Scotland boasts some of the most stylish restaurants, bars and hotels in the UK. Here, Paul Trainer and Ailsa Sheldon reveal their personal top 20 of our best new and long-established venues. 



It’s easy to walk past Divino Enoteca, nestled into a dark corner of tiny Merchant Street though once you’ve discovered this cavern of delights you won’t forget how to find it. With it’s dark walls, exposed brick, walls of wine bottles, leather seating and mood lighting, this restaurant certainly knows how to set the scene – especially on live jazz nights. The heated secret courtyard is lovely too. With classic, sophisticated Italian cooking and an impressively long and interesting wine list (including 32 by the glass), Divino Enoteca is an atmospheric delight. (AS)

5 Merchant Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2QD 


RALPH & FINNS, Glasgow

A stylish and contemporary brasserie and bar on St Vincent Place, the venue underwent a complete refurbishment and rebrand during lockdown. An impressive marble bar is the focal point for the dining room with a separate whisky room and private dining area named The Boardroom, in a nod to the building’s history as the former Scottish headquarters of the Bank of England. Ask for a table in the elegant but relaxed garden room where you can enjoy panko crusted bass or roasted butternut linguine. (PT)

25 St Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2DT 


THE QUAICH BAR Craigellachie, Speyside

A Speyside hotel with modern and traditional stylish nods to the Highlands of Scotland, Craigellachie is a comfortable, rural retreat with an impressive food offering. Guests are quickly distracted by The Quaich Bar, a celebration of whisky equipped with over 800 bottles. It was opened 120 years ago and exemplifies romantic Scotland’s vision for hospitality, seen through a progressive, modern lens. Take a seat in this cosy sitting room built into a bar, and allow staff to guide you through a single malt odyssey. (PT) 


FAIRMONT, St Andrews

Set on a 520-acre estate overlooking St Andrews, Fairmont is known for its dramatic cliff-top views, peaceful setting and championship golf courses. There’s destination dining at its St Andrews Bar & Grill with River Tay cured rainbow trout, Crail crab salad, whole grilled St Andrews Bay lobster and dry-aged steaks cooked on a Josper grill. An extensive refurbishment in 2016 brought a new sense of space to the hotel’s huge atrium, incorporating a 60-metre-long ceiling sculpture by artist George Singer, eclectic furniture styles, and softer furnishings. Upholstery, fabrics and art in the hotel is influenced by local history and landscapes with the fishing villages of Fife providing inspiration and a sense of place. (PT) 



With stained glass windows, nautical ephemera and a giant Björk print, it shouldn’t really work - but somehow it really does. This is Nobles, a lovingly restored familyrun pub where contemporary art meets Victorian glamour – with some of the best food and drink in Edinburgh. It’s stylish and sophisticated, without taking itself too seriously. Enjoy a cracking Bloody Mary with brunch, pop in for a pint, or book a table in the evening to explore the delights of the a la carte menu. Whatever the occasion, Nobles is always a good port of call. (AS)

44a Constitution Street, Leith EH6 6RS


THE MACALLAN ESTATE, Craigellachie, Speyside

THE 485-acre The Macallan Estate is a world-leading hospitality destination set in serene countryside. Alongside the focus on single malt whisky, there is fine dining, fishing, tours and events. The distinctive distillery experience was designed by architects Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners and unveiled in 2018. It features an imposing circular vault warehouse and a dining room where you can enjoy pan-seared Highland venison, west coast scallops and locally-caught salmon. (PT) 



Italian brewer Doppio Malto has transformed a landmark location on Glasgow’s George Square to create its first venue in the UK. The kitchen brewery includes a basement bar with a ceiling installation featuring colourful umbrellas and a 180-seat restaurant, complete with traditional terrazzo flooring and terracotta plant pots. The menu offers a wide selection of Italian dishes including pizza, pastas, speciality meats cooked on the grill, and desserts. Visit for 16 variations of Doppio Malto craft beers from Erba and Iglesias. (PT) 



