Today was decidedly and unapologetically Harry Potter themed. Like most people my age I grew up alongside Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. I remember staying up way too late in order to snag a midnight copy of the next installment of the series, I remember being devastated when I didn’t receive my Hogwarts letter (to he honest I’m still holding out for one), and I remember dressing up in my robes and reading my copy of the seventh book on the curb while I waited for my dad to bring the car around. I think it’s needless to say, but I will do so anyway, JK Rowling’s magical world shaped my childhood for the better. I’m highly emotional about Harry Potter and I’m not sorry. When Pottermore was first released upon the grateful masses (of which I am a very vocal one) I sprinted (which here means I typed aggressively into my Google search bar) and got myself sorted at once…. I was a….. Slytherin? At first I was a little shocked- how could I be a Slytherin?! This had to be a mistake- so I created another account with a different email and took the sorting hat quiz again and lo and behold I was sorted into Slytherin for a second time. I came pretty quickly around to the fact that I was a Slytherin and whenever people asked I shrugged and said my house to which they either replied with a “*GASP* noooo! I would never think you would be sorted into that house, so you’re like evil now?” Nope I’m still me… or they would respond with a nonchalant “yeah, I pretty much figured you’d be a Slytherin, hiss hiss am I right?!” Um… what? If I’m being honest with myself I am a Slytherin (as much as the way that Harry was almost sorted into Slytherin but ended up in Gryffindor.) I’m not a bad person but I am cunning and I will pretty much use any means to achieve something that I’m invested in (but I’m also not, like, a homicidal maniac obsessed with eugenics… and I have a nose so there’s that as well). I fully embraced my Slytherin sorting and have loved every minute of it so far (the whole dark and green aesthetic fits right in with my Sagittarius/Scorpio cusp sign).
Three years ago when I first lived in Edinburgh I think I came to the Elephant House maybe a grand total of two or three times. It wasn’t overly far away from my flat, however I was I think nervous for my first time eating in the place where Rowling created the series that impacted me so profoundly. When I eventually went in after a long stroll in Greyfriar’s (literally this might be my favorite place) I ventured in. The Elephant Room is truly a magical place, it’s smothered in elephants (dad you would love it here) and the air is warm and sweetly scented. Every time I go here I get my usual over at Kilimanjaro Coffee (more on them in a different post) consisting of a fruit scone with clotted crème and a pot of breakfast tea. They also do a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu (they’re open until 10pm on most nights, sometimes later) and I can say from firsthand experience that their food is delicious and served as generous portions. As I see it there are only three mini teensy downsides to taking tea at the Elephant House. The first is that they are constantly busy with people flooding in and out all of the time (which is completely understandable because this is the birthplace of Harry Potter) so it’s not exactly a quiet place to get writing done- I’ve been sitting at their stone counter in the front for a solid half hour and I think I’ve been in the background of at least twenty photos. The days where a writer could sit with a cup of tea and work away in the quiet murmur of this shop are long gone (the irony of this is not lost on you I assume). The second downside to eating here is that they are more on the expensive side of things, however honestly they aren’t that expensive but I’m not used to paying over three pounds for a pot of tea mumblemumblegrumblemumble. The third and most grievous tally against the Elephant House is THEY DON’T HAVE CLOTTED CREAM FOR THEIR SCONES. Appalled. I am appalled. But to be fair those aren’t really horrible things (except for the clotted cream absence because I will never be over that). The people who work here are wonderful and every time I have gone they were friendly and warm.
The most whimsical aspects of the Elephant House are: the shelves dripping with assorted elephant sculptures and mini statues, the mismatched décor lending an atmosphere of the kitchen or parlor of an old friend, the views from some of the tables are stellar- some of which include the castle, which Rowling used as inspiration for Hogwarts, and the bathrooms. The bathrooms, you might be thinking? Yes. The bathrooms. They are covered in Harry Potter related graffiti and one could spend hours reading the walls and the messages scrawled across them, however since it’s a bathroom the most time you’ll have is probably around the five minute marker at best; and in that case everyone will think that you’ve just done a massive poo and do you want people thinking that? I mean it doesn’t really matter, it’s not as if they are going to remain as a permanent fixture in your life but you know, things to think about. It’s a must do if you’re in Edinburgh for any amount of time because it’s so central to literally everything (Greyfriar’s is a leisurely two minute stroll, the Royal Mile is only ten minutes away, the Castle only fifteen, and the Grassmarket is literally a stones throw away) so there’s really no excuse to not pop in for a cup of something warm and a sweet bite to eat.