Edinburgh Pubs and Taverns, Traditional Lothian Architecture, Scotland

Historic Pubs and Taverns of Edinburgh

Scottish Hostelry Architecture Article

20 Mar 2019

The most historic and iconic pubs and taverns of Edinburgh

As a city with a long and rich heritage, not to mention a proud history in the art of brewing, it is unsurprising that Edinburgh is a favoured location for those who love a pint or maybe a “wee chaser” in a traditional pub. Here, we take a look at some of the most historic and architecturally significant establishments that have been serving both locals and visitors for generations. Some are world famous, while others are a little off the beaten track.

The Café Royal

With its exuberant and elaborate stonework, you could be forgiven for thinking you have stepped off Princes Street and straight into the Paris of the late 19th century. It’s a perfect example of a real gem that is hidden in plain sight, tucked away on West Register Street to the back of Barclays and the Apple Store. The bar is a great blend of traditional and modern, serving cask ales alongside some contemporary seafood dishes.


The name is modern and so is the service offering, but Belushi’s bar is situated in one of the most historic parts of the city. Located on Market Street, it is midway between the Royal Mile and Waverley Station and occupies the lower floor of St Christopher’s Inns. Make sure you look up, to take in the gothic-style turrets! At Belushi’s nobody stands on ceremony. It is a haven for sports fans, with football, horse racing and other sports showing on a choice of screens. The Inn upstairs is more of a backpacker’s hostel, so there is always someone interesting around to chat with.

Deacon Broadie’s

With its prime spot on Lawnmarket, Broadie’s is one of the city’s best-known taverns. The pub dates back to 1806 and is wonderfully spacious. When you step inside, take a look at its amazing ceiling. It is named after William Broadie, an outwardly respectable businessman who led a sinister double life that involved robbery, gambling and prostitution. Broadie was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The Golf Tavern

This beautiful little hostelry is right opposite Bruntsfield Links, one of the world’s oldest golf clubs, around half a mile south of the Old Town. The pub was established way back in 1456 and has been a popular haunt for amateur golfers for the past 250 years. It is steeped in history, and also has a reputation for top quality food and drink.

The Sheep Heid Inn

On a narrow lane to the east of Holyrood Park lies what is possibly the oldest pub in all of Scotland, with a history dating back to 1360. In medieval times, sheep were reared in the neighbouring park and were slaughtered in the nearby hamlet of Duddingston.

The locals became renowned for their culinary ingenuity with the heads, which were not generally in demand at Edinburgh’s meat markets, and this is how the pub acquired its unusual name. Today, it offers a modern menu, and the only sheep’s head in sight is on the pub sign.

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