ICFP 2009 Local Arrangements
Revision as of 15:16, 26 August 2009
1 Interactive Map
An interactive google map showing the venue, recommended restaurants, hotels, good pubs and some other key points of interest can be found here.
The conference venue is the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
We have arranged for hotel accommodation to be reserved through the Edinburgh Convention Bureau. Follow this link for a description of the accommodation and a link to the booking form.
We recommend early booking, since the conference dates overlap with those of the Edinburgh Festival. For those on a tight budget, Edinburgh also has a variety of hostel and bed/breakfast accommodation, but this must be booked privately.
Please note that the bookings in the accommodation system were only reserved until Monday 20 July. Bookings may still be available, but are at the discretion of the individual sites. If you need additional assistance with bookings, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly. It may also be possible to make late bookings through standard online booking systems, e.g. laterooms.com, expedia, lastminute.com
You can find comprehensive information on travel to Edinburgh on the Visit Scotland page Getting to Edinburgh. Some additional specific information is below.
Edinburgh airport (EDI) is the most convenient. A cab to the city centre takes about 20 minutes and costs about £20. Airlink runs a shuttle to Waverley steps that takes 25 minutes and costs £3.50 one-way or £6.00 return. Airport buses run every 15 minutes throughout the day, and pick up/drop off outside Haymarket station, in Shandwick Place (west end), Princes St, and on the bridge to the West of Waverley station (Waverley steps).
From Glasgow airport (GLA), Citylink runs a shuttle to St Andrews Bus Station in Edinburgh city centre that takes about two hours and costs about £11. Citylink also runs a shuttle to Buchanan Street Bus Station in Glasgow city centre that takes 25 minutes and costs £4.20, you can then walk to Glasgow Central Train Station and catch a train to Edinburgh Waverley Station that takes 45 minutes and cost about £10, or catch another bus to Edinburgh bus station.
Budget airlines including EasyJet, RyanAir, Jet2, BMI, GermanWings and Globespan fly from Edinburgh to/from many UK/European destinations, including London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Belfast, Dublin, Shannon, Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Toulouse, Geneva, Milan, Bologna, Turin, Pisa, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Bremen, Cologne, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf (Weeze), Frankfurt (Hahn), Munich, Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, Stockholm and many Eastern European destinations.
Continental Airlines and Delta offer direct flights between Edinburgh and New York, and Globespan and Canadian Affair fly to/from Toronto. Otherwise fly via one of the major European hubs (London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris).
A full list of airlines and destinations can be found here.
Glasgow airport offers a similar range of destinations, and Ryanair also fly to/from the rather less convenient Prestwick airport (about 2.15 hours by train/bus to/from Edinburgh; change in Glasgow - note that if you travel by train, you will need to transfer station from Central to Queen St - there is a shuttle bus).
Edinburgh Waverley Station is the most convenient for downtown, and the terminus for many trains in either direction. Trains to/from the North or Glasgow also stop at Haymarket in the West of the city. Local trains run to some suburbs, and to Fife, but within the city are generally not competitive with the bus in time/cost/frequency. Fast trains to/from Glasgow run every 15 minutes from both main stations. There is no train to/from the airport.
There are (scenic!) railway lines to Pitlochry, Aviemore, Inverness, Fort William (change in Glasgow), Mallaig (for Skye via Fort William, change in Glasgow), Kyle of Lochalsh (for Skye; change in Inverness), Thurso/Wick (for Orkney; change in Inverness). Journey times can be very iong, especially after Inverness. Corrour Halt is the most isolated station in the UK, with no road access (and no houses!!). There is a bunkhouse on the station and a youth hostel! Don't get left behind here!
The national rail enquiry website gives train times and prices, or you can ask at the station. Buy tickets before you travel. For long journeys, booking in advance and fixing train times can be significantly cheaper. It is sometimes also cheaper to buy two single tickets than one return ticket.
4.3 Long-Distance Buses
Express buses from the main bus station operate to many parts of the Highlands, including Glencoe, Fort William, Skye, Inverness, Ullapool. These can be good ways to get into the Scottish Highlands, and are much cheaper than the train, but keep an eye on the bus schedules! Buses also operate to the borders, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth and Fife, as well as many parts of England (but journey times can be high!). Most of the long distance buses are run by National Express. Buses to the borders are run by several companies, including First Group
4.4 Local Transport in Edinburgh
Local buses are mainly run by Lothian Buses (red and white buses), who have an interactive route map. Buses run frequently throughout the day, with restricted routes for night buses between midnight and 4am. Local buses are fixed fare and no change is given. Pay when you board the bus. A single ticket (any journey length) is £1.20. A one-day ticket can be bought on the bus and offers unlimited travel for £3 (not valid on the Airlink buses). A one-week ticket costs £15 and is available from three city centre locations. Most city centre destinations are within 15-30 mins walk.