The calm minimalist interior of Argyle Place has made this family-run coffee shop a firm favourite with Edinburgh aesthetes – think exposed brick, concrete, elegant wooden furniture and plenty of plants. Squint and you could be in Copenhagen, not Marchmont. With Mr Eion roasting coffee in the basement and super-skilled baristas, this is the perfect place to savour a flat white near the Meadows. Stay for the food, too – enjoy generously filled homemade focaccia, tasty tarts and brioche bacon rolls. Grab a seat by the window and savour the friendly atmosphere. (AS) 25-28 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1JJ 



A tea room on a working farm, the rustic setting is revealed within a glass greenhouse with grape vines on the ceiling and interior walls. Your neighbours are 130 dairy cows that provide the milk to make the award-winning Isle of Mull Cheddar and Hebridean Blue. Enjoy homebaking and sourdough bread alongside pork and cheese from the farm. A short drive from Tobermory, the cafe and shop provide scenic views over the Isle of Mull. (PT) 

Sgriob-ruadh Farm, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, PA75 6QD


AURORA, Edinburgh

Inventive tasting menus are the order of the day at Aurora and are “best suited for adventurous palates”. The floor and shelving in Aurora are crafted from reclaimed scaffolding wood, with wine racks made from repurposed bread cages. Simple furniture, industrial-style lighting and bold paintings by Edinburgh-based South African artist Jonathan Freemantle complete the look. This little gem of a restaurant is not in the trendy part of Leith, but definitely deserves a place on the radar of Edinburgh food-lovers. With only 20 covers it can be hard to get a table but for those who do, the culinary journey through the menu and the intimate setting make for a memorable evening. (AS)

187 Great Junction St., Edinburgh, EH6 5LQ


21212, Edinburgh

21212 is a delightful boutique hotel in a leafy Georgian terrace in central Edinburgh. With just four bedrooms above the Michelinstarred restaurant, this is a truly special place to stay. The look is dark, glamorous and decadent without the chintz, and rooms are the epitome of luxury. Dinner is five courses – don’t let the apparent simplicity of the menu fool you. Supremely talented Paul Kitching, right, is at the helm of the elegant restaurant so prepare to be dazzled, and very well taken care of. Make sure you take time to wander in the private gardens by Calton Hill, a special secret spot in the heart of the city. (AS)

3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB 


Elliott’s, Edinburgh

Elliott’s is a proud neighbourhood cafe, where seasonal salads, tasty brunch dishes and delicious home baking are served in an effortlessly chic but relaxed style. Run by food stylist and cookbook writer Jess Elliott Dennison, every detail has been considered and the overall modern rustic feel is stylish and homely. Menus are chalked up and change with the seasons, fruit and vegetables take centre stage with inventive salads and baked dishes, plus plenty of pickles, jams, homemade cordials and ice creams – all of which you can enjoy on the benches outside. There are plenty of lovely groceries, plus beautiful and useful kitchen utensils to take home, too. (AS)

27 Sciennes Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1NX 



What is better than wine and cheese? Well, how about sitting in elegant wine bar Smith & Gertrude in Edinburgh’s popular Stockbridge and enjoying the best of both? Wine flights are the speciality – every two weeks the team formulates two different wine flights, with optional but heartily encouraged cheese pairings. This is a wonderful way to try new and unexpected wines – and hopefully discover some new favourites. With a warm wood interior, perfect people-watching windows and a very warm welcome, Smith & Gertrude is the ideal combination of sophistication and relaxation – whether you’re popping in for a glass of something delicious, or settling in for the evening. (AS)

26 Hamilton Pl, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AU 



The Gothic glamour of the dining room at The Witchery continues across nine luxury suites hidden in a historic tower in Jollie’s Close, just off the Royal Mile. Each is theatrically decorated to fit with a theme, including the dramatic, velvet-draped Sempill room and The Guardroom with rooftop views to Princes Street, a salon-style sitting room, and a four-poster bedroom. The Witchery is one of the most atmospheric places to stay in Scotland, displaying a total commitment to flamboyant style. Each room is bedecked with antiques, luxurious drapes and baronial decor. An immersive experience, when you stay here you will be blissfully unaware that you are in one of the busiest tourist areas of the capital. (PT) 

