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BLOG: Edinburgh’s Best Team Building Experiences 09th July 2018

Team-building experiences are well known for delivering a wealth of workplace benefits; enhancing collaboration and communication to name but a few. And with the warmer weather now upon us, what better way to boost team morale than a venture out of an over-heating office? For those looking for an exercise more memorable than the cliché company picnic, we have rounded up the most out-of-the-box team building ideas Edinburgh has to offer:

 ‘Blend Your Own’ with The Scotch Whisky Experience

This one-of-a-kind experience begins with a guided tour of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky and is followed by a sampling session. Participants then put their new found Whisky wisdom towards blending a personal 100ml bottle, with the guidance of a whisky expert. This creative take on team-building is perfectly suited for teams who need to work together more, offering a fun way of promoting office interaction. This is also an activity that can be enjoyed irrespective of how questionable a ‘summer’s’ day Edinburgh is experiencing. Tour, Tutored Tasting and Blending (10+guests):   £56 per person

‘It’s a Knockout’ at Hopetoun House

Hopetoun House’s take on the iconic TV game show is guaranteed to put even the slickest working team to the test. After all, what situation would challenge your team’s cooperation skills better than a tug of war, followed by a race over an inflatable-slip-in-slide all completed in a penguin costume? Hopetoun offers a fully tailored experience so whether you wish your day of outdoor activities to include a survival course, treasure hunt or archery, you can guarantee your team-building requirements will be fulfilled. Price upon request, get in touch with the team. 

Animal Handling at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo offers the opportunity for your team to get up close and personal with some fluffy and some not so furry friends. In this session, your team’s ability to stay calm and collected under pressure will be challenged as you handle a selection of small invertebrates and animals. No to-do list will ever appear as daunting after this experience, though it’s a guaranteed winner with lovers of small creatures.

Laser Tag at Winton Castle

When better to hone your team’s leadership and collaboration skills than whilst pacing around vast woodland on a mission to stop an imminent zombie apocalypse? In a game of Laser Tag at Winton Castle, team members will be fully kitted out with flack jackets and authentic infra-red weaponry before being thrown into a scenario that can only be best compared to a real-life video game. Choose from a range of different game scenarios including domination, capture the flag and zombies. This fast-paced activity is destined to ensure your team’s ability to think on their feet but we can’t promise things won’t get competitive. Email the team at Winton Castle for further information & prices.

Highland Games at Dundas Castle

Summer in Scotland is instantly associated with the age-old tradition of the Highland Games and the  sprawling lawn of Dundas Castle offer the ideal location for your team members to get stuck into a miniature, replica of the games. Let your colleagues take on the classic cable toss, tug of war or shot put, all for the glory of being crowned the strongest or most agile. This activity truly offers something for all members to enjoy, plus who doesn’t like switching up their usual work-wear for a little tartan? Price upon request, for further information visit the website

Croquet on the lawn of Gilmerton House

Why not take full advantage of the British summer in your next team building exercise, with a truly civilised day of croquet on the lawn of one of Edinburgh’s finest stately homes. Not every team appreciates a day of exerting, physical challenges and the more gentle game of croquet might be  just the ticket to ensure your team returns to work refreshed and ready to achieve success.  The game is, however, notorious for devious means and tricks, so might not be quite so polite as you expect! Prices on request, contact Gilmerton.

BLOG: From Holyrood to Hollywood: UVE in feature films 21st June 2018

Edinburgh’s architecture and geography has made the Scottish capital an attractive shooting destination for filmmakers. Many movies have been filmed in and around our Unique Venues of Edinburgh, and here are just some of them.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Marvel Studio’s blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War was filmed in multiple locations throughout Edinburgh, including Cockburn Street, Waverley Station and St Giles’ Cathedral. A fight scene was shot on the Royal Mile, close to our venues: The Real Mary King’s Close; The Signet Library; and The Hub.

  (Euan Cherry,            

Trainspotting (1996)/T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Trainspotting follows heroin addict Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) and his friends, set in and around Edinburgh. Famous for its Princes Street chase scene, director Danny Boyle features a shot of UVE member, Edinburgh Castle, later in the film.  2017’s T2 features Edinburgh Airport, Parliament Square, the Forth Road Bridge and the Scottish Parliament.