Taxis are metered, but expensive. Look for black cabs, with amber lights indicating they are available. They will pick up anywhere in the street, except near a taxi rank, where there is a queuing system. A taxi from the airport will cost £20. A taxi from the RCPE venue to Leith Waterfront about £5-7
4.5 Driving in Edinburgh
Note that driving in central Edinburgh is not recommended (Princes St, George St, Shandwick Place and around), because of the tram works that are ongoing at the moment. If you do have to drive watch out for diversion signs (which may change from day to day), and be aware that SatNavs may not know the current state of the road system. Queen Street (the RCPE venue) is, however, easily accessible in both directions, and there is on-street parking (metered) close to the RCPE.
Beware that on-street parking is generally quite limited and can be expensive in the city centre. Edinburgh traffic wardens are notorious, so don't take a chance by not paying (and be sure to display your ticket properly if using a pay and display machine)! Be very wary of resident-only parking or similar restrictions. On-street parking is generally free on Sundays and after 18:30 on other days. If you are staying at a large hotel, they may be able to offer private parking spaces for a fee. It is possible to find free parking about 1-2 miles from the city centre, e.g. in Leith (and then take a bus), or to use one of the Park and Ride facilities on the edge of the city (but the journey time to the city centre is then usually around 30-45 mins by bus).
4.6 Car Hire
There are many car hire companies operating both from the airport and from locations in the city (but mostly a little way out of the centre). The usual cost is about £25-30 per day for a small car. Make sure you have adequate insurance, and check the car thoroughly for any damage before you set off. A small scratch can be very expensive, and may not be covered by the standard insurance! Petrol/diesel is about £1 per litre. Watch out for any mileage limits, and return the car full of fuel to avoid expensive refuelling charges. Driving in the UK is generally not difficult, and most other drivers are well mannered. Remember to drive on the left (especially if travelling in the Highlands, where it isn't always obvious on small roads!), and watch out for the large number of roundabouts (traffic circles), especially in built up areas.
Holiday Autos usually offer good value, by reselling other companies excess capacity, and are worth checking for price comparisons. Full insurance is included: this often undercuts the host company's equivalent offer.
5 Edinburgh Festival
- 14 August—6 September 2009 Edinburgh International Festival
- 7—31 August 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival
- 15—31 August 2009 Edinburgh International Book Festival
If you're interested in a specific concert or event, it's a good idea to book festival tickets early, since they can sell out quickly. You can do this online. Fringe tickets can also be bought online or over the phone. It's worth paying the small booking fee (£0.90), since this avoids a long queue to collect tickets from the Fringe booking office (there is a priority queue for pre-booked tickets).
During the Festival Fringe, the Royal Mile is closed to traffic between North Bridge and George IV. There are two stages and numerous street performers in this area. There will be a spectacular public Fireworks display on 6 September 2009 from 21:00. It will be visible from many parts of the city. You can buy tickets (they go quickly) to sit on the lawn in the park, or for free you can stand in Princes Street (which will be closed to traffic), but arrive early, since there will be many thousands of other revellers, and the police control the access! There will also be a fireworks display from the castle after the Edinburgh Military Tattoo around midnight on Saturday August 29th. This will be visible from the city centre.
6 Extend your visit
Edinburgh Convention Bureau runs a site site to help you extend your visit, if you wish. The Central Scottish Highlands are within easy reach, or travel further to Glencoe, the West Highlands, Loch Ness or the Scottish islands including the Isle of Skye, Islay or the outer Hebrides.
Food in Britain is qualitatively better than even a few years' ago. Edinburgh has many good restaurants in the centre and in main residential areas. Most open until 23:00/00:00. Reservations may be necessary during the festival.
Note that menu prices often increase during the festival, and that many good restaurants offer much cheaper "pre-theatre" menus in the early evening (usually before 19.00/19.30). Pubs will also often offer food at reasonable prices, but menu options can be limited, and quality can vary. Pubs, pizzerias and ethnic (Indian, Chinese) restaurants often offer the best value. Italian restaurants can be relatively expensive and are often uninspiring. For those on a real budget, we have given a few tips! Note that while most restaurants will sell bottled water, tap water is perfectly safe to drink and very pure. Restaurants will supply it free if you ask for it.
