do come here if you want a meal made to perfection with incredibly fresh ingredients.  The menu changes daily, and the name of the restaurant is based on the number of choices you have for each course.  You get a choice of two starters, two mains, and two desserts.  The midcourses…no choice!  Lunch is very accessible, at just $37 per person right now.”

The Pompadour:  “Two years ago, after a grand refurbishment, The Caledonian was rebranded as a Waldorf Astoria hotel.  The fantastic Galvin brothers, behind so much dining success in London, opened a brilliant restaurant there called Pompadour.”


Wildfire: “Delicious, non-pretentious presentation of great steaks and seafood.”

Scotch Malt Whisky Society: “It’s a private club, but we can arrange entry into it. We also arrange special whisky tastings and even dinner with whisky pairings.”

Wedgewood: “It serves great Scottish cuisine, and you are never rushed because tables are not turned: You’ll be the only one enjoying that table the night you are there.”

The Indian Cavalry Club: “It’s the Best Indian food in Edinburgh, and remember, eating Indian is a must when in Britain.”

Fishers in the City: “Great buzz and atmosphere.  Popular with locals, and open late!”

Angels with Bagpipes: “For less formal nights out, this has been a favorite of ours for quite some time. It’s under new management, and we still hear great reviews from travelers.”

Cucina: “Should you get a craving for Italian food, this restaurant at G&V Royal Mile Hotel is the one to choose.”


The Scran & Scallie: “Tom Kitchin’s gastro pub. Terrific local beers.”

The Devil’s Advocate: “Located in an old Victorian pump house in Old Town.”

Sandy Bell’s: “Our favorite for traditional local music.”

Deacon Brodies Tavern: “Best pub on The Royal Mile.”

Guildford Arms: “Beautiful, traditional pub.”

The Abbotsford: “Another beauty. We love the traditional Scottish ales, the curved bar, and the Victorian ceiling.”

The Black Cat: “A very atmospheric bar specializing in whisky.”

Café Royal Oyster Bar: “Gorgeous bar, with a nice selection of Scottish beers.  Tasty fresh mussels and oysters (and much more).”


Faby, if you can’t get to every one of these, you can always live vicariously by following Jonathan’s Instagram page.



Omaha Beach Normandy France

The Best Way to Tour Europe’s World War II Sites


Hi Wendy,

My husband and I are seasoned travelers and would like to take a trip to see some of Europe’s important World War II sights, including Normandy, the Ardennes, Amsterdam, Munich, and Nuremberg—and we’re open to other suggestions. We want very knowledgable guides in each place and want to stay in the nicest accommodations.  Who should we contact to help us plan such a trip?


—Randy B.


With the 70th Anniversary of D-Day coming up this Friday, there’s a lot of interest right now in European itineraries that encompass the Normandy landing beaches and other WWII sites. Randy, this means you need a Western Europe travel specialist with knowledge of, and access to, the best guides for these sites.

My suggestion is that you reach out to Rudi Steele of Rudi Steele Travel. He’s a particularly well-connected travel agent who was born in Germany (where his older brothers were actually drafted into the Hitler Youth) and raised in Switzerland. World War II is a passion for him. Over the years, he has made private guided WWII itineraries a subspecialty, and he also has close relationships with the general managers of Europe’s finest hotels, and that translates into preferred treatment and extra benefits for you.

Rudi is imaginative with itineraries, so fasten your seatbelt. He may suggest that you start off in London at the Imperial War Museum. It’s currently closed for renovation, but just last week he got some travelers inside it privately with a historian. Rudi can even fly you by helicopter from London to one of the Landing Beaches in Normandy!  As you move through France toward Germany, he might recommend you make time for some of the underground fortresses along the Maginot Line.  As for Germany, the court room in Nuremberg is a must, of course, but Rudi says a highlight for World War II buffs is a visit to Colditz Castle, near Leipzig. The Germans used the Castle as a high-security prison for Allied officers who were considered particularly dangerous and had escaped from other prisoner-of-war camps; many managed to break out of the Castle anyway, and you can tour the escape tunnels.

