The Edinburgh Fringe Festival transforms the city from quiet and
quaint to loud and busy, having sold more than 2 million tickets
across more 50 thousand performances in 2015. One man who knows how
to make the most of Edinburgh during The Fringe is Gareth Drummond,
head concierge at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel.
Gareth, who has worked at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel for
over ten years, was awarded membership to the illustrious Les
Clef's d'Or (Society of Golden Keys) in 2011. The members of this
tight-knit group of concierges are revered for their professional
gravitas, integrity, local knowledge and impeccable
recommendations. Each wears a solid gold cross on their lapel to
signify their membership of this elite group.
Top tips during The Fringe
Gareth Drummond offers his golden tips for getting the best out
of the city during the Fringe Festival:
- Ticket office says the show you want to see is SOLD OUT? It
might not be. Ticket sales offices aren't the only place to buy
tickets. Many people aren't aware that the venues are allocated a
good portion of available tickets, so be sure to ring them to
- Climb every mountain (or hill). Arthur's Seat (251m) or Carlton
Hill (103m) offer spectacular views over Edinburgh, a city granted
UNESCO world heritage status in 1995. Steeped in history, these
hills are a great way to find a whole new perspective of Scotland's
capital and help with getting your bearings to navigate the
- Star gazing. If you are looking to spot a celebrity - head to
The Pleasance Courtyard. The venue, between the Cowgate and the
Parliament, sits in a world of its own, and is considered the heart
of the Fringe. It offers specialised beer and gin bars, great
street food and an enchanting atmosphere.
- Escape the noise. Enjoy a relaxing walk along the Water of
Leith, Edinburgh's river, which offers peace and quiet, and a
chance to spot local wildlife. Alternatively, head to the family
friendly Book Festival in Charlotte Square.
- A royal view from Greyfriars Kirkyard. Unbeknownst to many, one
of the finest views of Edinburgh Castle is from this 16th century
graveyard, home to many a notable character and one of the most
haunted places in Scotland.
- People watch. Sit outside and watch the world go by from
Victoria Terrace, an enclave overlooking the Grass Market with
cafes and restaurants. Sat in the heart of the city, it's a great
place to soak up the atmosphere - and a drink or two.
Gareth Drummond, head concierge at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel,
said: "My overarching advice to visitors to Edinburgh would be to
consult your concierge. We are here to help and make it our
business to know more about the city than anyone else. As well as
heading along to many of the shows myself so I can provide personal
recommendations, my bedtime reading every July is the Fringe
Programme. Whether it is comedy, Shakespeare, music, or a place for
a quiet drink with a view, I'll be here to help.
"The Fringe Festival is central to the character of the city of
Edinburgh and attracts visitors from all over the world. Over the
ten years I've been working at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, we have
welcomed guests from China, Australia and South America who I've
had the distinct pleasure of helping to enjoy the best the city has
Test the Concierge
Gareth and his team at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel invite guests to
test their knowledge of the city at any time. If they can't answer
the question, as well as doing some homework that night, guests win
a token prize such as a postcard.
Here are a few little known facts about Edinburgh from the
concierge team at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel:
- Edinburgh has 1,788 solicitors, 1,091 chartered surveyors,
1,322 chartered accountants, 33,500 university students, and 20,345
car parking spaces.
- Sean Connery grew up in Edinburgh and, as a boy, delivered milk
to Fettes College, where James Bond went to school.
- The word 'caddie' more commonly associated now with golf
originated from the men hired to carry pails of water to tenement
flats in Edinburgh's Old Town.
- In the Old Calton Burial Ground, there is a memorial to the
Scottish soldiers who died in the American Civil War and a statue
of Abraham Lincoln - the first one erected outside the USA.
- The city has more women, 242,020, compared to only 216,894