If you are travelling into the Highlands or Islands, note that restaurants often close much earlier than in the city (sometimes 20:00 or so in remote parts!), generally don't offer the same range of options, and are usually a little more expensive than a city equivalent (reflecting high transport costs). Again, most pubs will offer some food options.
Since 2007, all Scottish pubs, bars and restaurants are smoke-free. If you would like to smoke, look for pubs with outside seating areas (often with heating). There are several in George St.
7.1 Restaurant Reviews
Tim Day/Julie Odell's guide Useful comments and ratings
The List restaurant guide Comprehensive guide to the capital's restaurants
Ian Sommerville's guide Detailed comments and ratings by a Scottish computer scientist
Ten Top Places to Eat for Under a Tenner from the Guardian.
7.2 Restaurant Map
A google map showing our recommended restaurants and some other key points of interest can be found here.
7.3 Indian subcontinent
Kalpna, 2-3 St Patrick Square, EH8 9EZ, Tel: 0131 667 9890: South Indian wholefood vegetarian, about £15-25
Ann Purna, 45 St Patrick's Square, EH8 9ET, Tel: 0131 662 1807: Similar concept to the Kalpna, slightly cheaper, with different menu options
Mother India's Café, 3-5 Infirmary Street, EH1 1LT, Tel: 0131 524 9801: First rate Indian "tapas". Big tables so good for groups.
Khushi's Diner, 32b West Nicolson St, EH8 9DD, Tel: 0131 667 4871: Punjabi restaurant, good range, with some less usual choices for an Indian restaurant, about £10-20, BYOB (no corkage charge)
The Khukuri, 8 West Maitland Street, Tel: 0131 228 2085: Prize-winning Nepalese restaurant, with some uniquely Nepalese dishes, near Haymarket station, £10-15
7.4 Middle Eastern
Hanam's, 3 Johnston Terrace, Tel: 0131 225 1329: Good quality Kurdish and Middle-Eastern restaurant, near the castle, about £10-15
Muang Thai, 97 Hanover St, EH2 1DJ, Tel: 0131 220 6119: Centrally located Thai restaurant. Good, tasty Thai food, about £15-20
Thai Orchid, 5a Johnston Terrace, Tel: 0131 225 6633: Excellent Thai restaurant making good use of fresh ingredients, no MSG, near the castle £15-25
La P'tite Folie, 61 Frederick St, EH2 1LH, Tel: 0131 225 7983: Consistently highly rated, about £21+wine
La Garrigue, 31 Jeffrey St, EH1 1DH, Tel: 0131 557 30: Very well-regarded Languedoc restaurant, about £30
Ristorante Al Dente, 139 Easter Rd, EH6 8HU, Tel: 0131 652 1932: This out of the way Italian is one of the city's best and above the usual standard. Small, so book ahead. About £15-20
Amore Dogs,104 Hanover Street, EH2 1DR, Tel: 0131 220 5155. Tasty, reasonably priced Italian food in a central location. Fast service. £10-20.
Viva Mexico, 41 Cockburn St, EH1 1BS, Tel: 0131 226 5145: Edinburgh's first Mexican restaurant. Decent meal for under £20.
Mariachi, 7 Victoria Street, EH1, Tel: 0131 623 0077: Voted the best Mexican restaurant in Edinburgh
Pancho Villa's 240 Canongate, EH8 8AB, Tel: 0131 557 4416: Reasonably priced, good portions, centrally located, can be crowded at weekends, otherwise quiet
Iggs, 15-19 Jeffrey St, EH1 1DR, Tel: 0131 557 8184: Authentic Spanish restaurant, with good selection of tapas, paella etc., excellent Spanish wine list, about £15-20+wine
Cafe Andaluz, 77 George Street, EH2 3EE, Tel: 0131 220 9980: Lovely Spanish tiling. Good tapas and paella menu. £12-25.
7.10 Fish Restaurants
There are several good fish restaurants in the Leith Waterfront area. Take a bus or taxi (10-15 minute ride)
Café Royal Oyster Bar, 17a W. Register St, EH2 2AA, Tel: 0131 556 1884: 140 year old seafood restaurant, one of the few in central Edinburgh, about £25
Fishers Bistro, 1 The Shore, Leith, EH6 6QW, Tel: 0131 554 5666: One of Edinburgh's finest fish restaurants
Fishers in the City, 58 Thistle Street, EH2 1EN, Tel: 0131 225 5109: A branch of Fishers in the city centre, generous portions, quiet area at the back
Skippers Bistro, 1a Dock Place, Leith, Tel: 0131 554 1018: Small, intimate and very popular. Book ahead.
