Elephant House, Edinburgh

4 out of 5 stars 9 Reviews

21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1EN +00 44 (0)131 220 5355
  • Beef Casserole
    Beef Casserole
    by SallyM
  • Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
    Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
    by SallyM
  • The Elephant House. With Elephants
    The Elephant House. With Elephants
    by SallyM

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  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    The Elephant House: The Birthplace of Harry Potter

    by Nemorino Updated May 19, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Elephant House bills itself as "The Birthplace of Harry Potter", because this is where the author J.K. Rowling often "mulled over a coffee writing her first Harry Potter novel."

    They have a nice view of Edinburgh Castle out the back window, and up front there are some computers with internet connection which used to cost £ 1.00 for thirty minutes.

    Second photo: Here's what the Elephant House looks like from the outside.

    They also have a smaller version called Elephants & bagels a few blocks away at 32 Marshall Street.

    The Elephant House The Elephant House from the outside

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  • JessH's Profile Photo

    The Elephant House: For those peckish and thirsty Harry Potter fans...

    by JessH Updated Apr 7, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Opened in 1995, The Elephant House is a small but lively tea and coffee house near the National Museum of Scotland and Greyfriars Bobby's Bar. Made famous as the place where J.K. Rowling used to come during her penniless days to keep warm (when she couldn't afford to heat her apartment), she sat here on many cold days with a cup of tea and wrote for many hours the early drafts of what later would become some of the biggest-selling books of all time.

    I can see what she probably liked about this place back in the day: a great view of the castle, quirky elephant-themed interiors, a decent & affordable cuppa, and a variety of sandwiches. But apart from that I didn't think the food, drinks or service were anything spectacular or particularly impressive that would warrant a 2nd visit. I'm quite certain that before this place found Harry Potter fame, it was most likely a semi-busy quaint little cafe with a regular but not overwhelmingly large clientele.

    Nowadays, this is a very different story and some days you may not even be able to find a seat as its mobbed with tourists! Even though this is a tourist hot-spot, prices are still quite reasonable, so I have to give them credit for that at least.

    Favorite Dish: I had a large cappuccino (£2.25) here which was good, but I've had better elsewhere. John had their soup of the day (tomato) which did the job, but he did say that my home-made version was much, much better :-)

    While we were there, there was a constant stream of excited tourists snapping away with their cameras in-and outside, and hyped-up children noisily making their presence felt.
    Apparently Ian Rankin, author of the bestselling Rebus novels, and Alexander McCall-Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency have also frequented The Elephant House throughout the years... but today this place is probably far too noisy for any accomplished or aspiring authors to spend time here.
    If you're a big Harry Potter fan and want a decent cup of coffee or a snack, the Elephant House should be on your list of things to see whilst in Edinburgh.
    If not, then don't worry: you're not missing much if you decide to not come and see what the fuss is all about.

    Front of the Elephant House, Edinburgh (Aug. 2008) Menu outside the Elephant House, Edinburgh
    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Family Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo

    Harry Potter was created here ?

    by kenHuocj Written Apr 27, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ambience is unique, laid back and casual.
    Internet access in front.
    The Back room has a view onto the gardens and Castle.
    Even a Livecam of NOW

    Favorite Dish: Pot of tea, people watching and chatting with friends
    of strangers.

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  • SallyM's Profile Photo

    The Elephant House: Not just for Harry Potter fans

    by SallyM Updated Mar 28, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Let's deal with the elephant in the room first. OK, there are lots of elephants in the room, pachyderms being the dominant feature of the decor. But the one I meant was a certain boy wizard. J K Rowling is supposed to have written much of her early Harry Potter novels here, and the place is now something of a place of pilgrimage for Potter fans. I have to confess to never having read any Harry Potter, nor very much Alexander McCall-Smith nor Ian Rankin, to name two other authors who are said to have frequented this establishment, so I will comment only on the food and ambience.

    Open seven days a week, the Elephant House serves tea, coffee and cake, and also more substantial meals. It is billed as open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is actually open until 8.00 p.m. in the evenings, with table service only after 5.00 p.m. I went for an early evening meal. The bill for two of us for a main course and a cake, with drinks, was just over £23, which isn't bad. It was very busy when we arrived, and the waitress has to keep pushing past us to get to a table in the corner, but it got a bit quieter around 7.00 p.m. It's certainly worth a visit if you fancy a decent cup of tea and some cake, or a quick early evening bite to eat, even if you are not a fan of JK Rowling or elephants.

    Favorite Dish: My husband chose the haggis, neeps and tatties (haggis, swede and mashed potato), whilst I had a beef casserole, also with mash. Neither looked particularly beautiful, but they were reasonably priced and tasty - the haggis was definitely the better of the two.

    Tea is good here - proper tea with a strainer, not nasty teabags.

    The Elephant House. With Elephants Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Beef Casserole
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Festivals
    • Family Travel

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  • leigh767's Profile Photo

    The Elephant House: Breathe the literary aroma

    by leigh767 Written Jul 22, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Yet another point in Edinburgh that acheived international fame through the literary world, the Elephant House is a place that is wonderfully unique in its own right. Jam packed with all things elephantine, from statues to abstract paintings, this gem of a cafe also has good music and a view of the castle by a few window seats. The furnishings are comfy and spacious, making it a fantastic place to sit all day and work on assignments/read/write a book/chat.

    Simply love the delicious patries served here; peace and tranquility is free of charge.

    Favorite Dish: If you're going for simplicity, try the big croissant.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad

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  • The Elephant House Cafe: You will need time, lots of time!

    by JacquiL Written Jul 12, 2011

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A rather splendid and relaxing setting in which to pass some time. However, if the slack and 'we can't be bothered with you' service is on display as it was when my husband and I popped in for breakfast, then you may need to have several hours to spare and I was left wondering if J K Rowling had managed to complete penning the entire Harry Potter series whilst waiting for her order to arrive. Great building, lovely views out of the window but shocking staff who look as though they have been recruited from the local somnambulistic society!

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  • kiely's Profile Photo

    *The Elephant House: It's not...

    by kiely Updated Nov 21, 2004

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    *The Elephant House:
    It's not really a restaurant , but you can definitely get something nice to eat there . I love this place . When I lived in Edinburgh I used to go there at least four times a week . Most of the time , I went there to study , to meet up some friends or just for a cup of tea :) . The atmosphere is more than just perfect , excellent music , food , and waiters / waitress . One of the owner of this shop 'David' is a fairly nice person . If you get the chance to go to this place , remember to say hi for me .

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  • StirCrazy's Profile Photo

    The Elephant House

    by StirCrazy Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Elephant House

    Don't remember what I ate or drank when I was here (it was some time ago) but I do remember loving this place! It was bustling with lunchtime trade when I was there, but comfortable for all that... a favourite with residents, students and tourists alike.

    I believe that there are over 600 elephants on display - which is even more than at Chester Zoo!

    Favorite Dish: Tea and coffee are the Elephant House's specialities, but as I recall the food was very good!

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  • snoel's Profile Photo

    The Elephant House: You can avoid the fried everything (and anything)

    by snoel Written Sep 16, 2002

    full of elephants, grat atmosphere, just off the Royal Mile on George IV, great food and coffee...Where J.K. Rawling scibled out Harry Potter on a napkin- but don't worry- they DEFINATLY don't try to milk that

    Favorite Dish: Lasagna- affordable, good portion and just like Mom made

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