The Oxford Bar

Edinburgh:

This was a real surprise: it was on our list because of its literary connections (being the favourite bar of Ian Rankin and his well known character Inspector John Rebus).

It’s lovely. Positively lovely. It’s a bit of a timewarp, still subdivided up, and the back room we were in had a real fire. No food, no music, no TV, just a quiet, relaxing bar with some superb ale and a lovely quiet bolthole from the city. The staff and locals have a reputation for surliness, but we found them friendly- and we were very obviously tourists.

The West Port Hotel

Linlithgow:

Next door to The Black Bitch Tavern, this is a hotel, but the bar area feels like a pub. It didn’t hit the spot with us, being a modern take on traditional that’s so popular right now; all green paint, stripped wood and blackboards. Staff were fine, as was the beer, but it just didn’t hit home- this wasn’t helped by the noisy kids shouting at one table (from the same family that left their scared, unhappy dog tied to railings outside).

The Four Marys

Linlithgow:

Right in the middle of town, this is a Belhaven pub, and another one claiming to be old. From the website:

The Marys in question are the four ladies-in-waiting of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was born over the road in Linlithgow Palace. Back then, there was no pub here, but the building The Four Marys occupies was already standing as a family home. It means this welcoming family-friendly pub has a tremendous historical atmosphere. With its low ceiling, stone walls, cosy corners and attractive bar, it feels like it’s been here for ever.

There’s been crticism of it lately on Tripadvisor, saying it had gone downhill following a Greene King takeover of Belhaven, but we found it a pleasant pub, with nice staff, a great choice of beer, and a modern pub-food menu (so a little fussy, but OK). Inside it’s traditional pub front, and a restaurant at the back (which we didn’t go to, preferring the bar).

The Bridge Inn

Linlithgow:

Our local for a week. This pub was established in 1665, sitting alongside a bridge over the river Avon on the main road to Linlithgow.

It’s split into two, a bar one side, and a spacious restaurant the other; the bar is traditional (with open fire), the restaurant a little dated perhaps, but beer, wine, and food all fine (one guest ale), and the staff were very friendly. Seemed very popular for food- got crowded on Fri/Sat night.