The views from the terrace at Harvey Nichols' Forth Floor are hard to beat, whichever way your chair is facing – towards the Castle and the Old Town skyline or across the Firth of Forth to Fife. At its best on a clear summer day (with a seafood platter and glass of Prosecco in front of you), the views over St Andrew Square at Christmas are also very merry-making – you'll be just about close enough to read the fear in the eyes of those riding the Star Flyer, the downside being you'll also be in the line of fire of any wayward pieces of seat.
Another seasonal favourite is The Dome , the interior of which has established itself as a bona fide tourist attraction come Christmas. Push through the selfie-takers under the fake snow being pumped out over the steps and Edinburgh's most extravagant decorations await. However, the lavish interior of this former bank, based on Playfair's design for the Surgeons Hall, is beautiful at any time of the year, with its circular central bar, elaborately tiled floors and iconic glass dome centrepiece.
The Witchery is world-famous for its decadent dining room; a maximalist fantasy of carved wood panelling, swathes of silk and velvet, tapestries, painted ceilings and giant brass candlesticks, housed in a building that dates to 1595. And you never know, previous visitors Ewan McGregor, Kate Moss or Audrey Tautou might even be there, augmenting the surroundings.
Fancy lunch in the shadow of a 7-metre high Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture? Vulcan, an imposing half-man, half-robot incarnation of the Roman god of fire, is the centrepiece at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's Café Modern Two . The food is fresh and inventive, all cooked from scratch and using ingredients plucked from the gallery's own allotment, and the afternoon tea is a particularly delicious bet, and only £30 for two.
For unrivalled and uninterrupted waterfront views head to the Old Chain Pier , sitting on the banks of the Firth of Forth at Newhaven, and almost close enough to dip your toes in. Starting life at the start of the 20th century as a bar attached to the booking office for steamer services, the restaurant – which very sensibly specialises in seafood – has more recently been the subject of some excellent reviews, plus it's dog and child-friendly, hosts art exhibitions and guest ales and has a wheat/gluten-free menu.
Tucked behind the East End of Princes Street are two almost-hidden gems: Café Royal and The Voodoo Rooms . The former is unrivalled for its Victorian elegance, with gold leaf-anointed ceilings, a gleaming white marble floor, sparkling chandeliers, engraved mirrors, stained glass windows and carved walnut screens – what else to eat here but oysters? The latter takes opulence to almost cartoonish levels, transporting diners to Anne Rice's New Orleans. Lit red outside, inside is all bordello black and gold, American Gothic velvet and gilt, walnut and palms, leather booths and black magic vibes.
Princes Street itself is woefully short of good eateries for one of the world's most beautifully situated shopping streets but if you're looking for a quick bite with a world-class view, you could do worse than a pitstop at Starbucks or Yo! Sushi . Multinational they may be, but what's on offer is perfectly palatable when served with a panorama that takes in the Castle, the Gardens and The Mound.