Edinburgh ‘world’s smelliest city’ says Thrillist

Edinburgh has been branded the smelliest city in the world. Picture: Greg Macvean
Edinburgh has been branded the smelliest city in the world. Picture: Greg Macvean
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CLAIMS Edinburgh is “the world’s smelliest city” have been pooh-poohed.

The decision of New York-based website Thrillist to place Auld Reekie and the scent of its breweries ahead of other notoriously malodorous cities such as Venice, Los Angeles, Bangkok and the New Zealand city of Rotorua – which translates as “sulphur city” – has kicked up a stink with city officials and tourism bosses..

A VisitScotland spokesman said: “This claim doesn’t make any sense to us. Edinburgh’s distinctive smell has long been loved by locals and visitors alike.

“Indeed with the closing of the major breweries, it is sorely missed by many. In most visitor surveys, Edinburgh regularly comes up smelling of roses, and having just won a gold award in the Britain in Bloom competition, there is definitely a decidedly sweet aroma around our stunning capital city.”

Council leader Andrew Burns was quick to defend the city. He said: “Living less than a mile away from Fountainbridge, I’m more than qualified to discuss the smell of breweries and can think of few finer aromas than the sweet, malty smell of ­brewing.”

The US travel website, which has 160,000 “likes” on Facebook points a pongy finger of blame at our beer brewing


The article which has made critics smell a rat states: “Edinburgh’s breweries and distilleries have been causing such a stink, you will still detect the city’s smell when the wind blows just right.”

The claims have failed to cause a stink with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which says very few odour complaints are now registered by residents.

A spokesman said they “regulate” the city’s breweries “to ensure odour emissions are adequately controlled”.

Alex Musgrave, business manager at Penhaligon’s perfumery in George Street, believes Auld Reekie’s reek should be applauded not criticised.

He said: “I’ve lived in Edinburgh for 27 years and have written extensively on the evocative smells and fragrances of the city.

“Edinburgh is a city where the smell of hops mingles with the odour of leaves and greenery coming from Princes Street Gardens, along with the smoke and stone of the city, the smell of which changes depending on the weather. It’s distinctive and something to celebrate, not criticise.

“I have travelled all over the world and Edinburgh’s smell does not come close to the stench in other cities. I used to live in Lagos – Lagos is bad. New York smells terrible in the summer, and I’m sorry to say that Birmingham also smells really awful.”

The Thrillist article does still attempt to encourage tourists to visit, saying: “...if you can get past the odour there are plenty of things to see and do, beyond the off-putting olfactory ambience”. It adds: “Since you’re near a distillery already, you might as well try some local whisky. A few sips and you’ll forget all about the scent in the air. Not a drinker? Well, then, go climb a volcano.”