Edinburgh, Scotland (Change location)

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Edinburgh City Info

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. Located on the east coast of the southern region of the county, it covers an area of 102 square miles and is home to 1,339, 380 people as of 2014. Edinburgh is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, where historical grace fuses with contemporary elegance. 

The city has a unique charm and a breathtaking skyline, which can be viewed from several vantage points across the metropolis. It has long been famous for the Fringe and the Edinburgh International Festival, the former being the biggest annual international arts festival. The cultural and historical attractions of the city have made it the second most sought after tourist destination in Great Britain after London, drawing more than a million foreign visitors annually.

Edinburgh Red Light District

Edinburgh does not have a bona fide red light district. However, Salamander Street in Leith is a popular spot for those wishing to engage the services of prostitutes. Over time, Leith has emerged as an unofficial red light district. It is located on the coast of the Firth of Forth, at the mouth of the Water of Leith. 

The oldest profession in the world have always been drawn to docklands, harbors, and ports. It is therefore not surprising that Leith, the port of Edinburgh, became a working hub for the prostitutes in the city since time immemorial. Today, Leith is at the heart of a heated debate as the Scottish Parliament braces to consider passing a bill that will legalize red light zones.

Aside from the Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, the other thing that placed Leith on the map was its so called “tolerance zone.” For several years, Coburg Street served as a den for scores of prostitutes, and police seemingly turned a blind eye on them, taking on a pragmatic view about the situation. Subsequently, the red light area became clearly defined and was easily policed. In addition, it offered some degree of protection to the prostitutes themselves.

History of the RLD 

For most of its long and storied history, Leith Docks served as the port of Edinburgh. It is common knowledge that where there are sailors, there are taverns, dullard shopkeepers, and prostitutes. It became Edinburgh's red light district, giving folks a lot of reasons to visit. 

Majority of eighteenth century prostitutes were from more exotic regions and were mostly seeking a better quality of life. Many are thought to have escaped slavery in the Caribbean and arrived in Leith, only to find themselves selling their bodies on the streets. For some of them, fate was cruel but others found the sex trade a very lucrative venture. 

Time and again, authorities made desperate attempts to clean up the prostitution problem in Edinburgh. Victorian Edinburgh police were aware of about 200 brothels across the city, although it is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, with street prostitution running rampant in some areas. Even Hanover Street and Princes Street were teeming with streetwalkers after dark. The trade simply won’t go away.

How to Reach the RLD

  • By Bus - Leith is connected to Edinburgh by a number of buses operated by Lothian Buses. From the city center, bus services 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 22, 25 and 49 head towards Leith walk. Service 35 links the old town of Edinburgh to Ocean Terminal, and from there Service 22 serves the area from Princes Street. Service 36 connects to Leith through the West End and Stockbridge. 
  • By Train - The nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley. 
  • By Plane – Lothian Buses service 35 directly connects Edinburgh Airport to Leith and Ocean Terminal. Travel time takes more or less an hour, and it is faster to use the Airlink Service 100 to the New Town and then transfer to another bus service heading to Leith Walk. 
  • On Foot – Although Leith can be easily accessed by bus, a great way to visit is to take a hike along the Water of Leith Walkway. It is indicated by brown direction signs with a water wheel logo. This fascinating footpath borders the river from the suburb of Balerno all the way to Leith and ends at the Shore, an upscale area lined with stylish bars, bistros, traditional pubs and first-class restaurants. 

Safety Information

Edinburgh is a very safe and secure city even at night. Most apartments are centrally located and you need not worry about personal safety. However, it is best to be cautious and good to keep street-smarts about you. A few areas of concern include Wester Hailes, Gorgie Road, some of the suburbs like Currie and Ratho, as well as certain parts of Leith, particularly the area between Leith Walk and the dockside.

Edinburgh Adult Entertainment

Prostitutes, pornography, and drugs have long been linked to Edinburgh's grim underbelly, but visitors to the city’s festivals should brace themselves to be shocked. Edinburgh’s grungy and naughty side has moved to center stage. For years, the pomp and grandeur of Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, and Princes Street were haughtily displayed to the whole world. But away from the huge crowds is a twilight world that the city is less keen to brag about.