The Shore, 3-4 The Shore, EH6 6QW, Tel: 0131 553 5080: Less expensive than Fishers or Skippers, but still good
No. 1 Sushi Bar, 37 Home Street, EH3 9JP, Tel: 0131 229 6880: Good sushi, something of a rarity in Edinburgh. Located in Tollcross
7.11 Scottish Bistro
A Room in the Town, 18 Howe St, Tel: 0131 225 8204: Good cooking, consistently well rated, optional Bring your own wine (£3-4 corkage charge), about £20-25, also has a branch in the West End
7.12 Fine Dining
Hotel du Vin, 11 Bristo Place, EH1 1EZ, Tel: 0131 247 4900: Quality bistro-style dining, £21-30+wine
The Atrium, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED, Tel: 0131 228 8882: "Cutting edge" cuisine with an excellent wine list, £25-40+wine
'The Witchery, The Royal Mile, EH1 2NF, Tel: 0131 225 5613: Unbeatable surroundings and ambiance, around £30-50+ wine
The Tower, Chambers St, EH1 1JF, Tel: 0131 225 3003: gourmet dining In the Museum of Scotland, spectacular views of Edinburgh castle, £30-50+wine
Oloroso, 33 Castle Street, EH2 3DN, Tel: 0131 226 7614: Contemporary cuisine with panoramic views across the New Town and Edinburgh castle
Number One, Balmoral Hotel, Princes St., Tel: 0131 557 6727: Michelin-Starred Restaurant in a large hotel by Waverley staton, around £60+wine
7.13 Seriously Carnivourous
Kublai Khan, 43 Assembly Street, Leith, EH6 7 BQ, Tel: 0131 555 0005: Mongolian barbeque, WILD BOAR, OSTRICH, SHARK, VENISON, SPRINGBOK, KANGAROO, and ZEBRA plus conventional meat/veg! £21-23 for the Mongolian Feast; pre-theatre menu available up to 19:00. Take a bus or taxi from the centre.
The Elephant House, George IV Bridge, EH1 1EN, Tel: 0131-220-5355: J.K. Rowling is said to have written Harry Potter here. Good views from the picture window to the Castle. Evening meals available.
always Sunday, 170 High St, EH1 1QS, Tel: 0131 622 0667: Bright modern non-chain café on the royal mile. Open 08:00-22:00 (09:00-22:00 Sat/Sun). Coffee, smoothies, cakes, and light meals.
Valvona and Crolla Caffè Bar, 19 Elm Row, Leith Walk, EH7 4AA: Café in one of the UK's best Italian Deli's, open in the evening during the Festival
Mamma's Pizza & Panzeroti, 30 Grassmarket, Tel: 0131 225 6464: Excellent non-chain pizza with generous toppings.
Pizza Hut, 34-36 Hanover Street, EH2 2DR: International chain, consistent but basic, about £10-20
Pizza Express, 23 Northbridge, EH1 1SB: Decent chain of pizza restaurants, better options than Pizza Hut, but more expensive, about £20
The Standing Order, 62-66 George St, EH2 2LR: Part of the JD Wetherspoon chain (one of three in the city). Cheap breakfasts and coffee, good value pub food, cheap (and good) beer and free wifi in a large Grade A listed building, main meals from £2.99
The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn St, EH1 1PB: Filling, cheap (£3.50), but tasty baked potatoes, only vegetarian/vegan, very restricted seating (mainly takeaway)
Pie Maker, 38 South Bridge, EH1 1LL: wide range of pies at £1-2, many vegetarian/vegan optons, some window seating
The Tailend Fish & Chip Shop, 14–15 Albert Place, Leith Walk: "The best fish and chips in Edinburgh", about £7 take away, £14 sit-in, 15-20 mins from city centre
McDonalds, 137-138 Princes St, EH2 4BL: Central, large, but can get busy, universally known menu
There are also numerous "fish and chip" shops (traditional British fast food, fried in batter), snack bars/cafes, kebab shops, and street vendors around the city, as well as national/international burger chains and Kentucky Fried Chicken. There are several inexpensive sandwich and takeaway outlets at Waverley station, including a "Pasty" shop.
7.17 Vegetarian and Vegan
Almost all restaurants will have at least one vegetarian option; Indian/Italian/Pizza restaurants are always good choices for vegetarians. Vegan options can be harder (Indian restaurants can be a good choice, but curry sauces and breads may contain milk products, so do ask if in doubt). Most of the following have decent vegan ranges as well as catering to vegetarians.
