Who doesn’t love a good old spooky tale? As Scotland’s capital and one of its oldest cities, ‘Auld Reekie’ has a chequered and colourful past. And where better to discover such tales of debauchery and criminality than in some of its many pubs? Estimated to have around 750 hostelries dotted throughout the city, it would be nigh on impossible to experience them all, so here’s five of the most haunted to get you started.
The White Hart Inn
As one of Edinburgh’s oldest surviving pubs, dating back to 1516, the White Hart Inn is recognised as also being its most haunted. Many of its patrons and staff have claimed to have seen spectres, heard ghostly footsteps, and been touched on the shoulder and had their hair pulled when no-one was there. At the crux of the scary stories is the tale of the infamous Edinburgh duo, Burke and Hare, who killed and sold the bodies of their victims to local universities. Apparently, the two Williams both drank in this pub, enticing fellow drinkers out into the cold night to meet their end.
The Banshee Labyrinth
Now built on the infamous underground vaults of Edinburgh, where many of the city’s ne’er do wells used to congregate and often met a gruesome end, this nightclub used to be known as the Nicol Edwards Pub. The banshee part of its name comes from a spirit with an ear-piercing scream that is said to haunt the premises and, of course, labyrinth comes from the tangle of tunnels found underneath.
The Scotsman Hotel
If you like your fright with a little more style, then a visit to the five-star Scotsman Hotel should be top of your list. As the old offices of the Edinburgh Evening News, this Edwardian building will have seen its fair share of murderous headlines and is reputedly still the home of a phantom printer and forger.
Whistle Binkie’s Bar
Now a live music venue, Whistle Binkie’s is said to be haunted by The Watcher, a long-haired gentleman favouring 17th-century attire. And as if one ghost wasn’t enough, there’s also The Imp to contend with, whom, since the 1990s has occupied the bar and storeroom, slamming doors and stopping clocks.
The Last Drop Tavern
On the site where the last hanging in the Grassmarket took place, this 17th century building used to be part of the tenements, flats that were home to the poorest of Edinburgh’s inhabitants. Rebuilt using the building’s original stone, the pub is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who lived in the tenements. Both staff and customers are said to have sighted her in the bar and cellar.