I could recommend the Cafe Royal for the rotating range of beer, or the spectacular seafood on offer, or the central but hidden location. But really, the reason I think the pub stands out is the interior.
The Cafe Royal is one of the most beautiful bars I’ve ever seen! Opened in 1863, it’s now a listed building as it’s such an amazing example of a Victorian pub. The ceiling is painted in gold leaf and around the bar there are six tiled murals from Royal Doulton, all depicting a different inventor such as James Watt (inventor of the steam engine) and Benjamin Franklin.
The bar is actually split into two by a carved walnut screen. The main area is the Circle Bar which offers pub food and a chance to grab a pint. On the other side is the Oyster Bar which offers a fine dining option.
The food on offer is also pretty spectacular. Both halves of the bar offer fresh seafood and other traditional Scottish food like Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Scallops and black pudding (my favourite!) and a few different salmon dishes. The beer and whisky selection is good as well.
The bar is a wee bit hidden, tucked behind the Apple store, beside the Archivists’ Garden at the east end of Princes Street and can be a bit busy with the post-work crowd but absolutely worth stopping past even just to take a peek inside.