Following insider tips is always the best way to travel. Our editor Naomi Larkin gives her account – the highs and (not so many) lows – of walking in the Scottish Highlands in our October issue, on sale now. She outlines the joys of ‘rambling’ from Fort William to Inverness, what you’ll discover along the way and where to rest your head at the end of each walking day. We ask regular traveller, Liezl Gericke, for her tips on where to eat, shop, sleep and hang out in Scotland. As the Johannesburg-based Head of Sales and Marketing, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Liezl knows a thing or two about how to make the most of any trip.
What is your favourite hotel in Edinburgh and/or elsewhere in Scotland?
The Caledonian is a piece of Edinburgh History; it’s truly magnificent after its recent R437 million facelift.
The Hilton in Glasgow, near the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, is perfectly positioned for any first time visitor to the city. It’s walking distance to the town centre and train station.
Where is the best place for a pub meal?
The Black Sparrow – on a recent trip to Glasgow we hosted local South African rock band, The Parlotones and the Black Sparrow served us up everything you would expect from a local Scottish pub, and more.
What is your favourite casual or fine dining restaurant in Edinburgh?
The Hub an iconic Edinburgh landmark, which towers over the city and gloriously dominates the skyline and the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. I recently attended an event at The Hub with traditional Scottish cuisine including haggis. It’s not a traditional restaurant, but a brilliant venue in the heart of Edinburgh.
What is your ‘hidden gem’ in Edinburgh?
In Edinburgh the General Registrar House, at the end of Princess Street, has a magical garden. The open courtyard between the General Registrar House and New Registrar House has been transformed into a unique garden, called the Archivists’ Garden. It’s most definitely a hidden gem.
What should a visitor absolutely not miss seeing/visiting/tasting in Edinburgh?
See/Visit -The Edinburgh Castle as well as walk Princess Street.
Taste – Whisky and shortbread
What is your favourite bar in Scotland and why?
With music so entrenched in the city of Glasgow, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut has to be a place to visit. King Tut’s is famous for the discovery of Oasis as well as the number of world famous bands. People from all around the world frequent this establishment and, whilst it’s completely unassuming from the outside, it’s a very special local hangout.
Your top Scottish tipple?
Whisky of course!
What is your guilty pleasure when in Scotland?
The Bon Accord has an array of whiskies that will delight the tastebuds, with prices to suit any man’s pocket and others that will have you saving for years for just one tot.
What is your must-visit shop or shops in Edinburgh or elsewhere in Scotland?
Any trip to Scotland cannot be complete without visiting a traditional kilt shop. Whether you buy one or just try one on, it’s well worth a visit. The small curio shops are also great to browse and purchase traditional Scottish items such as bagpipes, kilts, shortbread and anything with Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.
What is your top tip when packing?
Smart jeans and a black blazer are essential when travelling, as these two items can see you from day to night. I am also meticulous when packing, I never take any unnecessary excess, as I know there is going to be time to shop and empty space is vital so as to keep within baggage allowance.
What do you always take with you on the plane?
My Kindle, you don’t need much else when Flying Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic!
What is your flying routine i.e. what do you do when you get on the plane etc?
I check in with plenty of time and enjoy dinner in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse before departure. Once on board a nightcap is top of the list at the onboard bar before sleeping on the flat bed. Upon landing the Virgin Atlantics Revivals lounge is the first stop to ready myself for business in the city of London or for onward travel.
Text Naomi Larkin Photographs Liezl Gericke, istockphoto.com and The Bon Accord