352 Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NF


STOBO CASTLE, Peebleshire

How many of us in busy working and homeschooling households in these busy months of Covid have dreamed of escaping to a spa? No children or Zoom calls, no distractions and only relaxation on the schedule. At Stobo Castle, your daydreams are a reality. From the beautiful pool overlooking trees and hills to the gorgeous gardens and ornate art-filled drawing rooms, every detail in this stately home-style hotel is designed to calm and restore. Book a massage or wallow in the Jacuzzi and steam rooms. With its multiple spa of the year awards, Stobo is worth saving up for. (AS)

Stobo Castle Health Spa, Stobo, Peeblesshire, EH45 8NY 



The Grandtully Hotel in rural Perthshire is sister hotel to Ballintaggart Farm but has a distinctive style and personality all of its own. The Grandtully has only eight rooms, all individually designed – some with roll-top baths or riverside views, one with a record player – but all equally perfect for a much-needed relaxing break. Downstairs, the elegant bar – The Tully – serves up some of the finest cocktails in Perthshire. Try a perfect Negroni with some Loch Fyne oysters or Great Glen charcuterie. Move into the dining room – all warm wood and flickering candles – and be treated to a delicious seasonal and inventive menu that’s perfect for sharing. (AS)

The Grandtully Hotel, Grandtully, Perthshire, PH9 0PL 



Sea views don’t come better than this. With glass walls overlooking the beautiful West Sands beach (as well as the world-famous Old Course), this is seaside dining at its best. The Seafood Ristorante specialises in the best of Scottish seafood – with an Italian twist. Currently holding the title of Catering in Scotland’s Scottish Restaurant of the Year, this airy, elegant restaurant is becoming an iconic dining destination. Enjoy the panoramic views with delicious garlicky Anstruther lobster, Pittenweem halibut straight off the boat, or perhaps enjoy a crisp glass of Gavi out on the terrace. (AS)

Bruce Embankment, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AB



Hotelier James Thomson’s Prestonfield House in Edinburgh is a riot of elaborately ornamental decoration and rococo antiques. Set in a private park at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, you find yourself minutes away from Edinburgh city centre but transported into another world of Scottish country house splendour. Think four-poster beds so high they require steps, imposing oil paintings, ornate ceiling cornices, rich fabrics and antique furniture. The individuallycharacterful bedrooms are a delight and you will enjoy impeccable service and five-star Scottish hospitality. Prestonfield’s Rhubarb restaurant showcases Scottish produce in gloriously opulent surroundings with monkfish, smoked salmon, Tweeddale Scotch lamb and Angus beef among the homegrown delights on the menu.(PT) 

Priestfield Rd, Edinburgh, EH16 5UT



The Dowans Hotel sits in the heart of Scotland’s malt whisky industry, instilling its impressive bar with a sense of purpose. Set high above the Spey Valley, with views across the village of Aberlour, this magnificent family-owned hotel boasts a collection of over 500 bottles, displayed in a beautifully designed whisky library. It’s one of the most impressive settings for a dram in Scotland and a “must visit” on every whisky aficionado’s bucket list. (PT)


FLY SOUTH, Glasgow

A recent arrival on Lynedoch Street in Glasgow’s west end, Fly South is a wall-to-wall celebration of cocktails featuring bespoke cabinets that house a range of interesting spirits. Six months of refurbishment on the first floor of a period property included restoring the original cornicing, adding a marble top bar, parquet wood flooring, chandeliers and stained glass. Dundee-based Macmerry 300 opened the bar following the debut of its two other stylish properties in Glasgow, The Bull on Great Western Road and The Luchador in the southside. Abandon Ship on Mitchell Street will complete the set in September. (PT) 


Best of Scotland magazine is published monthly in The Herald on Sunday and Sunday National newspapers.