Visiting The Elephant House
On a recent trip to Scotland (and my very first time in Edinburgh) I was lucky enough to visit The Elephant House.
The Elephant House opened in 1995 and quickly established itself as one of the best tea and coffee houses in Edinburgh. It was made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling, who would frequently visit the café and sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle. The café also says that other famous writers once wrote here, including Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith.
Possibly the most famous of the Harry Potter related attractions in Edinburgh, this coffee shop is now a popular tourist attraction and is almost always busy. A sign on the outside proclaims it to be the “Birthplace of Harry Potter” and it attracts lots and lots of eager visitors.
We arrived at around 5pm and luckily it wasn’t too busy to get a seat. We sat down at a lovely table in the front window before ordering coffees. The atmosphere inside was so cosy and welcoming, we loved looking around, enjoying the views and spotting some of the 600 elephants of all shapes and sizes dotted around the place! It really is such a quirky and comfy café to spend time in. We were surprised to find that the prices were not bad given its popularity and the food and coffee was good. As long as you order something, you can also spend as much time as you like here and you can even sit and write if you wish. We stayed for about an hour and didn’t feel hurried on by anyone. The lady who brought over our drinks told us that it was in the back room area of the café where Rowling was most likely to sit and work. It used to be the smoking section and has really fantastic views of Edinburgh castle in the distance. Other than the sign on the front door declaring ‘birthplace of Harry Potter,’ I really loved that the place doesn’t seem to have changed much at all since the time JK would’ve been inside writing.
I can definitely see why this unusual little place has appealed to many writers as a fun, creative place to write. I’m sure many other writers will hopefully find inspiration from those now famous best-selling authors like Rowling, who once sat quietly writing at the table in the corner.
The bathroom has become a place for all kinds of Harry Potter graffiti and unsurprisingly menus are displayed in several languages. There are a number of souvenir items for sale inside, and I picked up a lovely tote bag to take away with me as a small reminder of our trip. I’ll always remember our experience at The Elephant House fondly, and I recommend visiting if you find yourself in Edinburgh any time soon!
The Elephant House,
21 George IV Bridge
21 George IV Bridge