10 secret days out to enjoy in the Capital

If you fancy something a little different then this is for you.

If you fancy something a little different then this is for you.

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If you’re celebrating, or just fancy doing something a little unusual, Edinburgh has a surprising number of unique, luxury and secret experiences to be discovered – from members-only societies to exclusive masterclasses. So give one of these a try . . .

1. Learn how to cook with a Michelin-starred chef

Martin Wishart’s restaurant is well known as a luxury dining destination, but did you know you can also learn how to make his Michelin-starred dishes in the nearby Cook School? As well as individual classes, you can also opt for a gourmet experience which involves a cookery demonstration and masterclass by Martin Wishart, a behind the scenes tour of the restaurant’s kitchen, and a three-course fine dining lunch. Visit: 14 Bonnington Road, EH6 5JD

2. Swim in a rooftop pool

One Spa (part of the Sheraton Edinburgh Hotel) is home to the city’s only outdoor swimming pool – plus, the pool’s unique rooftop location means it has fantastic views. Spend some time relaxing in the hydropool, then make use of the spa’s saunas and thermal suite, or book yourself in for a a relaxing, therapeutic massage. Visit: 8 Conference Square, EH3 8AN

3. Join a whisky club

If you’re a whisky connoisseur and fancy treating yourself to something special, membership to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society will grant you exclusive access to the world’s widest collection of rare and exceptional single cask whiskies. In the SMWS headquarters on Queen Street, the Kaleidoscope Bar is open to the public, but the exclusive lounges on the top floor are for members only and offer plenty of perks. Visit: 28 Queen Street, EH2 1JX

4. Party in a secret herb garden

Full moon parties are more usually associated with exotic beaches and backpacking students, but we have our own version right here in Edinburgh, thanks to the Secret Herb Garden. Their Full Moon Dinners during the summer months offer foodies the chance to tuck into a gourmet meal – cooked by top guest chefs and accompanied by wine pairings – under the light of the full moon in the quirky but calming herb garden. Visit: Old Pentland Road, EH10 7EA

5. Drink in a 1950s-style carnival speakeasy

Edinburgh has quite a few secret speakeasy bars if you know where to look, but one of the most well hidden establishments is Hoot the Redeemer. Themed around an all-American 1950s carnival, you can enjoy cocktail slushies, use a claw machine to choose your DIY cocktail ingredients or try some Señor Scoop alcoholic ice cream. Visit: 7 Hanover Street, EH2 2DL

6. Become a zoo keeper for the day

If you’re an animal lover and want an exclusive opportunity to get up close with the animals, Edinburgh Zoo’s keeper experiences allow you to do just that. Choose from a full day, half day or 30-minute experience, and go behind the scenes at the zoo. You’ll help to feed the animals and get lots of hands-on time with the tamer Edinburgh Zoo residents. Visit: 134b Corstorphine Road, EH12 6TS

7.Tuck into afternoon tea in a historic library

The stunning Georgian setting of The Signet Library makes it the perfect place to enjoy a high-class afternoon tea, complete with a glass of champagne or a seasonal cocktail made with their signature Signet Gin. The luxurious afternoon tea menu includes gourmet bites like salmon and poppy seed eclairs, pear and salted caramel frangipane and – of course – freshly made scones with jam and clotted cream. Visit: Parliament Square, EH1 1RF

8. Become a wine connoisseur

If you want to be able to tell your merlots from your malbecs, sign yourself up for an expert wine tasting course with Lothian Wine School. Learn how to pair wine with food at a tasting evening, take a one-off masterclass focusing on a particular region or style of wine, enroll on the four-week beginner course, or sign up for a more advanced WSET course to gain a sommelier qualification. Visit: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 18 Royal Terrace, EH7 5AQ

9. Sip champagne in a secret rooftop bar

The SkyBar – on the top floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Bread Street – is only open to the public on the first Thursday evening of every month. This exclusive bar offers spectacular views of Edinburgh Castle, and you can sip a sparkling cocktail or glass of champagne as you watch the sun set. Visit: 34 Bread Street, EH3 9AF

10. Master the art of macaron making

Mademoiselle Macaron is a little slice of Paris right here in the centre of Edinburgh, and as well as buying patisserie treats in the cafe, you can also learn how to make macarons with the Mademoiselle herself. Book a private class (for six to ten people) and go behind the scenes in the cafe, get expert tips on how to make the perfect macaron, learn how to make five different flavours and walk away with a stack of new recipes and a box of your very own homemade macarons. Visit: 22 Grindlay Street, EH3 9AP