Edinburgh Recommends: Best gift shops

Lava on Cockburn Street. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Lava on Cockburn Street. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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No-one knows a city better than the people who live and work in it. That’s the best coffee shops, the best bars, the best independent stores and the best places for brunch.

Guide books are useful for visitors, but for locals it is word of mouth that gives the latest and most reliable information. As part of Edinburgh Recommends, the News is asking you to recommend your favourite places in the city centre.

We will publish the best with the top recommendation winning dinner for two, or tickets to a show or attraction, or £40 of shopping vouchers. Each week, in association with This Is Edinburgh – the campaign that highlights the huge amount on offer in Edinburgh city centre – we will choose a category and ask for your suggestions.

It’s time to remind ourselves just how great our city centre can be. So get recommending!

Explore Ali’s cave

Adnan Ulhaq: “It has to be Ali’s Cave on Lothian Road – gifts such as glittered butterflies, cake-making accessories, tools, party gifts and a large selection of wrapping paper, gift cards and ribbon.”


Kim O’Donnell: “Time and Tide, Morningside, lovely selection of gifts and reasonable prices too.”


Jane Lock: “I’d like to recommend Caoba, Raeburn Place. www.caoba.co.uk. OK, I admit I work there part-time but that doesn’t detract from it being a brilliant shop. Much of the product is imported directly from Mexico – the next container is due in any day now – and much of the stock is Fair Trade.”

Oliver’s army

Susan McKenzie: “Has to be Oliver Bonas, Hanover Street, for its range of pure loveliness and originality from home finds to jewellery and more.”

Worth a meander

Mairi Bee: “I’d highly recommend Meander next to the Churchill Theatre on Morningside Road. Number one would be The Hopetoun Garden Centre out at South Queensferry – it has some of the best stuff in the region.”


Martin Owens: “Maplin Dalry. It’s got loads of gizmos and helpful staff.”


Debbie Young: “I love the weird and wonderful things you can get in Hawkins Bazaar in the St James Centre.

In love with cove

Leigh O’Neill: “Has to be Cove in Portobello. They have something for everybody of all ages from cute retro toys to beautiful jewellery . . . love it.”

You’ll dig digger

Lesley Paton: “Digger on West Nicolson Street is totally unique, eccentric, weird and wonderful. The gifts and cards are beautiful and fantastic, cute, arty something for everyone –I always manage to find a special gift or card here.”

State of flux

Rachel Barrie: “Flux in Leith. Always a unique, and Scottish, gift or two to be had. Their card selection is also great – I love their Leith-specific ones.”

Water way to go

Emma Bannerman: “Helios Fountain in the Grassmarket. I used to love that place when i was a kid and still love it now.”


GJ Beckett: “Cranachan and Crowdie, High Street. Wonderful Original Scottish Artisan gifts . . . Don’t get me started!”


Beth Thomas: “The Museum of Childhood has a small shop but some really lovely things in it – things for children and things for the grown-ups to remember when they were children.”


Eileen McGee: “The Cat’s Miaou in Elm Row is just fantastic, the most amazing treasure trove of things you didn’t know you needed and makes gift-giving so easy, with prices ranging from one pound to hundreds!”


Laura-Ann Macdougall: “By far the most unique shop in town is the amazing Studio One, down Stafford Street. Always lots of exciting ideas for all rooms of the house. It truly is an inspiration emporium!”


Joanne Wood: “Concrete Wardrobe on Broughton Street. Whenever I need a special one-off gift, I head there and never leave empty- handed. Friends bought my house warming gift there and recently I bought a friend’s wedding present there. It’s a delight.”


Healthy Edinburgh: “I love the museum shops – and the shop at the Botanic Gardens. But really there are so many great independent shops to choose from all around Edinburgh – Broughton Street, Stockbridge, Bruntsfield, Morningside . . . The Red Door Gallery on Victoria Street has some cool prints.”


Lorraine Paton: “Cloud 9 in Easter Road. Florist which also has original and quaint gifts for all ocassions, from birthdays to christenings.”

Flow of ideas

Beth Thomas: “One of my favourites is Lava down Cockburn Street, I just find it has different stuff. quirky. retro and gives me an excuse to act like a child again with the likes of Hong Kong Phooey or Dangermouse bags or my Wonder Woman flask. love it.”