Kalpna, 2-3 St Patrick Square, EH8 9EZ, Tel: 0131 667 9890: South Indian wholefood vegetarian, good quality food, about £15-25
Ann Purna, 45 St Patrick's Square, EH8 9ET, Tel: 0131 662 1807: Similar to Kalpna, slightly cheaper and preferred by some, with different menu options, about £15-20
Hendersons Salad Bar, 94 Hanover St, EH2 1DR: Vegetarian whole-food cafe, several vegan options; about £8-12
Black Bo's, 57-61 Blackfriar's Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1NB, Tel: 031 557 6136: Quality vegetarian dining, about £30
David Bann, 56-58 St Mary's Street, EH1 1SX, Tel: 0131 556 5888: Very good vegetarian restaurant, about £15-20
L'Artichaut, Eire Place: Due to open in late August, Edinburgh's latest vegetarian restaurant is an offshoot of Jean-Michel Gauffre's La Garrigue restaurant, promising gourmet vegetarian dining with a very slight French twist.
Hanam's, 3 Johnston Terrace, Tel: 013 225 1329: Good quality Kurdish and Middle-Eastern restaurant, several tasty vegetarian options, near the castle, about £10-15
Khushi's Diner, 32b West Nicolson Street, , EH8 9DD, Tel: 0131 667 4871: Good vegetarian range, with some unusual choices, £10-20, BYOB (no corkage charge)
Thai Orchid, 5a Johnston Terrace, Tel: 0131 225 6633: Good range of vegetarian choices for a Thai restaurant
Pie Maker, 38 South Bridge, EH1 1LL: Budget pie/pasty shop. Wide range of pies at £1-2, many vegetarian/vegan, some window seating.
The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn St, EH1 1PB: Filling, cheap (£3.50), but tasty baked potatoes, vegetarian and many vegan fillings, very restricted seating (mainly takeaway)
The Engine Shed, 19 St Leonard's Lane, EH8 9SH: By Arthur's Seat, fresh bakery goods, excellent affordable vegetarian/vegan food, but only open 10.00-15.30 Mon-Sat
Many restaurants will offer to make gluten-free dishes (or adapt menu items), as long as you ask, but choices may be restricted. Usually Indian or vegetarian restaurants (Annpurna, Black Bo's) are good choices - vegetarian places tend to be used to gluten free options. The following are known to offer good options (recommended by someone who is gluten intolerant):
Hendersons Salad Bar, 94 Hanover St, EH2 1DR: Vegetarian whole-food, several vegan options; about £8-12
Several Italian restaurants have gluten-free options now (Giulianos, La Favorita, Vittoria on Leith Walk).
Cafe Andaluz on George Street (Spanish tapas) marks a lot of their items as "GF" for gluten-free.
Blonde and The Outsider also have good gluten-free options.
The Falko Konditormeister bakery, 185 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DG, Tel: 0131 656 0763: often has gluten-free cakes too.
Kushi's Diner, 32b West Nicolson Street, EH8 9DD, Tel: 0131 667 487: Punjabi restaurant, good range, with some unusual choices, fully halal £10-20, BYOB (no corkage charge)
Hanam's, 3 Johnston Terrace, Tel: 013 225 1329: Good quality Kurdish and Middle-Eastern restaurant, several halal options, near the castle, about £10-15
Edinburgh doesn't have a large Jewish community, and we are not aware of any specifically kosher restaurants, but some restaurants (e.g. the Ann Purna) will be able to rise to the challenge, if asked. The organisers may also be able to make personal recommendations.
The Falko Konditormeister bakery, 185 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DG, Tel: 0131 656 0763: makes challah bread, especially for the Jewish community, that can be bought on a Thursday or Friday
7.21 Nut Allergies etc
Most restaurants will be aware of nut allergies; many menus will indicate which items are nut free, and restaurants will often adapt dishes to suit. Some menus will warn that dishes may contain traces of nuts. Other special dietary requirements can normally be discussed with the waiter/chef.
A google map showing our recommended restaurants and some other key points of interest can be found here.
8 Pubs and Bars
Edinburgh has a large number of pubs and bars. Many of them will open late during the Festival (it is allegedly possible to drink 23 hours of the day if you're so inclined!), and many have interesting decoration or historical connections. Pubs will often serve food/snacks as well as drinks. Since 2007, all Scottish pubs, bars and restaurants are smoke-free. If you would like to smoke, look for pubs with outside seating areas (often with heating). There are several in George St.
The interactive map lists a number of recommended pubs and bars.
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