The sex industry in Edinburgh has exploded from the docklands of Leith into the heart of the capital. Once regarded as tidy and decorous, the city center has become a haven for brothels, strip bars and lap-dancing, and sex shops. There are also several saunas and massage parlors in Edinburgh that cater to both gays and heterosexuals, with Townhouse sauna in Young Street being the most popular for men. Satisfying one’s lust in the Scottish capital no longer has to be a tiring experience as frisky hotspots have become easily accessible.

Street Prostitution

In Scotland, selling sex is legal as long as it involves two consenting adults and the act occurs in private. This makes street prostitution is illegal. Those engaging the services of street prostitutes can now be arrested, and the law is stricter on clients than the prostitutes themselves. It has been estimated that there are about 100 women involved in street prostitution across Edinburgh. Among them, around 40 to 60 may be on the streets on an average night. 

Over the past couple of years, the focal point of street-based prostitution has been Leith, this being the port area, and historically, a place of relative economic destitution and hardship. Salamander Street in particular is the favorite spot among prostitutes and is regarded as an unofficial red light district. At any given time, there are about a dozen or so street walkers in the area and they prowl as far as Leith Docks and Commercial Street to search for clients willing to pay 20 to 50 pounds for their services. 

However, the established pattern has been affected by significant changes to Leith as it has been transformed from commercial to residential and as former industrial areas were converted to relatively affluent neighborhoods. The police responded to these changes by seeking to prod street prostitutes to move to what has been dubbed as a “zone of discretionary prosecution.” Within this area, those engaged in soliciting for prostitution will not be referred to the Procurator Fiscal, a public prosecutor in Scotland similar to a coroner in other legal systems. Other offences not related to prostitution will be charged and penalized as usual.

Edinburgh Clubs and Brothels

Running a brothel is not legal in Scotland. However, Edinburgh’s police and city council have long permitted brothels to operate under the guise of saunas. Some of these saunas remain open while the majority of those in the brothel business are converting their establishments to massage salons. There are also whore houses that operate from private apartments where two to five girls offer their services in separate rooms.

Strip Clubs 

The city center is packed with strip clubs, located beside other bars and nightclubs. The cost is not too high, especially when you consider the popularity of Edinburgh. If you wish to go to a secluded spot in one of the strip clubs, it would be advisable to visit on a weekday, when you can enjoy the shows with more privacy. Here are the places you may want to check out: 

  • The Fantasy Palace
    12 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh
    Phone: 01315383000
    Open: Monday-Thursday 7pm-1am; Friday & Saturday 4pm-1am 
  • The Licquorice Club
    16 Home Street, Edinburgh
    Phone: 01312219030
    Open: Sunday–Friday 4pm–1am; Saturday 2pm–1am 
  • Sapphire Rooms
    81-83 Lothian Road, Edinburgh
    Phone: 0131 229 6391
    Open: Monday–Thursday 7pm-1am; Friday–Sunday 3pm–1am 
  • Burke and Hare
    2 Highriggs, Edinburgh
    Phone: 0131 466 2567
    Open daily from noon until 1 am 
  • Bottoms Up
    93 Lothian Ave, Edinburgh 
  • Hooters Show Bar
    2/4 Lauriston Street, Edinburgh
    Phone: 01312289996
    Open: Monday–Thursday 7pm–1am; Friday and Saturday 3pm–1am 
  • Western Bar
    157 West Port, Edinburgh
    Phone: 0131 229 7983
    Open daily from 12pm–1am

Swinger Clubs 

Swinging culture used to be common among gays, but it is becoming more popular among straight people and couples. In most cases, single men need to cough up more money to enter the clubs than women or couples. This regulation has been enforced so there will be a fair ratio between males and females. 

  • After Eight Club
    Address: 10 Spittal St, Edinburgh
    Website: www.after8club.moonfruit.com
    E-mail: after8club@hotmail.co.uk 

This is a discrete club with rooms to come and meet, chat, dance and play with other people who want to have some fun. Everyone is welcome, regardless of gender, sexuality or relationship status.  The venue is open on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

Edinburgh Nightlife

Edinburgh hosts year-round cultural festivals, but it is easy to find local bands performing live in bars or a concert at an Old Town church. Drop by and join the socialites at posh pubs on student-packed George Street, or if you wish to sample Scotland’s best malt whiskies or real ales, there is a lot of cheerful chit-chat at a wood-paneled tavern around Grassmarket, a historic market place and an events space in the capital’s Old Town.

