The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest arts festival, begins on Friday. There are going to be an incredible 2,871 shows by 24,107 performers in 273 venues. So there’s a lot to see and do, but where can you go when you’re not busy at a performance? We’ve compiled a guide to an accessible Edinburgh Fringe. It’s our suggestions of Edinburgh’s most stylish restaurants, bars and activities with a look at how accessible they are too:
The Gardener’s Cottage was the winner of the Good Food Guide Readers Award 2014 for Scotland (don’t ask why they’re voting on 2014 already – we don’t know). Co-owned by chefs Dale Mailley and Edward Murray, they serve fairly simple dishes made of local and seasonal produce. It’s very reasonably priced at only £30 for a set menu dinner.
There’s a steep gravel path up to restaurant but apparently it has been achieved in a wheelchair (with assistance). Sticks could be tricky. Their disabled toilet is only suitable for ambulant disabled people as the building is Grade II Listed and its door frames are too narrow for a full disabled toilet. So the access isn’t brilliant but it’s hard not to recommend a restaurant so good that it’s already been named restaurant of next year.
We gave the Gardener’s Cottage 2 BBS Ticks a few weeks ago.
Cafe Fish is another award winner – picking up Scottish Seafood Restaurant Of The Year in 2012 (which could mean it was voted the best in 2011, this year or, who knows anymore,maybe even in 2014?). They say that “emphasis is on 100% fresh produce, keeping it simple with efficient, but relaxed service.” Lots of delicious seafood recipes.
The access is good – there are no steps into or around the restaurant and they have a disabled toilet with grab bars. They said they follow all the legal requirements when it comes to disabled access which is sadly more than you can say for some restaurants.
We gave Cafe Fish a provisional 2.5 BBS Ticks when we reviewed it previously.
The Kitchin was awarded a Michelin star in 2007, only one year after opening, making the head chef – Tom Kitchin – the youngest ever owner of a coveted star. Since then The Kitchin has won several prestigious awards including Best Scottish and Best UK restaurant . Their mantra is “from nature to plate” – a commitment to fresh food and seasonal ingredients.
There are no steps into the restaurant or anywhere inside. There are cobbles near the front door but the lady we spoke to told us they’ve never been a big problem for visitors (we’ll to see how people find that – she’s obviously never walked in heels or with a stick). There is space to move around inside and some tables are more accessible than others, so let them know if you’re visiting.
They also have a disabled toilet with grab bars! Worth 2.5 BBS Ticks.
Bramble Bar is a very cool and very popular cocktail bar on Queen Street. They have great staff who know their way around a cocktail bar and how to be helpful towards the less able. The bar frequently comes up in most of the lists of best bars in Edinburgh so it’s definitely worth checking out if you can brave the stairs.
For a bar located in a basement, with about 12 steps to get down into it and no lift, we normally wouldn’t go as high as 2 BBS Ticks. But because they said that if you’re in a wheelchair the bar staff will happily carry you down the stairs and sounded very genuine and helpful we gave them the benefit of the doubt.
There are some steps inside, to certain areas of the bar, but it’s mostly accessible for wheelchair users. Also they do have an accessible toilet with a hand rail on the wall – so looks like getting in is the only issue! We recommend Bramble Bar with a slight amount of caution due to the stairs.
Roseleaf is a cosy bar which is family run and friendly. The food is really good but the highlight is probably their quirky ‘Pot-Tails’ – cocktails served in tea pots. It’s a really jovial and fun spot to have a drink – perhaps a good idea for a pre-show drink or dinner.
The disabled access is very good – there are no steps anywhere and flat access from street level. Inside there is a fully equipped disabled toilet with hand rails and everything else you’d expect. We give them a provisional 2.5 BBS Ticks.
A trip to the bar at the Hotel Missoni is a really cool and funky upmarket experience. The decor is bright, shiny and ultra fashionable. It’s very stylish and great fun, if a little on the pricey side. There’s also a good chance of running into one of the celebrities who go there – maybe some of the more high profile Fringe performers may be able to afford going here? It’s in a great location on the Royal Mile and they have good disabled access with a wheelchair accessible toilet. We gave the whole hotel a maximum 3 BBS Ticks during last year’s festival.
If you fancy doing something a bit more touristy during the day then a trip Edinburgh Castle makes for a fantastic day out. Overlooking the rest of the city, the castle has stunning views of Edinburgh. Highlights inside include the National War Museum, the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny.
The castle was obviously not originally built with an eye on disabled access (it was built a rather long time before the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act) but these days they’ve done a good job of making it as accessible as possible. A mini bus can come to pick less able people up and take them up the hill to the castle. The staff are really good at putting ramps down in the right places and escorting less able visitors to lifts when necessary. They also have well equipped disabled toilets. All this can be expected even if you just turn up on the day without booking in advance. A deserved 3 BBS Ticks.
Enjoy the Fringe if you’re going and if you go to any of these suggestions or anywhere particularly stylish and/or accessible please get in touch!
Just a quick note to say that suggesting a basement bar is accessible because the staff are prepared to carry you down the steps is really unhelpful. My mother is a wheelchair user, and there is no way that staff would be able to carry her down the stairs. Not only would it be uncomfortable for her and difficult for them, it would put them both at risk. Totally understand the desire to help as many people access cool venues as possible, but let’s try and be realistic – this is not accessible!
We totally understand but we are merely showing how you get into a place. What’s accessible for one person may not be for another. We very much look for stylish venues first and then look at accessibility