Home Blog Our Six Favourite ‘Proper Pubs’ in Edinburgh

Our Six Favourite ‘Proper Pubs’ in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has over 385 pubs that cater for all tastes and budgets so whether you are looking for a traditional old boozer or a more modern drinking establishment, you’re sure to find it in this beautiful city.

Choosing the right pub in a city you’re unfamiliar with can be tricky. Luckily we’ve done the hard work for you and complied a list of some of our favourites.

The Totally Tailored Local

The Jolly Judge

Where: 7 James Court, 493 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2PB
When: 12:00 – 23:00 Everyday (except Thursday 12:00 – 00:00)

Always known to the Totally Tailored team as ‘The Judge’, this is our local.

A stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, this pub has it all. The décor is traditional with low oak beams, a crackling log fire, a good selection of gins and whiskies, real ales on tap and draught Scottish beers and ciders. It’s cosy and welcoming with good pub food. All this contributing to The Jolly Judge being voted ‘Pub of the Year’ two years in a row. What more could you ask for?

The staff here are friendly and know everything there is to know about whiskies. After all, whisky is Gaelic for ‘water of life’ and is Scotland’s national drink. Come along to sample some whiskies and test your knowledge at their famous Monday night pub quiz.

Tour Guide Tip: You are likely to find a bagpiper in full regalia from Princes Street having a drink here after 9pm.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Choice

The Sheep Heid Inn

Where: 43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh EH15 3QA
When: 12:00 – 23:00 Everyday (except Sunday 12:00 – 22:30

The Sheep Heid Inn is Scotland’s oldest pub dating back to 1360. It is thought that the pub got its name from sheep being reared nearby in Holyrood Park. They were slaughtered before being taken to the Fleshmarket on the Royal Mile. There was no demand for the sheep’s heads (heids), so they were used to make broth and other dishes by nearby residents.

Today it is a beautifully decorated contemporary restaurant and pub located in the villiage of Duddingston on the other side of Arthur’s seat. Expect real ales, great food and an outdoor space to enjoy it all (weather permitting). It even has a 19th century skittles alley where you can have a game while you’re having a drink.

The pub has had a variety of high profile patrons over it’s long history including the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, the poet Robert Burns and even Queen Elizabeth II.

Tour Guide Tip: Treat yourself to a delicious pub lunch here after a hike up Arthur’s Seat.


The Ensign Ewart

Where: 521-523 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2PE
When: 12:00 – 00:00 Sunday – Thursday (1am Friday and Saturday)

The Ensign Ewart is the nearest pub to Edinburgh Castle. It is named after Charles Ewart, who, single-handedly captured the standard of the famous French Invincibles at the Battle of Waterloo.

This cosy pub dates back to 1690 and offers everything a tourist would look for and enjoy. You will find live folk music here most nights, real ales and a wide selection of gins and whiskies (300 variations at any one time!).

They have a small food menu of lighter bites served until 4pm so a great place to stop in after an afternoon visit to Edinburgh Castle.

Tour Guide Tip: Try the Whisky and Cheese pairing board.

The Shopper’s Choice

The Guildford Arms

Where: 1 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH2 2AA
When: 11:00 – 23:00 every day

The Guildford Arms is opposite The Balmoral Hotel tucked behind Princes Street and close to Waverley Train Station. This Victorian bar is something of an institution and is popular with locals and tourists alike.

The pub harks back to an era that time forgot. Ironically built at the height of the temperance movement, think ornate decorated windows, large crystal chandeliers, floor to ceiling wooden décor, table service, a selection of newspapers and smartly dressed staff. It’s been owned by the same family since 1896.

Princes Street nearby has virtually no buildings on the south side, so you can enjoy panoramic views across Princes Street Gardens and the Castle skyline. This is protected by a Parliamentary Order.

Beers and real ales are a speciality with a wide variety of whiskies and traditional pub grub.

Tour Guide Tip: Try the haggis, neeps and tatties with a whisky sauce – it is divine.

The Musician’s Choice

Sandy Bell’s

Where: 25 Forrest Road, Edinburgh EH1 2QH
When: 12:00 – 01:00 Everyday (except Sunday 12.30pm – 00:00).

Sandy Bell’s is something of an institution with a rich musical history. It is a hub for live folk music and is popular with musicians, students, creative types, tourists and locals from all walks of life. Scottish and Celtic folk music is a speciality in this casual and traditional pub.

This pub was once a shop and has been a pub since at least the 1920s. Folk music has been played here since the 1940s.

You can expect a small galley-style bar, a stove fire, real ales and a wide selection of whiskies. Folk music sessions are held every night and some afternoons with accordions, fiddles, flutes, guitars, ukuleles and mandolins being played with abandon.

Tour Guide Tip: This pub is near the Greyfriars Bobby – just don’t rub his nose for luck!

The Storyteller’s Local

The Waverley

Where: 3-6 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TA
When: 13:00 – 00:00 Everyday (except Friday/ Saturday 12:00- 01:00)

Located just a few steps from The Royal Mile, this traditional pub is the perfect spot for a quieter pint in the middle of the tourist hotspots.

Owned by the Walker family since it’s establishment in the 1920s, The Waverley has a rich history of storytelling. Their 1st floor room is often used for storytelling and folk music events.

Pop in for a whisky tasting, excellent beers, ales and a chat with the barstaff.

Tour Guide Tip: The Waverly has a large seating area, which they use to host comedy, jam sessions, and more!

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Do you fancy a private proper pub tour? Email us at requests@totallytailored.com

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