The Maltings is a fine traditional pub situated reasonably near the heart of the Scottish regional capital, Edinburgh, on St Leonard's Street, St Leonard's. Despite recent changes in exterior colour, the interior of the pub remains unchanged in spite of recent trends for the worse in pub decoration. Ancient cigarette and tobacco placards mingle with posters for last year's festival events and forthcoming entertainments around the walls, giving the pub a friendly, cluttered feel. Most of the seating is comfortable and well-positioned, the exception being the bench near the door where your feet are at risk of tripping people up on a busy evening1. The tables are of good, solid wood, weathered by many years' worth of pints and elbows. You can get various games from behind the bar and some tables have home-painted board game layouts on them including:
- Trivial Pursuits
- Connect Four
- Playing Cards
- Pen and paper for Noughts and Crosses
From Waverley Station, take the stairs to Princes Street. Turn right and then right again. You will find yourself on a bridge called Northbridge.
Head south along Northbridge until you see a Bella Pasta restaurant to your right and a large church opposite it. Turn left again and head down along the Royal Mile2. The third turning to the right is St Mary's Street, identifiable by the World's End pub3 on the corner. Turn into St Mary's Street and head south down the hill.
You will come to a scary junction, which you should cross with care. Keep walking approximately south along The Pleasance until you reach St Leonard's Street, complete with St Leonard's Police Station (which should be signposted if you're getting lost).
The Maltings is on the corner of St Leonard's Street and Montague Street on your right.
As far as drinks are concerned, the most prominent treat behind the bar is the Theakston's Best Bitter on tap, regrettably rare in Edinburgh. Miller and Carlsberg are the main draught lagers with the usual Guinness, McEwan's 70/-, Beamish Red and some sort of cider coming from the remaining taps. Bottles of all varieties come from the fridge beneath the bar, vodkas of varying flavours from above it, After Shock from the special fridge on the end and the usual array of spirits, disgusting liqueurs and nice but slightly expensive single malts from behind. You'll also get the occasional beer promotion at £1 a pint.
When You've Got Your Drinks
What makes the Maltings distinctive is the good atmosphere, comfort, traditional decor, variety of games available, humour value of the weekly quiz4 and the nostalgic tapes sometimes played: 'China in Your Hand' by T'Pau5 is a favourite.
The staff are friendly and will serve people in the same order at which they arrived at the bar. They don't make you spill your drink by ringing a nasty loud bell at you and will ask you nicely when they want you to go away. They will sometimes put MTV, sports or Coronation Street6on one of the televisions but mitigate the rudeness this might encourage amongst a group by mounting the televisions at a neck-cricking angle on the walls and turning off the sound.
The clientele is not, as one might expect (and as used to be) composed predominantly of off-shift police officers from the station across the road nor of students. A wide mix of ages, heights, occupations and musical preferences are accommodated therein.
Recently-installed pastel-coloured bar-stool coverings suggest that an interior make-over is imminent but it has yet to appear. In the meantime the Maltings remains a traditional, friendly, relaxing pub.
And Upon Leaving
If you decide to leave before closing time, you're very close to a great deal of equally nice pubs within spitting distance of either of the Maltings' two doors. If you need feeding first and find the crisps offered within the pub a little insubstantial, Freddie's Take-Away next door sells cheap but lovely chips, pizzas, batter-fried meat objects and burgers. If you're feeling rich there's a branch of Howie's Restaurant across the road, though you'll probably need to have booked and put on a tie to get in. To the north along St Leonard's Street and the Pleasance you will find the Auld Hoose, the Pleasance Union itself and (on Holyrood Road) the Holyrood Tavern.