Randy, over the next few days the beaches of Normandy (like the one pictured above) will be bustling with 70th anniversary activity. By the time of your trip, though, all should be back to normal and peaceful. Have a great trip!

Kings Court, a four-star hotel in Prague

Great Deals at Prague’s Top Hotels (Plus an Extra for WendyPerrin.com Travelers)


Hi Wendy,

I read your post on How to Get Five-Star Service Without Paying Five-Star Prices and Secrets to a Better Hotel Stay.  I’m traveling to Prague, in the Czech Republic, August 10 to 15.  Where’s the best place to stay location-wise?  We booked the Art Deco Imperial but can cancel.




Paul, since you’ve read Secrets to a Better Hotel Stay, you know that one key to getting five-star service without paying five-star prices is to book through a destination specialist who has negotiated a special deal with the hotel that involves both a lower rate and value-added benefits. One such destination specialist is Prague expert Gwen Kozlowski of Exeter International, a firm that specializes in travel to Eastern Europe. “For me, location is everything,” says Gwen, “especially in a city like Prague where taxis can be unscrupulous.” Here are Gwen’s suggestions and the specials she’s offering in August (Paul, you might compare these with what you’ve been offered at the Art Deco Imperial):


4-star picks:

Pachtuv Palace: “The four-star Mamaison Suite Hotel Pachtuv Palace wins for location. It’s in the Old Town, right at the Charles Bridge, and it oozes ambiance, as it’s located in a series of restored Baroque buildings. Some rooms come with Castle views.  Pachtuv Palace offers 15% off their standard rates when guests stay a minimum of two nights or 20% off when they stay a minimum of three nights.  This means a three-night stay in a Deluxe Room with Castle View in August could be as little as $670 including tax (not including breakfast).”


Kings Court:  “This also has a great location. It has more standardized rooms, which means it’s easier to get twins and connecting rooms.  They also have an Executive Lounge (snacks, drinks and private check-in) and a nice pool – a rarity in Prague. It’s a good option for families. Basically, anyone staying three nights or longer receives 15% off our already great rates.  This means that a three-night stay in August in an Executive Room (club access) can be as little as $800, including tax and breakfast as well as Executive Club benefits.”


5-star picks:

Kempinski Hybernska: “This is my top recommendation for those who want a five-star experience that is more boutique and less expensive than the Mandarin Oriental or the Four Seasons. It’s in a beautiful old Baroque building in the Old Town, and most rooms are oversized or suites. We have two promotions running in August: One is a fourth night free in a Grand Deluxe Room or higher.  The other is a guaranteed one-category upgrade at the time of booking. And the two promotions are combinable!  This means you can book a Grand Deluxe Room, get the fourth night free and get upgraded to a Junior Suite.  A four-night booking during August with this promotion would be $1,500 total, including tax and breakfast.”


Mandarin Oriental Prague: “This is the top pick for the Mala Strana area–a neighborhood of twisting and winding streets that makes you feel like you’re in some kind of fairytale, away from most of the backpackers that fill Old Town.  A Mandarin Oriental hotel may seem like a weird choice for a city like Prague, but it’s located in a renovated monastery, and the spa is to die for.  Rooms are spacious and, while they do have a serene Asian aesthetic, there are splashes of color and artwork to tie the hotel into the city atmosphere.  Starting June 1, the Mandarin is offering a fourth night free, even for their least expensive rooms.  This means that a four-night stay in August in a Superior Room would be $1,700, including tax and breakfast.”


Four Seasons Prague: “The crème-de-la-crème of hotels in Prague is offering a third night free in its Renaissance Rooms, which have an historic feel and have all just been renovated in the past couple of years. This means that a three-night stay here can be had for $1,825, including tax and breakfast.”


All rates quoted above are based on two adults sharing a room, and Exeter International travelers receive VIP treatment, which can mean anything from additional upgrades to welcome amenities in the rooms and more. Gwen is also throwing in, just for wendyperrin.com travelers, complimentary private car transportation from the airport to your hotel—”so you can arrive in Prague without having to navigate the unscrupulous taxi situation.”  Thanks, Gwen!


The Mamaison Hotel Pachtuv Palace Prague

The Mamaison Hotel Pachtuv Palace Prague