Chariots of Fire (1981)

Chariots of Fire includes a training scene in Inverleith Park, located just behind our Royal Botanic Garden venue. The British classic follows an English Jew and devout Scottish Christian, competing in the 1924 Olympics.


One Day (2011)

Starring Anne Hathaway, One Day is a British-American romantic drama. Parts set and filmed in Edinburgh include Parliament Square, Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat and Victoria Street, near The Hub.


Cloud Atlas (2012)

Cloud Atlas was filmed near our Scotch Whisky Experience venue, on Victoria Street. The movie, which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant, explores how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future. Other locations include the Scott Monument and City Chambers.


Filth (2013)

Comedy-drama Filth features James McAvoy as a scheming policeman. Filth opens at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, and also features scenes on Victoria Street and The Grassmarket.


The Illusionist (2010)

Oscar-nominated Sylvain Chomet’s 2010 animated film The Illusionist depicts 1950s Edinburgh, with views of Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat. The director set up an animation studio in Edinburgh, after attending the International Film Festival.


BLOG: Last minute Father’s Day Gift Guide 12th June 2018

For those of you who have been planning your Father’s Day surprise for months, we applaud you and this guide is probably not for you. But if you’re like most people who have left their Father’s Day festivities to the last minute, then we might be able to help – this is our last minute Father’s Day gift guide.


Whisky Dad

We are in Scotland after all! And while Mums are suckers for flowers and chocolates, you can never go wrong with a fine dram for Dad. If you want to make the experience even more special, you can spend some quality time with Dad at the Queen Street Father’s Day Tasting hosted by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

But if you can’t make it there this weekend, its nae bother! You can buy a voucher from The Scotch Whisky Experience to present to Dad on Father’s Day and go on a whisky tasting tour when it suits you.


Personalised Dad


Because who doesn’t love something with their name on it? You still have a week and Amazon is great for next day delivery. So go on! Get Dad those personalised golf socks he’s always wanted. Or better yet, get him an engraved whisky glass to go with the bottle you surprise him with.

There are so many options for personalised gifts. From engraved hammers to frames and keychains, socks and t-shirts to glasses and storage boxes, the opportunities are endless.


Techie Dad

If your dad is a bit of techie, then you can’t go wrong with the latest gadgets. If he doesn’t already have a voice activated assistant, this is a must – and be sure to enjoy the first few months of hearing Dad yell ‘Alexa’ every five minutes!

If an Echo is a bit out of your price range, then check out John Lewis or Waterstones where they have an amazing range of the latest and greatest gadgets at various price points to get any techie Dad excited.


Outdoor Dad

For those of you with an active Dad who can’t get enough of the outdoors, there’s plenty for you to choose from too. Introduce Dad to an activity band or change his running forever with wireless Bluetooth headphones – trust us, he’ll definitely thank you later.

Or head over to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for Dads Rock Father’s Day and enjoy a fun (free!) afternoon exploring the gardens and getting involved in the creative activities.

If Dad’s into sports, try and find tickets to watch one of his favourite teams play. Remember your Father’s Day gift doesn’t have to take place on the actual day – and he might even enjoy having something to look forward to with you later in the year.


Foodie Dad

It’s well known that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach, so if all else fails this Father’s Day take him out for dinner or lunch. Make sure you leave Mum at home, so Dad can enjoy all the food he wants without Mum casting that disapproving look – every Mum has one!

Edinburgh has some fantastic places to eat, but you can never go wrong with the tried and trusted steak and pint. Try Chophouse for something fancy, or if that’s a bit too fancy we’re sure Dad will appreciate McKirdy’s Steakhouse on Morrison Street – it’s owned by three award winning butchers.


Whatever you choose to spoil Dad with this Father’s Day, the most important gift is spending quality time with him. Nothing shows Dad how much you appreciate him and everything he does for you, more than an afternoon of father/son or father/daughter fun.

