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Comfy, Cosy, & Creative: 6 Great Places to Read in Edinburgh

Our bookseller Sarah (@strikesofluck) gives us her guide to the best cosy, creative spots Edinburgh spots to snuggle up with a book...

The cafe scene in Edinburgh is one that begs the question: where are the best cafes for voracious readers to consume their favourites and their discoveries?

We obviously prefer ones within a ten to fifteen minute walk from Golden Hare because when you inevitably finish your current read, you have to come back for another!

With that, we present our picks for the “Comfy, Cosy, and Creative: 6 Great Places to Observe, and, Of Course, Read,” Golden Hare style:

“The reinvention of the wine bar gallops apace across the city, but S&G are still the daddy. Brilliant curation, brilliant concept, it’s a voyage of wine based discovery.”
— Eating and Drinking Guide 2018, The List

Lovecrumbs Stockbridge

Who doesn’t love Lovecrumbs? With their colourful cake presence right down the street, we can’t resist a cuppa and cake at the perfect reading spot right on St. Stephen Street. When you enter, book in hand, the lovely cakes beckon immediately. Once you’ve made your choice, you can either select the window seat for optimal people-watching, although I’m personally partial to the leafy, lovable corner in the back, past all of the wonderful Lovecrumbs and local merchandise on display (definitely worth a browse). A perfect space to take that ultimate flat lay photo with your sweet book and sweet treats!

Smith & Gertrude

Did you know this haven of wine, cheese, and chocolate-covered honeycomb also serves coffee and tea? Between the Fortitude on French press and the pots of tea by Anteaques, those window seats at the front and cosy couches in the back are looking more and more appetising. This also means that for those ideal book and wine nights, Smith & Gertrude is your go-to. When it’s nice and warm outside (in the summer, maybe?), enjoy the outdoor seating for optimal Stockbridge observation. I always love asking for recommendations – the staff are incredibly knowledgeable, and you can’t go wrong with a fascinating book and an informed wine choice after a hectic work week. 

Golden Hare is also very proud to be a part of Smith & Gertrude’s Wine & Cheese Book Club, which has to be the perfect trinity for many literature enthusiasts!

Fortuna Coffee Bar

A newbie to the Edinburgh cafe scene, it’s quickly become a favourite for Machina Espresso mochas and those gorgeous toasts. I’m also a window seat fan, if you didn’t already know from the previous two recommendations, and the window booths at Fortuna are fortunately (get it?) the perfect balance of cute and cosy. Nestled at the end of Queen Street a quick walk from Golden Hare, this cafe is a great place for both coworkers and creatives alike to enjoy a modern space with a quality menu, perfect for those hungry reading times. As a card carrying millennial, I can’t say no to the avocado toast, playing right into my millennial status, but I can’t wait to try the Brie and blackberry toast soon. 

Leo’s Beanery

Travel plan from Golden Hare to Leo’s: wander down St. Stephen Street, onto the classically Instagrammable Circus Lane, photograph your book for posterity, and walk up the hill a little ways to Leo’s. Famous for their brownies (unparalleled, in my opinion) and their welcoming atmosphere, they even have an adorable library shelf that is a must-see. Another comforting place to enjoy a meal while diving into your favourite book, I’m partial to the Croque-mon-scon (don’t ask, just try it!). My favourite seat has to be the window booth, especially since Leo’s is one of the “underground” Edinburgh cafes – perfect for fabulous shoe and cute paw watching.

Cuckoo’s Bakery

If you’re in the mood for a beautiful cupcake, Cuckoo’s is your bakery. From cute seasonal creations to more common cupcake classics, my favourite part about Cuckoo’s is the fun surprise in the centre of the cupcake. I sampled one of the gingerbread holiday ones this year, and I still think about it fondly to this day. This cafe is adorably decorated and offers a wide variety on the menu as well. For fans of light, airy spaces with fairy lights, this would be my recommendation. Even better – take a few cupcakes (or even a box) and enjoy reading on one of Circus Lane’s gorgeous benches. You might even make some new friends if you have a few cupcakes spare!

Bearded Barista

Sunday comes with a mixture of feelings, like what you actually did over the weekend and how you want to spend your last day before Monday morning looms. I’m such a fan of the Stockbridge Market and especially my Sunday latte from The Bearded Barista. While not a cafe in the conventional sense (like the four walls sense), you can get a takeaway drink for your Dean Village wander and find a cosy corner to reflect and sip with your book. If you want to stay closer to home at the market and marvel at the masses of people, pick a table at the market for your enjoyment. Either option comes with a tasty coffee or hot chocolate.

By no means is this an extensive list of Edinburgh coffee shops/cafes/hot drink experiences. These are just a few to consider within walking distance of Golden Hare, handpicked by yours truly. I’m an Edinburgh coffee enthusiast for sure, so there are many more I would include if this was a comprehensive list. I hope these places whet your appetite not only for the great ambience, but also for the creative reading adventures.

Feel free to come into the store for more recommendations on Edinburgh life. Please share your comfy, cosy, and creative reading nooks with us too!
Instagram: @goldenharebooks