From the brilliant baba ganoush to the heavenly harissa, tucking into a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern cuisine, I could easily be enjoying an al fresco banquet in the Lebanese heat.
Yet, this feast of the senses has actually been whipped up a lot closer to home, in Edinburgh.
The table of culinary genius in front of us is at Baba, one of the hottest new eateries on the city’s George Street.
The secret is mix and match. In essence, order loads of dishes and share. From the chuck-eye steak and chimichurri to chargrilled broccoli and cauliflower fritters, every sample has us coming back for more.
The meal comes at the end of a hard day, pounding the streets of Edinburgh as we shopped till we dropped, ate till we burst and drank till we fell into bed – the perfect ingredients for any holiday.
Our base is Baba’s adjoining hotel, the Kimpton Charlotte Square, and, if a self-care break is on the agenda, this hotel is exactly where you need to be.
Perched on the edge of a picturesque private garden in New Town, it’s as central as you can get. But while the buzz of the city lies just outside, the faint rumble of traffic from the street is all you can hear inside this gorgeous Georgian townhouse while you relax and let your worries gently melt away.
The old chest suitcases stacked at the entrance against contemporary grey panelled walls set the tone for what can only be described as a stunning space.
The hotel mixes retro with modern in a luxurious style. From the library and map room with their vibrant blue walls littered with red and yellow velvet chairs to the airy garden room bar.
Where the old wooden doors dotted around lead, nobody knows, but all fingers point to a calm oasis hidden away in the midst of a rush hour storm.
Our room, with a bed big enough for a family of four framed with perfectly plumped up pillows and a view of George Street below, is nothing short of perfect. Opulent, yet with all the home comforts you could possibly need.
But after a quick sit down and a very welcome complimentary Negroni to start off our celebratory trip for the hubby’s big 40th birthday, it’s time to tear ourselves away from the tranquility and explore.
Edinburgh is a sightseeing mecca and the best bit is that most of the sights are right on the Kimpton’s doorstep.
From steeping yourself in history at Edinburgh Castle or a gentle stroll round the Princes Street Gardens, you’ll have no trouble finding things to do.
We opted for a spot of shopping, and when it comes to restocking your wardrobe, Edinburgh has something for all tastes and budgets.
While Princes Street has all the high street stores you could ask for, including a cheap and cheerful Primark spread out over five floors which proved a firm favourite for me, George Street is filled with designer boutiques if you have a bit more cash to splash.
Of course, the best shopping expeditions are interspersed with cocktails and nibbles and we find plenty of opportunities to refuel along the way.
Many of the bars and cafes on George Street have outdoor seating, and you could be forgiven for feeling like you’ve been transported to the Med.
Arms laden with bags, we head back to the hotel’s serene spa for a well-earned massage.
Relaxing in the mood-lit basement pool certainly isn’t a chore. And a massage, well, it’s the best thing to have happened to me all year!
I opt for the new La Rue Verte CBD body massage, which harnesses the therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol derived products in conjunction with healing techniques.
And I have to say, it’s the most relaxed I have felt in a long time. I can feel the stresses and strains of the crazy Covid months melting away and the tension being massaged from every single part of my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.
This year, what we all need is a little bit of TLC. And this trip proves it can come from a staycation as much as a two week break in the sun. Treat yourself to a little self care this summer. I promise, even if you’re just an hour from home, you’ll feel a million miles away!
You don’t need to tread Edinburgh’s cobbled streets to see it in its full glory. Instead why not do it over dinner or a cocktail at one of the city’s rooftop terraces? Chaophraya is one of our faves.
Double room rates at Kimpton Charlotte Square start at £229. To book, visit kimptoncharlottesquare.com
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe