Quiet places to study in Edinburgh?
September 27, 2009 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Quiet pubs and cafes for a student to study in Edinburgh

I'm currently on a year long exchange in Edinburgh, and I'm looking to find quiet places to study--they don't have to be dead silent just no loud music playing and loud conversations at the table next to me. I know noisy cafes are great for hanging out with friends, but I'd like a place where I can focus on what I'm reading. If you know of any pubs, cafes, parks, libraries, etc., that would be great. Bonus points for old places with lots of atmosphere (fireplaces, comfy chairs, etc).
posted by tyris33 to Travel & Transportation around Edinburg, TX (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Central Library is a fine place to study. I believe you can get free wifi there too. Lots of cafes nearby, but they'll likely be noisy.

There are many branch libraries too. If you're on exchange I'm guessing you'll be somewhere in the student heartlands of Sciennes, Marchmont, or nearby.

Parks might seem tempting now, but it's going to get wet and cold and windy. Still, there's the odd day when the Meadows will make for a nice change. (I hope you like the smell of roasting hops though).

I haven't lived in Embra for 15 years, and in my experience, cafes and pubs tended towards not being too quiet.

What district will you be in? Perhaps I can narrow it down a bit for you?
posted by aesop at 10:02 AM on September 27, 2009

Response by poster: I'm actually living near Holyrood park right now in the Pollock dorms, but I'm trying to transfer to a flat so that will soon be changing. How about places nearby the main University of Edinburgh campus in George Square? I quite enjoy walking though so any place in the city would be great.
posted by tyris33 at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2009

The Metropole cafe on Newington Rd is usually pretty quiet on weekdays.
The central library is very good but like anywhere central, can get busy.
posted by Lanark at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2009

George Square- A local institution is the Pear Tree.

The guide referenced above is a pretty fair gathering of pubs in Edinburgh. The comments there should be taken with a bit of a pinch of salt, in my estimation. Seems to be mostly natives (like myself) who've had enough of gentrification and undergraduate silliness. They have a point, but be aware that they do seem to want the city all to themselves a bit.

The Pear Tree is full of students and gets very boisterous at night, but there is a large beer garden which you may be able to take refuge in. Worth having a look at other times of day when it might not be quite so busy.
Take yourself for a street view trundle through the Stockbridge area: Comely Bank Row, Raeburn Place, NW Circus Place. Lots of cafes.
With exceptions, I'd say that the general pub/bar/cafe culture in Scotland wasn't particularly quiet, and rents are high enough that any place that has enough peace and quiet for you to study in, ain't gonna stay in business for long, at least in the centre of town.
posted by aesop at 10:40 AM on September 27, 2009

The Forest Cafe on Bristo Place (just across from George Square) is exactly what you're after. It's often quite peaceful during the day, especially in the front (red) room. They have free wifi, sell fantastic snacks and beverages, and have an art gallery (and live music most evenings too).

Disclaimer: I am totally biased as I volunteer in the gallery there. YMMV, but not by much I would think.
posted by Chairboy at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2009

The Forest Café is charming (thumbs up to Chairboy!).

I also second the Central Library (about five minutes from George Square) but in particular the Art History room. It seems a little quieter than the main reference room, perhaps because it's hidden up a couple of flights of stairs. It has big windows with excellent views of the muddle of rooftops and grey sky you're going to get to know so well.

Susie's Diner is busy at lunchtime, but handily near the Edinburgh Uni buildings as well. The Elephant House might seem to be milking the Harry Potter connection with rather too much enthusiasm, but it has big tables and seems quite conducive to pondering. Again, can be busy in the lunchtime rush.

Edinburgh is delightful. I really hope you enjoy your time there!
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about a bookstore cafe, in a pinch? Not much for old-world atmosphere, but I seem to recall parking myself and my reading material in the cafe inside Waterstone's for a long while.
posted by backtotherain at 2:52 PM on September 27, 2009

I did a semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh - it was a fantastic experience! For quiet studying on campus, I sometimes used the big room in the chaplaincy center in Potterrow (through the wall of glass doors off the main area) - can be a bit more of a social hangout spot during lunchtimes but at other points during the day it's big tables, by-donation coffee and tea, & an open and sunny feeling. You definitely don't need to be a member of any faith organizations - I was never preached to, and the only times I had related conversations there was at specifically organized events.

If you like smaller and cozier spaces, look up the department libraries for any area you're studying (or one's you're not) - I did a lot of studying in the little reading room/library in the psychology building. I think some of these may be technically for degree students, but are open-access in the 9-5 range.
posted by heyforfour at 9:11 PM on September 27, 2009

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