On the south shores of the Forth of Firth lies Edinburgh, the small but beautiful Scottish capital. Its striking architecture reveals an interesting historical past, with two distinct areas – the Old Town and the New Town – defined by medieval and Georgian styles respectively.
Although shipbuilding, engineering, brewing, printing and publishing took place between the 18th and 20th centuries, Edinburgh’s economy has never relied on the manufacturing industry for growth. For 300 years Edinburgh has been a centre of banking, since the Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695. Today, the corporation is known as part of the Lloyds Banking Group who has retained their Scottish headquarters in the city.
Moreover, Edinburgh’s geographical size belies its significance as the second largest financial centre in the UK, and the fourth largest in Europe. Among others, RBS, Tesco Bank and Virgin Money all have headquarters in the city. Other important business sectors are the European insurance division, largely formed by Scottish Widows and Standard Life, and high tech research and development, to which the four main universities are major contributors.
Traditionally, the focus of business has been in the New Town and central areas; however, recent years have seen an expansion to the west of the city centre. The Edinburgh Park Business Park in South Gyle is home to a large number of recognisable companies, such as Aegon UK, Lloyds Banking Group, JP Morgan, Fujitsu, HSBC and BT.
Edinburgh has a fantastic array of cultural attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland and St Giles’ Cathedral. The city is famed for its annual festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe and the New Year Hogmanay, which sees thousands of tourists and locals take to the streets in celebration.
Perhaps one of the most stunning attributes of Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat –one of seven hills that form Holyrood Park and tower over the city. Extensive views of Edinburgh and the North Sea can be enjoyed from its peak.
Travel from Edinburgh Airport into the city centre takes around 25 minutes by car, which demonstrates its compact size. Access can also be found via the Airlink 100 express bus service which runs to Waverley Bridge. The city's two main train stations, Edinburgh Waverley railway station and Haymarket railway station, connect the city to regional and national locations including London, which takes approximately 5 hours to reach.
Those who favour taxis should note that there is a distinct lack of them in the city, but buses are widely available throughout and a tramway system is currently under construction.
The beautifully preserved medieval Old Town is a network of narrow alleyways and cobbled streets. Its rich history is embodied in Edinburgh Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral, the Palace of Holyrood House and, below the surface, a hidden world of underground vaults and chambers. In August, the Old Town really comes alive during the Festival Fringe and International Festival. A serviced apartment in Old Town would suit someone with a keen eye for history.
Edinburgh’s New Town is an area of Georgian elegance. Its broad streets and grand buildings give a taste of the lifestyles of the 18th century upper classes as they migrated from the Old Town. Today, the New Town contains Edinburgh’s main shopping streets, such as Princes Street and Queen Street. Waverley railway station is at the end of Princes Street and there are excellent bus links to areas across the city. A New Town serviced apartment is the perfect location for the commuter who likes to shop.
Outside the city centre, Haymarket is well known for having Edinburgh’s second largest railway station with links to much of the rest of Scotland. Within close proximity are many of the city’s main attractions including the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield Stadium. Haymarket also has easy access to the M8 and M9 motorways, and is a short drive from Edinburgh International Airport. A serviced apartment in Haymarket would be perfect for someone who needs access to the city centre and beyond.
Leith, situated at the mouth of the Water of Leith, has been the site of Edinburgh’s port for hundreds of years. The original harbour dates back to the 14th century and was visited by many travelling kings and queens. Today, Leith is host to a number of lively eating and drinking spots, its own shopping centre and the floating museum, the Royal Yacht Britannia. A Leith serviced apartment is ideal for anyone who enjoys the outdoors but needs to travel to the city centre regularly.