Here is a list of the bars and clubs you may want to visit:

  • Bennets Bar - The interior of this vintage boozer has remained pretty much the same since the start of the 20th century; however, it is no old man’s pub. It is a favorite hangout among actors, thanks to its upbeat ambiance, wide selection of whisky, and a no-nonsense Scottish fare.

  • The Doric – This 17th-century gastro pub is a handy stop-off point by the station. It boasts of a splendid selection of single malts, including the pricey but velvety Isle of Jura and Balvenie whiskies.
  • Theatre Royal Bar – It has a dramatic facade and is located next to the famous Playhouse theatre. It serves a range of malt whiskies and Scottish ales.
  • Espionage – A club that offers five stories of fun-filled clubbing action. It is a maze of bars, dance floors and hidden nooks decked out in an assortment of funky designs. Every night has a theme, with a different type of music being played on each floor.
  • Opal Lounge – A hipster haunt on George Street whose clientele included no less than Prince William during his stint at St Andrews. This is the place to go if you wish to guzzle some Moët and splash out on a VIP table.
  • The Hive - It is located just off the Royal Mile and prides itself on serving guests seven nights a week. A typical evening covers virtually all musical genre – from hip-hop to rock, electro, retro and indie music.
  • Cabaret Voltaire – situated in the ancient subterranean caverns of Cowgate district, it is popular live music venue that appeals to a student crowd, playing a variety of dance music all week long

Edinburgh LGBT

Edinburgh today has a varied gay scene, which involves not only bars, clubs, and taverns, but everything from cafés, shops, and saunas to real ale drinkers and gay sports groups among a host of other activities. However, it was not always that way. There was a time when being gay was illegal, so gay men had to be very careful. Lesbianism wasn’t illegal by the way. 

Today, Edinburgh has an active and very vibrant gay scene, with "the Pink Triangle" near Prince Street regarded as the city’s main gay district. All the other bars and clubs are just around the area, and each one offers something different. Other popular venues for the gay community are the ‘Blue Moon Café’ and the ‘Habana café’ where the food is great and the drinks flow easily.

General Attitude towards Gays

Edinburgh, just like the rest of Scotland, has adopted an open attitude towards gays. Homosexuality is no longer taboo nor considered as a criminally-depraved behavior. In fact, Scotland has emerged as the country with the best gay rights in Europe. Any form or discrimination or prejudice is gone unlike the days when gays were forced underground to dark corners or illicit parties. Gay culture has exploded to mainstream society and gays are now having a fantastic time in the city.

Sex Clubs for Gays Gay Saunas

  • Steamworks Sauna – The facilities in this 465-square-meter venue include a 12-man spa pool, large steam rooms, power shower, maze with themed areas, a dry sauna, professional massage service, free internet access, a vertical tanning booth, XXX video lounge, and a café serving snacks and drinks. It is open 7 days a week and no membership is required.

    Address: 5 Broughton Market, Edinburgh
    Opening times: 11:00 am – 11 pm
  • Number 18 Sauna – This is a long-running sauna that caters to both gays and bisexual men. It has been around for over 20 years. Facilities include private cubicles, lockers, a large steam room, showers, XXX TV and a café area that serves snacks and drinks. The best time to visit is during weekends between 1 pm and 6 pm.

    Address: 18 Albert Place, Edinburgh
    Weekday opening times: 12:00 noon – 10 pm
    Weekend opening times: 12:00 noon – 11 pm 

Dance Clubs for Gays 

  • CC Blooms – The oldest and most popular gay club in Edinburgh. It was renovated in 2012, giving the venue a classy bar/restaurant appeal by day and a stylish nightclub by night.

    Address: 23-24 Greenside Place, Edinburgh
    Weekday opening times: 11:00 am - 3:00 am
    Weekend opening times: Sat 11:00 am - 3:00 am; Sun 12:30 pm - 3:00 am 
  • Chalky’s – The favorite gay-friendly venue in Scotland, this late-night bar and dance club draws a mixed crowd with drag shows and an amiable vibe.

    Address: 4 Picardy Place, Edinburgh
    Daily opening times: 11 am - 3:00 am 

Transexual Prostitution

Thousands of transvestites across the globe make their living by acting as webcam models. The best way to meet trannies in the city is through the internet. There are transsexual live sex shows in Edinburgh, and you can watch so long as you have an internet connection. The price for sex with a transgender escort is about $80 to $200 depending on the t-girl’s popularity and the length of time you wish to spend with her.

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