Duty Free Shopping, wining and dining in style before you jet off at Edinburgh Airport
Spending a few hours at an Airport these days is no longer all about waiting in a Departure lounge for your flight to be called. Today, having the time to browse the boutiques and enjoy a relaxing drink or meal can be a wonderful leisurely experience.
Edinburgh Airport has developed dramatically over the years – and it’s not just about the arrival of the new Trams transporting passengers to and from the city centre to the Terminal.
I recently had the opportunity to spend half a day Air-Side (without a Boarding pass to fly off anywhere); it’s like wandering around a small town with many famous High Street shops and fine choice of bars and bistros to while away your time.
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s busiest with more than 40 airlines serving 100 destinations serving nearly 10 million passengers a year, with around 1 million passengers a month in peak seasons.
Of course, the absolute beauty of Airport shopping is the World Duty Free store and here is an extensive display of beautiful Beauty products, perfumes, fragrances, aftershave, spirits, wines and chocolates as well as luxury bags, jewellery and fashion accessories. We all want to treat ourselves before jetting off on a well earned holiday.
Some fascinating facts and figures about World Duty Free shopping: A bottle of Chanel 5 is sold every five minutes, five bottles of whisky every minute, and a lipstick every 30 seconds. We girls love our lippy!
Here you have all the top international brand names – Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, Dior – it’s all here in one store whether you want to purchase a Seiko Watch or Glenfiddich Scotch. I was extremely impressed by the World of Whiskies (there are 12 across UK Airports), selling whiskies from Scotland, Ireland, India, USA and Japan. The enticing news is that there are 90 Travel Retail Exclusive whiskies only sold in WoW so you can pick up something very special as a gift or your own personal tipple for your trip.
Single malts, rare vintages and select casks, a smoky Laphroig from Islay and an exclusive Talisker Dark Storm. Mackinlay Shackleton Rare Highland whisky was re-created to match the original Scotch found in Antarctica, a preserved remnant of the 1907 Expedition.
Whisky tastings are also offered by Matt Cross, WoW specialist, to help you decide what to buy and learn about various different single malts, grains, new blends and brands.
I sampled a dram of Haig Club, the exciting new David Beckham-branded Whisky – you may have seen the James Bond-style advert filmed in the Highlands of Scotland.
Haig Club may look like a macho drink but will suit ladies too – the taste and texture is smooth, mellow and light with a distinctive ginger-spice-sweet flavour. Bottles of Haig Club were flying off the shelves and into shopping baskets all around me!
Beyond WDF, glam Mac and Jo Malone counters for gorgeous makeup, and round the corner, Accessorise, Boss, Dixons, Boots, WH Smith for cameras, gadgets, books and bags. And do visit the Designer Sunglass shop – Gucci, Prada, Ray Ban and even Tiffany- Holly Golightly – shades. How divine!.
All this retail therapy made me rather thirsty so a pit stop for a glass of wine at The Sir Walter Scott bar, run by JD Wetherspoon. At around 12 noon it was packed out with passengers having lunch before their flight.
Open (and licenced) from 3.30am, it’s open all day closing after the last departure. Hearty pub food from breakfast bacon and eggs, to sandwiches, pasta, burgers, fish and chips et al.. Children’s menu too and great value prices for good food, beers, wines and spirits.
In order to experience a few bars and brasseries, I began to graze around the airport. Yo Sushi is a popular and fun way to eat. I sat on a stool as the colourful plates of healthy Japanese tidbits pirouetted their way around the conveyer belt. I tasted Salmon dragon roll and Tuna Tataki & Ponzu – delicious yellow fin sashimi. This is upmarket, stylish fast food – perfect when you are watching the departure board!
And then I walked over to Thermidor’s for a gourmet lunch. This is an island bar with high stools where you can enjoy a platter of Scottish seafood and caviar with chilled champagne. Jonathan Mitchell, the manager, told me that many business class travellers will take a detour from their airline VIP lounge to come here for a glass of fizz and bite to eat before their flight.
The House champagne is Besserat De Bellefon: I sipped a small glass each of Grand Tradition Brut, Des Moines Rose, and Blanc de Blanc NV. Ice-cold, crisp and sparkling which hit the spot. With this, I tucked into a superb selection of fishy canapés -peat smoked salmon, mussels, scallops. sea trout. Fish and Fizz complement each so wonderfully.
A couple sitting nearby were sharing a bottle of Moet, raising their glasses to toasting the start of their holiday – this is such a romantic place to sit for a delicious meal, away from the hustle and bustle of the airport crowds.
Thermidors is part of a collection of other airport eateries – The Gathering (with fabulous views of the runway), a Deli and café and The Fringe Bar each offering a selection of fine food and drink for all tastes and budget.
And this is an innovative idea – browse the artwork on display in the Airport Gallery. Changing exhibitions of reasonable prints, paintings and jewellery. Purchases are delivered free to an address in or around Edinburgh, and despatched by mail or courier worldwide.
And one final fact about World Duty Free shopping: the mountain of Toblerones stocked in store could cover six football fields.!
More direct routes are launching every year at Edinburgh Airport, including most recently new worldwide destinations with Qatar, United, US Airways and SAS and Eithad. Wherever you may be flying off to, enjoy a relaxing time at the Airport.