6 Fascinating Secret Edinburgh Locations
When visiting Edinburgh most people go and see the famous attractions; Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and Calton Hill, but there are more layers to this fascinating city that deserve to be explored. The perfect guide for this is ‘Secret Edinburgh – An Unusual Guide’ by writer and film director Hannah Robinson. We flipped through this brilliant book full of fascinating secrets and picked some of our favourites. Here they are!
1. Magdalen Chapel
- where: 41 Cowgate, EH1 1JR
- open: Mon – Fri, 10am – 4pm
Tucked away at the end of the Cowgate where it opens up to the Grassmarket is a tiny little place you’ll easily walk past without noticing (at least we have!). Magdalen Chapel was built in 1541 and inside you’ll find Scotland’s only remaining medieval stained glass. Look out for a small dark table beneath the window – this is where the headless bodies of executed Scottish Covenanters once rested…
2. Library of Mistakes
- where: 4A Wemyss Place Mews, EH3 6DN
- open: Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm
Make your way to the end of Wemyss Place Mews and you’ll see a sign saying “The Library of Mistakes” on an inauspicious door. Upstair you’ll find a free public library focussed on the world’s business and financial history – a lovely, quiet place to get some reading or studying done even if you’re not interested in economics.
3. White Stuff changing rooms
- where: 89 George Street, EH2 3ES
- open: Mon – Wed & Fri – Sat 9.30am – 6pm, Thu 9.30am – 7pm, Sun 11am – 5pm
Not sure how we could’ve missed this one! We suggest you go shopping in the beautiful White Stuff store right away; grab something to try and head to the first floor and the dressing rooms at the back. What you’ll see is a corridor lined with Narnia-style closets that you can step into. Open the doors and discover some brilliant individually-themed rooms, including an aquarium, kitchen larder, cuddly toy and a space-themed rooms. They’re amazing!
4. Library room at Debenhams
- where: 109 Princes Street, EH2 3AA
- open: check website for up-to-date opening hours
Whilst you’re out shopping you might as well walk over to Debenhams and head to the first floor and through the arch that says “Through to library room & personal shopper” and you’ll soon come across a Victorian fireplace with a marble bust of former Prime Minister William Gladstone behind sparkly dresses and jumpers. Why is there a library in Debenhams you might wonder? Well, the department store is actually spread across two buildings which used to be the Liberal and Conservative clubs, and there’s an interesting story there that you’ll have to read more about in the Secret Edinburgh guide!
5. Wild West Cowboy Street
- where: Springvalley Gardens, EH10 4QG
- open: 24/7 – free admission
Yup, there’s a little corner of the Wild West in Morningside just behind the busy Morningside Road! It was built in 1995 by furniture salesman Michael Faulkner who wanted to create a theme park for his Southern-style wooden furniture – but only four years later IKEA opened its doors and Michael went bankrupt. Since then the alley has been featured in music videos, on album covers and the occasional wedding photo.
6. Airport prayer & quiet room
- where: ground floor, Edinburgh Airport, EH12 9DN
- open: during airport hours
We dash through the airport several times a year and still we didn’t know there is a small room open to everyone for contemplation or prayer. It’s on the ground floor next to the international arrivals area and chances are you’ll find it completely empty if you venture in there. So next time you’re at the airport and need a quiet moment try to find this secret room!