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BLOG: Unique Meeting Rooms in Edinburgh 01st June 2018

Whether you are looking for somewhere to host a regular meeting or for an exceptional venue for a gala dinner or large event, there are plenty of options in Edinburgh. The city’s well connected travel network means that wherever the location, delegates will find travel straightforward, it’s just down to you to choose a venue that will impress. Fortunately, UVE members boast a wide range of meeting spaces both large, small, discreet and outstanding for any type of corporate event. Here are just five locations to consider:

The Cullen Suite at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh

Featuring tranquil blue tones, naturally lit rooms and panoramic views over the rooftops of Edinburgh’s New Town, the Royal College of Physicians’ Cullen Suite is perfect for planning a meeting in style.  The suite, complete with stunning hardwood floors and intricate ceiling, provides effortless elegance and flexible space. The three rooms which form the suite can be used for a prestigious board meeting or stunning drink receptions.

Dovecot studios

Home to an eclectic mix of talented artists, Dovecot studios provides a creative backdrop for meetings and conferences. In a previous life, the studios housed grand Victorian swimming baths which have now been lovingly refurbished to create rooms ideal for a meeting, conference, wedding or drinks reception. Take a peek inside this lively venue using the virtual tour on Dovecot’s website.

Scotch Whisky Experience

Set on Castlehill at the top of the Royal Mile, the Scotch Whisky Experience is conveniently close to Waverley Station and only a stone’s throw from the Castle.  It offers two whisky themed and stylish event rooms with integrated multimedia facilities.  The superb events team offers the best in friendly and efficient service and the food, created in-house, is of the highest standard. Why not end your meeting with a whisky tour or tasting to complete the perfect away day?

Musselburgh Racecourse

Get out of town with the conference and events facilities at the historic Musselburgh Racecourse. Only 20 minutes from Edinburgh city centre or 30 minutes from Edinburgh Airport and with free on-site parking, this venue is suitable for guests travelling from a little further afield.  The option to hire different areas of the course, including the grounds, business suites, restaurants, and bars, should cater well to all corporate bookings from 10 -125 delegates.

Dynamic Earth

A short hop from the Scottish Parliament, Dynamic Earth combines flexibility, accessibility and a stunning backdrop.  The meeting rooms are ideal for an event or meeting, whether it is formal or informal. Available as a combined large meeting space or as individual rooms, Salisbury Rooms 1 and 2 at Dynamic Earth offer a contemporary and flexible setting. Even more inspiring, the Hutton and Boardroom suites benefit from natural daylight and views across Holyrood Park and the Salisbury Crags.  As you’d expect, this venue offers modern audio visual facilities across all of its meeting rooms and a high quality of hospitality.

Need a meeting space in Edinburgh and the surrounding area? We’ve got the connections with all the essential Unique Venues – hop on over to the event planning page to explore options and make an enquiry.

BLOG: Winton Castle’s common sense approach to sustainability 01st March 2018

The rich history of Winton Castle and the Estate stretches back to Bronze Age through to the Norman Conquest in 1066 and to the Royal gift of the estate in 1150 by David I to Phillip de Sayton. In this blog post Winton’s owner, Sir Francis Ogilvy, discusses their approach to sustainability, corporate social responsibility and local community

Estates can offer integrated management where farms often cannot. In the past, trees were planted and villages and schools built, said Francis Ogilvy. Today you can’t just do that – you have to work with the planning process – and some trust has been lost between communities and landowners.

A lot of what we’ve done in terms of conservation and sustainability is simply common sense. For example, we had 800 acres of our own woods and needed to replace the old oil-fired boiler, so in 2000 we put in one of the UK’s first wood chip, biomass boilers. Our investments in a wind turbine and solar panels provide electricity for homes and power log cutting equipment for Winton Logs. Excess electricity goes back to the grid so it makes commercial sense.

The woodlands that we’ve planted act as buffers round land where sand and gravel extraction is planned. The trees also contribute to carbon capture. In our farming operations, we seek to minimise fertiliser and chemical usage because it’s expensive, and the run-off from the soil can contaminate water supplies.

Uncultivated wildlife margins have been set up alongside rivers and at field edges because this encourages the wildlife that we all love to see. It protects indicator species like bumble bees, partridges and kingfishers. Making lochs and wetlands also provides wildlife sanctuaries and interesting features.

A network of paths called the Winton Walks was created for local walkers. Developing these 12 miles of trails took more than two years. We have ambitions to continue developing the estate and have engaged extensively with our local communities – neighbouring villages, community groups, politicians and public officials – for their feedback. Sand and gravel extraction is one proposal from this exercise; it has the potential to leave behind an exciting water resource – great for tourism and jobs. .

