Beautiful and relaxing pub in Edinburgh's old town
Edinburgh has a problem: It is far too beautiful and hence attracts a terrible amount of tourists, mostly the kind you really try to avoid: arriving by bus, staying for a couple of hours, making gazillions of pictures or waving their videocameras around without any idea what they're looking at, before getting back in their bus and drive to the next piece of eyecandy.
On the other hand, Edinburgh is far too beautiful to ignore, and it would be a shame if that great big pile of package tourists would keep you from visiting it. So, when you've done your museums and galleries and just want to relax and read or chat with your friends or significant other, venture down the Royal Mile and turn left into Cockburn Street. Almost at the end you'll find the Malt Shovel, pleasantly occupied by a nice mixture of Students, locals and the odd smatter of rather sensible tourists. For some weird reason most of them pass this remarkable pub without even glimpsing in.
The bar is a relic from Victorian times with a magnificent center mirror and an impressive array of ca 100 different Single Malt Whiskeys. The beer on tab is equally good: The Malt Shovel is one of the few places I know where you can get Orkney Dark Island on tap, together with Deuchars IPA and a regular list of guest ales. Very few people seem to be having a pint of Stella Artois in their hand, which is one of the indicators of how good this pub's clientele is. Seating is comfy and a bit worn, there's good pub food available, and the only TV is quite small and unobtrusive.
I have spend numerous afternoons and evenings in there and never experienced a fight or obnoxious little englanders (or scots) in there, which, for a UK pub, is quite an achievement.
Five out of five stars on the Heisenberg Pub Scale.
11-15 Cockburn Street
Edinburgh GB, EH1 1BP