At Winton we want to see a thriving countryside. Our aim is to broaden appreciation of what it has to offer in an increasingly urbanised culture. In the process – we strive also to provide worthwhile rural employment. Friends farming in South Africa have left their mark with me looking to see how many people they could employ rather than how few.

As Churchill put it: “The positive thinker sees the Invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.” Taking a holistic, sustainable approach is a journey with its ups and downs, but, to quote Churchill again, “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

Winton plans holistically and sustainably for the very long term; the high level of investment dictates this!

This blog is an extract from Francis Ogilvy’s talk at Winton Castle in East Lothian, given to an audience from the Bright Green Business Network (BGBN) and the local Chambers of Commerce on Tuesday 20th February. For more information on Winton Castle, please visit the website.

Mother's day, Edinburgh, venue, activities, scotland
BLOG: Memories with mum on the Royal Mile 15th February 2018

The best present you can get mum this Mother’s Day is your time and attention. Edinburgh is the perfect place to let mum know just how special she is, and the Royal Mile has all the top spots for your brunch, lunch, and afternoon tea needs, as well as a few fun activities to truly make it a day to remember.

Below we’ve compiled our favourite spots for making memories with mum on the Royal Mile this year.

Edinburgh Castle

Capture your memories with the most beautiful backdrop the city has to offer, Edinburgh Castle. Mum will treasure these special snaps for years to come, and you can bet she’ll be parading them proudly when she next sees her friends, boasting about what a loving, attentive child she has.

If she’s a history boffin and has yet to tour the Castle, you can take her on a historical stroll through the most iconic Scottish Tourist Attraction in the city. Castle doors open from 9.30am and tickets start from as little as £13.60 for Concession card holders (60+ years).

Buy your tickets here.

The Hub

For a unique afternoon tea experience mum will never forget, you can stop by The Hub on your way down from the Castle. At just £25 for two, you don’t have to break the bank to make mum feel spoiled.

The afternoon tea experience combines continental flair and the finest British ingredients. Sure to tantalise the taste buds is a selection of delicious and traditional sandwiches, French macarons, homemade strawberry tarts, and dainty mini lemon meringue pies – and of course, you’ll also find your traditional freshly-baked scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream.

Mum can sit back, relax and enjoy her afternoon treats – and choose from a selection of artisan loose teas or have a cheeky glass of prosecco!

For more information, visit Cafe Hub.

Signet Library

If mum enjoys the finer things in life, splash out on a luxurious afternoon tea experience at the Signet Library.

Discover the finest seasonal ingredients in divine sandwiches, delectable savouries, and decadent cakes served on bespoke silver tea stands. Make mum feel like a Royal with an extensive tea selection – including the venue’s own Signet Blend.

For something more substantial, the Signet Library’s Colonnades also offer sumptuous and seasonal lunches, featuring the best of Scottish meat, seafood and produce, as well as carefully created and delicious puddings.

Book your afternoon tea here.

The Real Mary King’s Close

If a tour of the Castle doesn’t tickle your fancy, transport yourselves back to 17th century Edinburgh as a costumed character guide leads you on an hour-long, fully guided tour through the uniquely preserved streets and spaces of Real Mary King’s Close.

This interactive and unique experience paints a picture of how different life would have been for the people of Edinburgh when these streets were open to the skies. It’s also a fantastic photo opp for that memorable snap!

Book your tour here.

The Scotch Whisky Experience

A limited edition tasting of rare Scotch whiskies.

What better way to wind down the afternoon than with a dram? Make dad envious when he hears about your trip to Whisky’s Edinburgh Home.

If it’s mum’s first time indulging in whisky, then a guided tour plus a nosing and tasting of a Scotch whisky on the Silver Tour is the perfect introduction.

If she’s a seasoned whisky lover then the Platinum Tour is just for her.  A whisky lover’s dream, it includes an early evening tour, plus a guided nosing and tasting of five contrasting single malt whiskies followed by an extended viewing of The World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky.

Take a look at The Scotch Whisky Experience’s full tour selection here.

No matter where you take mum this Mother’s Day, be sure to give her your undivided attention and thank her for all her years of hard work and love.